Cloud storage isn’t sexy, but it’s often cost-efficient.
In September, IAC — the parent company of publishers including Dotdash, Investopedia and The Daily Beast — finished a 12-month project of moving the data storage and back-end tech infrastructure of its 50 digital media sites to the cloud. No longer having to maintain 2,000 servers across eight different physical locations will save IAC $10 million a year, the company said.
The toughest part of making this change is that learning to operate cloud computing services is like learning to speak a new language, said Maxx Lobo, vp of platform and cloud services at IAC Publishing. Once IAC decided to make this change, it had to train 425 developers and engineers to write and analyze code for Amazon Web Services, the vendor that IAC chose.
IAC wouldn’t say how much it pays Amazon for cloud services, but it acknowledged that its scale allowed it to negotiate a cheaper rate than the standard prices on Amazon’s website. For companies that store 100 terabytes of data with Amazon, its standard monthly rate is 2 cents per gigabyte.
Instead of migrating data to the cloud on a site-by-site basis, IAC migrated pieces of multiple sites simultaneously over the cloud, Lobo said. The first pieces of code it moved to the cloud were consumer-facing products like the design elements that make up its websites. Last to move to the cloud were its data lakes that host its raw user data.
Another challenge of pulling off a project this big is getting people to go along with it.
“The hardest part of large-scale cloud migrations isn’t technical,” said Ben Jackson, founder of publisher consulting firm For the Win. “It’s building consensus with stakeholders across dozens of sites, each with its own team, priorities and limitations.”
Getting executives to back the project enabled IAC to get 50 different sites to agree on it, Lobo said.
“Our CEO put a stake in the ground and said, ‘We are going to do it,’” Lobo said.
While IAC Publishing — the IAC unit that includes Dotdash, Investopedia, The Daily Beast, Ask.com and Dictionary.com — is now fully on the cloud, its other business units are not. This includes its video platforms like Vimeo and CollegeHumor as well as Match Group, which is made up of dating networks like Tinder and OkCupid. A company spokesperson said IAC plans to eventually bring all of its properties to the cloud, but no timeline has been set.