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Channel 5

Delivering the My5 cloud transformation for Channel 5

The Challenge

Deliver a flawless, zero-downtime cloud transformation of the My5 on-demand television service.

My5 is Channel 5’s popular on-demand TV service, available via smart TV, computer and mobile devices.

As with any high-profile service, the user experience needs to be flawless. My5 must be available and able to perform well at all times, even under unpredictable peak loads.

People at home access My5 through a variety of apps, which were built by a third party. Underpinning these are key foundation services, which are critical to the functioning of the apps. These services have been looked after and enhanced by Softwire for a number of years. All were running on-premises.

Channel 5 wanted to modernise its technology estate by moving to the cloud. The aim was to reduce costs, enhance availability, be able to flex instantly in line with demand and improve the experience for viewers.

As its trusted development and support partner for these critical My5 services, Channel 5 asked Softwire to plan and deliver their cloud transformation. This needed to be delivered flawlessly, with zero downtime, both at cutover and beyond.

Our Solution

We designed a high-availability cloud platform and rewrote parts of the services to enable them to scale on-demand in the cloud. We then delivered a zero-downtime migration.

Cloud advisory and design

Working closely with Channel 5, we identified AWS as the best home for the My5 foundation services. It offered a number of proven services that would be essential in meeting Channel 5’s aims. Using AWS also aligned with Channel 5 owner Viacom’s cloud strategy, meaning the broadcaster would benefit from existing support capabilities within the business.

We architected the cloud platform to deliver exceptionally high levels of availability, and to align with Viacom policies.

Software refactoring to enable scaling

We identified that a straightforward ‘lift-and-shift’ of the My5 services would not enable them to benefit from the near-instant horizontal scalability inherent in the cloud. We containerised the services using Docker, rewriting parts of the code to split previously monolithic applications into smaller parts.

As part of this refactoring, we improved the way the services handle key data, to make use of cloud-specific capabilities. This would enhance the user experience, including by enabling certain programmes to be available to watch sooner than they were previously.

Zero-downtime migration

Following extensive testing of our solution and its integrations with various other television platforms, we ran a phased switchover to the cloud, ensuring zero downtime for My5 viewers.

The Result

Our cloud platform reduces costs, improves the viewer experience and gives Channel 5 the foundations for new services.

The benefits to Channel 5 and the viewing public have been felt immediately.

Scalability delivers flexibility and cost savings

The My5 foundation services now scale in real time, meaning Channel 5 no longer has to pay for infrastructure capable of supporting peak loads at all times – or even predict the size and timing of those peaks.

Reduced disaster recovery costs

In addition, the move to the cloud has dramatically reduced the cost and complexity of the disaster recovery (DR) solution required to ensure My5’s availability.

Better user experience

For viewers accessing My5, the experience is markedly improved, with the service performing better at peak times, while certain programmes are available to watch sooner after broadcast than they were previously.

Easier to support and modernise

From a product development perspective, the cloud move and service refactoring mean My5 is now significantly easier to maintain and improve.

Enhancements are now entirely in the hands of the developers, where previously multiple parties were involved. Consequently, updates will be quicker and cheaper to implement, and Channel 5 can embrace fresh technologies and roll out new features on a rolling basis.

Customer reflections

Peter Frost, the programme manager for Channel 5, commented: “This migration of the video-on-demand infrastructure was completely business-critical, accounting for around 50% of Channel 5’s total viewing figures. It needed to be done with no loss of service.

“Working with Softwire, having the team on-site, advising us and sharing their progress, was invaluable. This was a complex project with a lot of technical uncertainty. Softwire really helped us break it down into manageable chunks that we could then deliver together.

“This move has given Channel 5 the platform it needs to build new services around My5, which will further reduce costs, offer new revenue opportunities and provide even better experiences for viewers.”

Client
Channel 5

Technologies
AWS, Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS), Docker

The project
Take Channel 5’s video-on-demand service to the cloud.

The results
New platform reduces costs, improves user experience and provides foundations for exciting new features.