AWS CASE STUDY
HOSTING, THE DEVOPS WAY
VRT Taal is a web service of the flemish public TV and Radio broadcaster. The service provides information and advice on the dutch language. Their website was in need of a refreshment and for the hosting of this updated website they decided to go with Cloudar.
The Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie (Flemish Radio and Television Broadcasting Organisation), or VRT, is the national public-service broadcaster for the Flemish Region and Community of Belgium. VRT is the successor to the Nationaal Instituut voor de Radio-omroep (NIR, 1930–60), Belgische Radio- en Televisieomroep (BRT, 1960–1991), and Belgische Radio- en Televisieomroep Nederlandstalige Uitzendingen (BRTN, 1991–1998). The NIR (known as the INR in French) and BRT (RTB in French) had each been single state-owned entities with separate Dutch- and French-language production departments. However, in 1977, as part of the ongoing state reform in Belgium broadcasting became reserved to the language communities rather than the national government in 1977. Accordingly, BRT/RTB went their separate ways in 1977. While the former French half changed its name to RTBF in 1977, the Dutch side retained the BRT name until becoming BRTN in 1991. However, the two broadcasters share production facilities on Auguste Reyerslaan in Brussels.
The final renaming to VRT, on 1 January 1998, followed a change in the organization’s legal status: from being part of a semi-governmental entity (a parastatale in Belgian terminology) it had, on 16 April 1997, became a publicly owned corporation (NV van publiek recht) in its own right.
We wanted to set up the hosting of the website on multiple environments (imagine a development environment, one for stage and one for production). This ensures testing can happen on multiple levels before new code is actually deployed to production. We also wanted to make the website fault tolerant. Using only one server would result in a total failure of the website if something were to happen to that server.
“Through their knowledge and dedication, Cloudar helped us move our infrastructure faster than initially hoped.”– GUY LEMMENS, HEAD OPERATIONS & QA, VRT
The solution designed by Cloudar for VRT was developed with High-Availability, Scalabality & Security in mind, all built up from a well-architected core:
- Every environment has its own AWS Elastic Beanstalk and its own database.
- In the stage and production environment the Beanstalk has two instances to ensure the website remains functional if a failure were to happen. The two nodes can share files using Amazon EFS which is required for the Drupal platform that is deployed on them.
- The website itself is protected and cached by putting an AWS CloudFront distribution in front of it.
We also made use of a number of AWS technical partner solutions:
- The infrastructure was managed using AWS CloudFormation. Both code and infrastructure were deployed on AWS using Jenkins.
- CloudCheckr© was used to ensure the setup complied with AWS best practices and to ensure ongoing compliance once the solution was in production.
- Site24x7© was used in conjunction with AWS CloudWatch to ensure optimal performance across all environments.
- Veeam N2WS was used to guarantee reliable backups and enabled us to create a solid disaster recovery plan for VRT
- The use of multiple environments gives developers the flexibility to test their code on a production-like setup.
- The use of fault tolerance ensures that if a server failed the website would still be functional for its users.
- Thanks to the use of Beanstalk developers can deploy their new code to the website with ease