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How DevOps Tools Can Help Publishers Thrive

Agility has proven to be a key weapon in the publisher arsenal during the pandemic. Agile firms -- particularly news publishers -- that switched directions or added digital services quickly reaped the rewards of new readers and viewers, even if the audience boost didn't result in a similar increase in revenues for ad-based services in the short term.

To address the unique information demands of the global health crisis, newsrooms are enabling remote copy creation, providing broader access to information about COVID-19, and adopting new formats for displaying data. Examples include the Financial Times quickly reconfiguring its paywall to offer free COVID-19 coverage or The Atlantic introducing its COVID Tracking Project data repository.

Why is DevOps so important?

DevOps practices emerged from a perceived need for development and operations teams to collaborate and communicate more. Combined with cloud-based services and applications, targeted investments in DevOps tools and processes help publishers innovate, increase agility, monitor in real time, and tackle industry disruption. 

"While the term DevOps is often associated with leading-edge projects, mastering DevOps isn't only about innovating on the cool technologies more quickly; it's about building the capability to continuously deliver a set of experiences that customers value, which drive business results." Forrester Research

Finance and commerce sectors led the early adoption of DevOps, but the media industry is catching up fast. According to Forrester, the proportion of full-time media developers using DevOps with Agile increased by 56% in 2019, while the proportion of infrastructure decision-makers implementing and upgrading DevOps increased by a third -- faster than any other vertical.1

From DevOps to microservices to edge compute

The subsequent rise in popularity of microservices has been largely due to those DevOps teams taking monolithic app design and infrastructure and breaking it down into smaller, self-contained units that can be cobbled together in a building-block style. The DevOps mantra of continuous integration and continuous delivery that breaks down services into discrete units -- which can be modified, tested, and deployed independently -- makes a lot of sense.

Bringing some of the microservices to the edge -- closer to the things that act on them -- further increases agility by reducing latency from origin calls, managing data complexity, and enabling product innovation.

For publishers, DevOps represents several opportunities:

  • Increasing agility. Now, more than ever, publishers compete for attention with fast-moving, cloud-native technology platforms (think Google and Facebook) that often sidestep the editorial rigor publishing firms instinctively employ. When DevOps teams can reconfigure infrastructure quickly and embrace agile practices, the whole publication process speeds up -- and the industry becomes more appealing to burgeoning developer talent.
  • Creating more automation. Budgets have been shrinking in publishing for most of the past 20 years -- and the 2020 ad crisis has significantly increased the existing financial pressure. Any cost that can be reduced by automation, or lower service fees, is money that isn't cut from newsrooms, editors, or production.
  • Building a better product. Most publishers are looking to other media or revenue opportunities (see previous blog) to secure their future, and many of these options -- such as subscription services, broadcast content, or e-commerce affiliations -- will require new technology solutions. Even firms who have already gone down the subscription route need to find new hooks to stop subscribers from churning. DevOps teams will be at the forefront of developing, testing, deploying, and monitoring these new services.

As an enabling technology for DevOps and microservices, edge computing allows website and application services to execute closer to clients. Operating at the edge of the cloud reduces the latency and network bottlenecks that can result from relying on a central location for all requests. Processes like multiple external requests to fetch data, dynamic content assembly, and JSON web token authentication take place at the edge, just one hop away from a reader -- improving response time and efficiency.

Akamai fully supports publishers embracing DevOps. EdgeWorkers is a powerful, highly customizable serverless computing service that allows developers to use JavaScript to execute fast-to-market application and site modifications, managed by existing DevOps environments and tooling, directly in the Akamai platform. We also offer infrastructure-as-code tools like Terraform or GitOps, robust test environments in Akamai Sandbox, Image and Video Manager customizations, more than 10 command-line interface packages for integration with myriad DevOps tools, and the ability to feed performance data from mPulse or Datastream into monitoring tools like Datadog. 

Akamai's agile DevOps capabilities help you improve speed, scalability, and flexibility -- so you can stay focused on publishing great content. Learn more about Akamai for DevOps