United Daily News Group, one of Taiwan’s largest large media groups, is based in Taipei, Taiwan, the Republic of China. Founded in 1951, the United Daily News Group’s main affiliated newspaper, United Daily News, is available in North America, Europe, and South East Asia, and has a daily circulation of more than 1.5 million. The publication’s website makes news available to readers 24/7.
In 2010, United Daily News Group formed a new business group, udn tv, to provide an online news video service. “We wanted to use new media to offer our readers more knowledge in a more accessible manner,” says Ming-Yu Wei, Manager, United Daily News Group. “As a media business, we have a fragmented audience that demands to view news across a range of formats, including print, online, and as applications optimized for smartphones or tablets,” says Wei. “However, as an industry, we have yet to arrive at a business model where revenues can fully support these diverse requirements.”
In this environment, United Daily News Group faced a considerable challenge delivering video to computers and mobile devices reliably and cost-effectively on udn tv. The capital investment required to provide this service from servers in an on-premises data center was prohibitive, while bandwidth costs were also extremely high.
After investigating several options, including a local co-location facility and content delivery network (CDN) providers, United Daily News Group selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) to run the video news service. “We found that AWS provided the flexibility we needed to cost-effectively launch the service and make it available to our readers in a timely fashion,” says Wei.
Using AWS, the media company completed the project in about two months and started streaming video on the udn tv website and as a mobile website for iOS and Android devices users.
Four Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances provide resizable compute capacity for the news service. udn tv schedules several one-hour news programs throughout the day and at least five sessions are uploaded daily. When a program is recorded, high-definition videos are uploaded to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and streamed using Amazon CloudFront. The company estimates that 1.5 terabytes of data is stored or processed using Amazon S3. Figure 1 demonstrates the online news video service on AWS.
Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) provides scalable database capacity for the database that holds two types of information: masters (Masterx1) and replicas for search (replicationx1 search). AWS OpsWorks is used to deploy new applications and code to the website and to manage and scale the infrastructure as required—helping achieve zero downtime during deployments. In addition, Amazon ElastiCache allows udn tv to maximize the performance of the online news service by allowing administrators to retrieve information from fast, managed in-memory caches rather than relying on disk-based databases. udn tv takes advantage of Amazon EC2 security groups and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to the infrastructure delivering the video news service.
Deploying its online video news service in the AWS Cloud enabled udn tv to scale to support a ten times growth in the number of viewers numbers since the service began. The elasticity of the AWS Cloud also means the organization can support demand peaks—when loads rise up to higher than average—without compromising performance. “The new service hasn’t experienced any downtime since its launch,” says Wei.
Using AWS helps the company pursue a “multi-screen” strategy for delivering news services, while working on a tight budget. Furthermore, the ease with which developers can access compute, storage and other resources from AWS has given the United Daily News Group the ability to develop new applications and services within weeks, rather than wait months to procure physical servers in an on-premises data center environment.
“AWS enabled us to innovate flexibly and deliver video and other services cost-effectively to meet the challenges of the modern media environment,” says Wei. “We are now exploring developing and delivering a range of new services from the AWS Cloud.”
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