Changing IT Role in News Publishing Company

Best Practices, EMC World No Comments »

During one of the “cattle call” lunches at EMC World last week, I sat with an operations manager from a leading U.S. news publisher, who had an interesting observation on how the role of IT has changed at his company.

He reminded me that today, publishing no longer means just “paper.”  For new-age publishers, their bread and butter consists of assimilating, publishing, indexing, and archiving online content.  Their business, in effect, rides on the Internet, and their readers expect no latency in their online apps.  The benchmark is really the physical experience of reading a book, magazine, or newspaper.  There are a lot of news publishers on the Web, so the penalty for downtime or slowdowns is immediate … people go elsewhere.

Beyond just current news, this publisher has to maintain a massive archive of articles.  Because of the huge spikes in readership on an hourly or daily basis, this news leader makes heavy use of virtualization to help balance the load.

Because of this, virtualization tracking and guaranteeing performance are major challenges.  The old ways that sort of work in the purely physical world really aren’t working for them, so they are looking for better measuring and monitoring tools.  He said that his current tools will alert his team to problems, but in a virtualized world, those tools aren’t actually leading them to the cause of the problem.  At the same time, the IT department is on the hook for performance-based SLAs.  So they’re wasting money buying more and more gear to hedge their bets, realizing that it can’t go on forever.  Not with the margins in online publishing.

In between bites of short ribs, he told me about a company he’s talking to which measures the kinds of metrics that’ll help him meet his SLAs.  At first, I was worried that maybe VI had a new competitor, but then he noticed my badge and said, “Hey, it’s you guys.”  Small world.  It’ll be fun to see how his investigation progresses.

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