AWS Case Study: Thomson Reuters
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is one of the world's leading sources of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. The company provides information solutions and services for corporate interests, including investor and public relations, marketing, and business intelligence. Within Thomson Reuters, the Multimedia Solutions unit specializes in expanding the reach of business communication through webcasts, webinars, and multimedia presentations.
Thomson Reuters is headquartered in New York, New York, and employs approximately 60,000 people in over 100 countries.
Webcasting is a core service within the Multimedia Solutions unit. In fact, the company supports the webcasting needs of 5,000 companies around the world; a majority of these companies distribute regulated financial information, such as quarterly results and forward-looking statements. Much of this content must be released publically and webcasts are more accessible and cost-effective than the previously popular conference call.
Between 2004 and 2009, Thomson Reuters acquired several different webcasting companies, which all operated independently under the Multimedia Solutions unit. However, the company needed to consolidate the divergent technologies into a unified global platform that could boost audio quality and resiliency.
Elasticity was another important consideration because webcasting activity fluctuates with the Quarterly Reports calendar. Simon Ball, Thomson Reuters’ Global Head of Operations, Multimedia Delivery, and Infrastructure, states, “We can hold 300 concurrent calls on a very busy day, whereas on a weekend in December there might be nothing at all.”
Why Amazon Web Services
Lacking the physical structure to support a new global platform, Thomson Reuters turned to solutions provider id3as for help. Both companies agreed that creating an on-premise local infrastructure from scratch was not cost-effective because the entire system would need to be continually maintained—regardless of demand. In addition, in-house machines have a maximum capacity, which could restrict performance when Thomson Reuters would need it most. Faced with scalability limitations from some vendors during the evaluation process, the company chose Amazon Web Services (AWS).
id3as deployed an Erlang-based encoding application (with built-in support for concurrency, distribution and fault tolerance) to AWS. By positioning Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances in multiple Availability Zones, Thomson Reuters could continue to benefit from redundancy, but eliminate resource limitations.
Thomson Reuters is now operating a significant portion of its webcasting business on AWS. The new platform gives the company complete ownership over its workflow, improving risk management while lowering costs. “Compared to the previous service providers, we were able to reduce operating expenses by 40%–50%, not including the depreciated cost to build the application,” notes Simon Ball. The company also avoided approximately $1 million per year. Future enhancements may include Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network.
With some webcasts attracting over 2000 concurrent viewers, the global webcasting platform is now poised for unrestricted growth. Ball explains, “What can be achieved by using the cloud is far easier than we anticipated. Building infrastructure is tough, but this worked. It’s a matter of using the right tool for the job. AWS knows the product they sell and they are in a different league in terms of elasticity. Other providers simply weren’t capable of offering the scalability we require.”
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