Even in 2011, a deployment cycle of six weeks was too long for ITV. They wanted to shift to an open source system that would support the emerging concept of DevOps. Transforming systems in such a large and complex organisation is never going to be simple though. By doing it, ITV led the way in modernising production in the UK media industry.
In 2011, ITV’s challenge were not small. To remain competitive they needed to become more efficient. They needed to move from waterfall to agile, and they needed an infrastructure that could support that and the changes in the industry. TV was now something people watched everywhere, and they expected information and applications to support their viewing. Products needed to be developed fast and updated frequently.
We first became involved in the Online & On-demand division of ITV in 2011 when they needed support in improving their operations. A six-week-long deployment lifecycle and a labour-intensive deployment process, meant that changes were painful and expensive. The division was also experiencing challenges in delivering some of their content. Our job was initially to add better monitoring and metrics to help with troubleshooting.
The decision was then taken to move from a Windows stack to an open-source Linux-based infrastructure to resolve some of the issues the division was experiencing. It was also an opportunity to improve automation, standards and quality.
We were involved in the procurement process, and then in managing the transition from Windows to Linux. As part of this we devised the development standards for Linux on the new platform. These were later used to inform the standards for ITV’s Common Platform.
All new products using Common Platform are deployed onto AWS today, and we were involved in ITV’s first public cloud deployment in 2014. Prior to this, infrastructure had been the bottleneck for most new products. ITV’s managed hosting provider wasn’t responsive enough to support their new development approach. This mismatch came to a head when ITV needed to launch an online experience for a major sporting event.
We helped their team design, build and deploy a new infrastructure on AWS within six weeks. This deployment proved that AWS could work for ITV, and the platform design became a foundation for their cloud delivery approach. Infrastructure was no longer a bottleneck, and today, through Common Platform, a new product can have a cloud infrastructure ready to use within days. We continue to work with ITV, providing engineers and consultants as needed to support the Common Platform and individual product teams.
ITV’s transformation and continuing development of the Common Platform is recognised as a good example of how DevOps can improve standards and efficiency, and cut costs in large organisations.
Our ongoing involvement with the Common Platform team, has been mutually beneficial too. Our own AWS practice and ITV’s have evolved in tandem, and our teams have been able to share experiences and knowledge.