United Kingdom publisher A&N Media was finding that its existing business integration and management environment required a skills base that was not in line with its decision to standardise on Microsoft technologies. In addition, there was greater internal development capacity in using Microsoft middleware and the Microsoft .NET Framework. The IT team deployed Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009 to integrate disparate systems, enhance end-to-end connectivity, and exchange data more quickly. As a result, A&N Media has achieved its consolidation objectives, improved the supportability of its integration platform, and seen significant performance gains in data capture and aggregation. In one test run, the new solution is exceeded targets by more than 600 per cent and by 64 per cent in a second example. Situation
A&N Media encompasses some of the United Kingdom’s best-known brands in the media and entertainment industry. It is part of the Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), which is listed on the London Stock Exchange and owns the Daily Mail and around 100 regional titles. A&N Media is the parent company of the DMGT national and regional newspaper business.
||We needed the ability to scale up our development capacity quickly to meet the requirements of the business.
Head of Development
As part of its commitment to providing excellent service to the group, the IT team reviewed the performance of the group’s existing middleware. Andrew Goetzee, Head of Development, A&N Media, says: “The system required a skills base that didn’t align with the objective to expand our use of Microsoft technologies. In addition, we needed the ability to scale up our development capacity quickly to meet the requirements of the business.”
The A&N Media Solutions Centre Development team already had in-house skills in Microsoft products, with specific experience in the Microsoft .NET Framework development system and Microsoft middleware. And, in 2010, A&N Media had deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM for its customer relationship management system for advertisement sales, which was part of a company-wide initiative to standardise on Microsoft technology.
A&N Media wanted to operate the new middleware on its preferred Intel platform, taking advantage of virtualisation and lower total cost of ownership with a more environmentally sustainable solution.Solution
After evaluating a number of technologies on the market, A&N Media opted for Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009. A major factor in this was the company’s increasing in-house Microsoft expertise. Simon Trundle, Platform Services Development Manager, A&N Media says: “We chose Microsoft BizTalk Server technology. We took the longer term view for a consistent approach to integration using a supportable, well-established, and trusted environment.”
The IT team was impressed by the ability of BizTalk Server 2009 to integrate disparate systems, enhance connectivity, and exchange data across multiple platforms. A&N Media considered these qualities as prerequisites for more rapid development and deployment—and supporting better-informed decisions across the organisation.
In addition, A&N Media was impressed by the greater community support for BizTalk Server 2009 than its previous system. Trundle says: “There is a wealth of available training resources on the Microsoft Developer Network platform—this helped our developers get up to speed quickly.”
BizTalk Server 2009 offers cohesive service-oriented architecture connectivity with updated connectors advancing interoperability. As part of the solution, A&N Media is also using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software.
Trundle says: “We already had a relationship with Microsoft, but had little exposure to BizTalk Server technology. However, we’d seen that we could use it in a different area of the business with impressive results.” Consequently, A&N Media engaged with Microsoft application integration specialists in a pre-sales capacity and the product was tested during a proof-of-concept exercise in 2008.
With BizTalk Server 2009, the media organisation also has the option to virtualise its environment. In addition, Application Lifecycle Management is made easier with BizTalk Server 2009, giving developers the tools to produce high-quality solutions faster.Benefits
A&N Media has replaced its middleware with a Microsoft enterprise integration and connectivity server solution. BizTalk Server 2009 is an enterprise-ready scalable environment that will help the organisation connect processes, systems, and data more efficiently. Trundle says: “The performance gains are considerable, with files processed in one test run exceeding target by more than 600 per cent and by 64 per cent in a second example. The administration console for BizTalk Server 2009 gives a very coherent view of the system, improving the operations experience for IT staff.”
Firm Gains Easier Access to Data
With BizTalk Server 2009, A&N Media has a development environment through which it can automate real-time data capture and aggregation. This is helping the business work more efficiently.
||BizTalk Server 2009 is a mature environment from Microsoft with proven reliability and uptake across multiple industries. It has delivered immediate customer value and is helping us exchange data across diverse platforms.
Platform Services Development Manager
Trundle says: “BizTalk Server 2009 is a mature environment from Microsoft with proven reliability and uptake across multiple industries. It has delivered immediate customer value and is helping us exchange data across diverse platforms. It’s now easier to scale our development team capacity according to business demand given our increased skills base, as well as the abundance of BizTalk Server skills in the partner and consultancy arena.”
Middleware Supports Shift to Composite Application Development
A&N Media is using BizTalk Server 2009 to support its drive to increase market share in digital publishing. A&N Media aims to expand the digital publishing segment of its business to a quarter of its revenue by 2016, by adding a range of new subscription options. And it is already making progress with this goal. The company, which used to generate 98 per cent of its revenue from print, with 2 per cent coming from digital media, now receives 12 per cent from the digital publishing segment of its business—an increase of 10 per cent.
The digital publishing projects supported by BizTalk Server 2009 are so far largely deployed to back up business-to-business applications, including Jobsite, through which the company operates around 500 job boards, and Motors.co.uk, a source for automobile-related classified advertisements.
Trundle says: “There is a trend in the publishing industry away from print and towards digital media. BizTalk Server 2009 provides an orchestration layer to connect our online publications to the rest of the business and underpin our shift towards developing composite solutions—we plan to make more use of it in the future.” The longer-term roadmap is to use BizTalk Server 2009 to provide business-to-business integration between the digital and print businesses.
User-Friendly Toolset for In-House Solutions Team
Given the emphasis on development in-house at A&N Media, BizTalk Server 2009 is an excellent fit with developers, who already have a solid skills base in Microsoft technologies. In recent years, A&N Media has increased its use of Microsoft enterprise technology and invested in developers experienced in Microsoft products.
The middleware solution increases developer productivity with tighter integration to the Microsoft .NET Framework—a key advantage for the A&N Media Solutions Centre Development team. It operates on the company’s preferred Intel platform and will help the team reduce time to market in delivering scalable, standards-based business applications.
Support for Virtualisation to Reduce Total Cost of Ownership
A&N has the potential to virtualise its environment in future to save money and make the business more environmentally friendly. The IT team believes virtualisation will help the business cut costs, consolidate production servers, and ensure reliable business continuity management. Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
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