Isentia, headquartered in Sydney, Australia, is a leading media-intelligence provider for the Asia-Pacific region. The company operates from 18 offices across the region and supports more than 5,000 clients worldwide, including 84 of the world’s top 100 brands. Isentia’s products help customers make more informed and timely business and communication decisions. Customer-facing services include media monitoring, media relations, media analytics, content marketing, community management, and digital content creation.
The arrival of digital and social media has changed the communications landscape. Companies now have a multitude of platforms to connect with target groups, journalists, and the wider public. Ask people in corporate communications or marketing what this landscape means to them and they’ll often cite a larger workload created by a faster and more dynamic media landscape.
Isentia offers tools and services to help corporate communications and marketing teams come to terms with the proliferation of platforms and realize opportunities for engagement with customers via these platforms. The company enables customers to track stories that could impact their organizations across digital and social media platforms. “Our job is to help clients make more timely and effective communication decisions,” says Andrea Walsh, chief information officer at Isentia.
Everything at Isentia is built around IT and its clients—be it the company’s flagship communication platform, Mediaportal, its social-media-listening applications, or the repository for the company’s millions of media files. Yet, the Isentia IT team found it challenging to maintain a high level of IT performance; in particular, the company’s storage environment needed to be updated to cope with digital volumes and a real-time media-intelligence environment.
The Isentia team was spending too much time managing its IT instead of on product development. “My plan was to move to the cloud and migrate to more reliable systems that provided much faster response times and could process large volumes of data in a timely manner,” Walsh says.
Before moving to the cloud, Isentia explored the offerings of multiple cloud-service providers. It narrowed the choice down to several vendors and ultimately chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) because company stakeholders felt AWS was platform agnostic. “Increasingly we are using open-source technology, and AWS was more advanced than other cloud providers in the open-source space,” says Walsh. The first project involved migrating Isentia’s broadcast storage to the AWS Cloud. The team worked with an AWS solutions architect to design a cloud-storage environment for the media files based on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).
After the success of its broadcast-storage project, Isentia looked to migrate both Mediaportal and its social-media-listening services to AWS. Isentia also wanted to use the AWS Cloud as a platform for integrating internal business applications across its offices. The Isentia IT team worked closely with multiple AWS Partners including Bryte to develop a cloud-based data pipeline to support the services and integrate the company’s disparate systems. In collaboration with Bryte and AWS Partners, the Isentia IT team designed the pipeline.
The data pipeline relies on a wide range of AWS services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for compute instances and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), which is configured in a high-availability mode across multiple AWS Availability Zones in the AWS Asia Pacific (Sydney) Region and stores data such as transaction logs. Amazon Kinesis streams are used to capture social-media conversations across the web. AWS Lambda performs preliminary computations on data before it gets deposited in Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR), a web service that enables businesses to cost effectively process vast amounts of data. Once processing is complete, AWS Lambda pushes the finished data to Isentia’s client-facing dashboards, which are continuously updated as events develop.
Isentia has overcome the challenge it faced with the lack of flexibility of its broadcast storage. Data throughput has also significantly improved for Mediaportal and social listening, allowing customers to receive data on news stories and social media events much more quickly. “The performance of Mediaportal has increased by 25 percent and the performance for social-listening products has increased by 40 percent since we migrated to AWS,” Walsh says. “Mediaportal is delivering a better service than ever to our customers through AWS. It’s giving them the information they need to reach target groups and interact with journalists and the public more effectively.”
Today, internal applications such as the company’s report-builder software are running fourfold faster with AWS, which means executives can more quickly gain insight into the operation of Isentia so they can make informed business decisions.
The IT team has also moved its resources away from management in order to focus on service and product development. “We have reduced administration time by at least 50 percent through our adoption of AWS. Therefore, we can focus more on creating new services and being a center of innovation for Isentia,” says Walsh. Added to the reduced management time is an increase in the speed of development. Indeed, IT staff have halved the time it takes to launch environments for new services. Furthermore, once testing is completed, the services can be easily switched to production environments without taking any systems offline. “With AWS, we are making Isentia a more agile business,” says Walsh.