Rupert Murdoch’s global media company diverged into two separate companies last year, 21st Century Fox, which retains the film and cable business, and refreshed News Corp, which houses publications such as The Times and The Sun. The first initiative of digital transformation was to adopt a ‘cloud-first’ policy.
“21st Century Fox had one year to change, working under a deadline,” explains Rich Roseman, formerly the CIO of 21st Century Fox, who led the IT side of the split.
The decision to split was a result of the News Corp phone hacking scandal, but also derived from the recognition that digital had a different impact on film than it did on a declining print industry. News Corp moved to implement cloud across the newspaper businesses for speed, flexibility and cost savings.Roseman explains, “We implemented a total cloud deployment for the publication business because of the uncertainty of the future.” Being able to innovate and react quickly to the marketplace would give them an agility not seen in years.
Rather than migrating the existing in-house, highly customized apps, they looked forward to apps that functionally that served across the whole company such as Microsoft, Office 365, and Concur for travel and expenses. As a result, they paved the way for 21st Century Fox to hit the ground running. Despite operating as separate companies, there are parallels between the organization, “The separate businesses went on their own path. Content distribution and creation in concert, but via separate work streams”, said Roseman.
Whereas customers initially pushed both companies to transform, their move to cloud is a greater win that has set them up for further innovation. A key area of focus will be to utilize the cloud to host content and begin consolidating it’s datacenter infrastructure. “At its peak in 2010, News Corp had 65 datacentres spread across globally,” said Chris Birch, News UK IT director. The goal is to exit datacenters completely and shift effort into profitable business ventures. For instance, News UK bought the rights to exclusive Premier League Soccer seasons and “In four months, we built sophisticated access control systems to manage this exclusive content – sports video clips – for our subscribers and we even built mobile apps around them,” he said.
That sort of agility would not have been feasible before with the datacenters, a cost thought be around $100 million a year. A 10-year projection of savings from Birch estimates that “tens of millions of dollars” could be saved from the move to Amazon’s cloud servers and the continual drop in cloud pricing as it becomes more mainstream.
“We can now justify or define the benefit,” said Quinn, CIO of News Corp Australia. “Cloud for a while was like grid computing, hosting, and all those different things. This is real, and it’s different, because it is demand driven. People [the workforce] want it—it’s not vendors trying to push it.”
As previously discussed, cloud is no longer an “if” for businesses. Before jumping into cloud integration, define your strategy, benchmark yourself against your competition and maximize impact by integrating company-wide where applicable.