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Why a Media Giant Sold Its Data Center and Headed to the Cloud

Thor Olavsrud | July 16, 2014
Two weeks ago, venerable media company Condé Nast -- publisher of magazines like Vogue, The New Yorker and Wired -- decommissioned its Newark, Del. data center. The 67,200 square feet facility had already been sold and the deal closed. The 105-year-old company had gone all-in with the cloud.

Two weeks ago, venerable media company Condé Nast — publisher of magazines like Vogue, The New Yorker and Wired — decommissioned its Newark, Del. data center. The 67,200 square feet facility had already been sold and the deal closed. The 105-year-old company had gone all-in with the cloud.

"Our job in the technology group at Condé Nast is to provide the content makers in the company with the best tools to create content," says Joe Simon, executive vice president and CTO of Condé Nast. "Now most of our content is distributed across all sorts of places. We've got to ensure that we have the platform and technology flexibility to enable this content to be distributed wherever our editors want it to be. And, of course, we also continue to manage the traditional IT functions like HR and finance and sales."

Print Is Still Strong for Condé Nast, But Digital Is Growing

Unlike many media companies, Condé Nast's increasing focus on digital has not been due to weakness in its print offerings. The past year, Simon says, was the best in the company's long history, and print played a significant part in that.

"Trying to tell my bosses print is dying was never taken seriously," he says. "It's not, not for us. News magazines are getting killed. But these are aspirational magazines. People want to be seen holding them in their hands."

But the company is rapidly expanding its footprint in digital, Simon says. Its Wired brand has always had a strong digital presence, and sites like Ars Technica and Reddit were born online. The company is strongly supporting its brands on tablets and is pushing into video as well.

Simon notes that Condé Nast brands have often fueled movie blockbusters — the film Argo was in part inspired by a Wired article and Brokeback Mountain was inspired by a short story of the same name published in The New Yorker. Now the company has the capability to capitalize on those opportunities itself, he says.

Condé Nast Questions Whether It Should Run Data Centers Anymore

"As we moved down this digital path — everything from creation to distribution — we started looking at our operations and looking at what we should be and shouldn't be in," Simon says. "One of the questions we asked ourselves was: 'Do we really want to be in the business of running data centers anymore?'"

Reaching the answer to that question was difficult. But in the end, Simon's higher-ups agreed: Condé Nast would get out of the data center game.

"The transition was a lot less challenging that the decision to do it," Simon says.

 

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