Top media company transforming digital services with Azure
By Customer Stories on April 28, 2016
Filed under Media & Entertainment
The Huffington Post has won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting; digital ad revenue has long eclipsed print; and the term newspaper is fast becoming a misnomer. Like it or loathe it, the digital divide is here to stay, and media companies are leading the way with websites, apps, and new online services. In fact, coming up with innovative services is one of the biggest challenges facing all businesses today.
According to The Guardian, digital media trends for 2016 include new subscription services, mobile live streaming, and increasingly personalized advertising. To compete, media companies need to deliver relevant services quickly—and that requires better insight and access to data.
Digital services for the modern era
One of the largest media companies in Europe, Sanoma Corporation has operations in multiple countries and offerings across virtually every type of media, from magazines and newspapers to TV, radio, and games. The company was also an early adopter of digital media and has published digital versions of its flagship newspapers since 1996. Today, the company is enhancing and expanding digital services across all its channels.
To simplify the creation of innovative online services for multiple business groups, Sanoma had created application programming interfaces (APIs) that provide access to data, including consumer profiles and media content. “A few years back, we decided from the enterprise architecture perspective that we were doing quite a lot of the same things throughout our different digital services,” says Juha Tarvainen, Development Manager, Sanoma Corporation. “So we started to gather these common capabilities that are used across multiple services and began building out an API strategy.”
The new APIs included identity, payment, and subscription management services that were core to an array of digital offerings. But to deliver the APIs, Sanoma needed a highly secure and scalable platform with tools for monitoring usage across digital channels and geographies. It also needed the flexibility to support a complex, multifaceted environment with not only diverse brands and digital assets, but also developers working in a variety of programming environments and apps for different platform, including mobile devices.
“We have many types of digital channels for mobile and web, and they are all built on top of APIs,” says Tarvainen. “So it’s super-critical for our business that we’re able to manage APIs simply and securely.”
Highly secure and scalable cloud platform
Sanoma looked at multiple options, including building its own in-house solution. The company also looked at various cloud vendors before choosing Microsoft Azure API Management to centrally manage its APIs. “Because of regulatory requirements, we had to serve our APIs within EU boundaries, which was a requirement that Microsoft, with two datacenters in Europe, could easily fulfill,” says Timo Tervo, Director of Technology Strategy, Sanoma Corporation. “And we had a list of privacy and security requirements in our RFP that Microsoft also satisfied. Microsoft Azure’s stance on privacy and security is well known and meets the tight EU privacy rules, so we’re happy that we’re in safe hands with Azure API Management.”
The solution uses Azure ExpressRoute to connect diverse assets hosted in Sanoma datacenters and other environments such as Amazon Web Services. Sanoma also created a self-service portal with Azure API Management so that developers can easily access and test APIs as they build out new services in the cloud. The company uses the tool to monitor the health and usage of APIs for operational improvement. Tervo reports smooth performance: “We’re serving millions of API calls per day through the Azure platform without any scalability worries.”
Expanded business opportunities
Sanoma anticipates rapid and continuous development of new consumer services for its customers. “Azure API Management and our API-first architecture support the iterative development needed for arriving at the best customer experience,” says Tervo. “The media business is very event-driven. I’m confident that we can handle the traffic and that the system will scale out to all the volumes we would ever need during a peak, and then back down again.”
Because Sanoma pays only for the services it uses but can scale out instantly—including across geographies—when needed, it’s ready for future opportunities without a big, upfront investment in IT infrastructure. “It could be a football match or any other major event, but whatever the event, we can create a monetization model in which we sold special-event tickets,” says Tarvainen. “An API management platform on Azure enables us to be prepared for those types of business-led capacity and availability challenges.”
Accelerated innovation and a competitive edge
Sanoma Corporation continues to forge ahead in a new era of digital media, creating new services that meet customer expectations in an ever-changing landscape. “Development is getting faster and faster in the digital world. So from the perspective of developing new services, Azure API Management simplifies secure access to core API capabilities and enables us to really focus on app innovation and the customer experience.”