News International CIO aims to be multimedia giant in the cloud

News International CIO Chris Taylor wants to move all the company's infrastructure to the cloud to help drive their transformation from a "great newspaper company to a multimedia giant".

"Our target is to have 100 per cent of our infrastructure in the cloud," Taylor told CIO UK in an in-depth discussion following his guest appearance during Amazon CTO Werner Vogel's keynote at last month's Amazon Web Services Summit.

"We're currently running at around 25 per cent and the target is to be at 75 per cent in the next two years.

"Three years ago we were a great newspaper company, but the board decided we needed to be a great multimedia company. And the cloud was going to be at its heart with AWS."

Taylor joined News International two years ago and assumed the role as CIO in November 2012 when his predecessor Paul Cheesbrough was appointed CTO of parent company News Corporation in the US to report directly to CEO Rupert Murdoch.

Taylor explained he joined News International as he was convinced by their commitment to IT. Other organisations "spoke a good game about technology". And now Taylor himself is charged with helping drive their transformation.

"The cloud is a key part to transforming a modern business," he said.

"With our SaaS [software-as-a-service] we're using Google Apps and Salesforce. With IaaS, we're 90 per cent virtualised on around 600 virtual machines with 25 per cent running through AWS.

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"This was born from the gap between our software teams and systems engineers. It could take up to six weeks to change the infrastructure to give our developers the tools they needed.

"We needed a fast, scalable infrastructure that allowed us to adapt to change quickly, and which also reduced our datacentre footprint significantly, and we had to avoid things that lock you in for years and need on-premise infrastructure.

Indeed, it was reported earlier this year that the publishing arm of News Corporation has 17 main data centres, as well as numerous smaller machine rooms – but that News International was seeking to consolidate down to six data centres with two each in the UK, US and Australia.

At the time the company's head of infrastructure and cloud Ian McDonald said that it was a cost-driven move which was expected to save News International £10 million.

Mobility and BYOD

"If we have people consuming news on or selling subscriptions on the iPad, our journalists need to be using iPads. If we want readers to follow us on Twitter, our journalists need to be all over Twitter – and really the cloud is at the heart of this."

Taylor explained News International's approach to supplying their staff with consumer technology, a similar strategy to that Google CIO Ben Fried discussed with CIO UK earlier in the year about empowering his staff with the technology they needed to get the job done.

Taylor said: "We give our staff access to all mobile devices. There's a tech bar near the canteen which has all the latest devices, training and support for our staff.