Reach Uses Amazon CloudFront to Deliver News to Millions of Customers

Aayushi Shah
3 min readSep 22, 2020

About Reach

Each month, more than 40 million people in the United Kingdom get their news from newspapers and online sites owned by Reach plc. Reach is the largest commercial news publisher in the UK, with more than 150 national and regional news brands including the Mirror, Express, Star, Liverpool Echo, WalesOnline, MyLondon, and BelfastLive. as well as the OK! and New! national magazine brands. Each month, Reach sells over 44.5 million newspapers around the country and reaches a digital audience of over 40 million.

Issues arrive while using different CND provider instead of Amazon

Reach needed to find a different content delivery network (CDN) solution for its 55 core websites to drive down costs. “New features always cost extra with our previous CDN provider,” says Michael Smith, principal engineer for Reach plc. “First, we’d have to negotiate a trial period and then ultimately commit to using a feature for a certain time, possibly requiring professional services to help set everything up. As a result, it was always a struggle for us to adopt CDN features.”

Reach also wanted the agility to be able to quickly make configuration changes and deliver new features to customers. “Configuration management was a challenge because we had to manually do network changes ourselves,” Smith says. “Doing that caused a development bottleneck, so we couldn’t enhance our websites or create ones easily or quickly.”

Migrating Popular Websites to Amazon CloudFront

To address its challenges, Reach chose to migrate its core websites to Amazon CloudFront, a CDN service that securely delivers data and applications to global customers. “We selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) because it has built a reputation for speed of innovation and constantly delivering new services and features,” Smith says. The organization also chose to use Lambda@Edge, an Amazon CloudFront feature that runs code closer to application users in order to reduce latency and boost performance.

Following an initial discovery phase, Reach conducted a trial phase where it ran several smaller websites on Amazon CloudFront. “The majority of our migration time was spent getting the core configuration right,” says Smith. “ We were concerned about making a change and doing something wrong, which could bring down all the sites at once.” To solve its migration challenges, Reach engaged AWS Professional Services for technical assistance.

Delivering Scalability and Performance for 55 Websites

Running its websites on Amazon CloudFront, Reach can ensure scalability and strong performance for the customers visiting its 55 sites. “Using Amazon CloudFront, we can deliver low latency to millions of customers every day,” says Smith. “We also know we can scale our environment(servers) on AWS to support increasing traffic whenever necessary.”

Simplifying Configuration Management

By using AWS to automate its pipeline, developers can make configuration changes on their own without manual processes and approvals. “Previously, we made manual changes many times when we wanted to make a configuration change,” says Smith. “Moving to Amazon CloudFront solved that problem, because we were able to build fully automated pipelines. Now our developers can submit pull requests, review the changes, and push them into production on their own without asking our platform operations team to do it. This means we can move faster when we make any configuration changes at the CDN layer of our websites.”

Deploying New Features Faster

Using AWS, Reach has the agility to create and deploy features faster than before. For example, the company quickly created and implemented service-side A/B testing using Lambda@Edge. “Relying on Amazon CloudFront, we can iterate faster on features at the CDN layer and we have more flexibility with Lambda@Edge.

Benefits of AWS to Reach

1. Provides scalability and performance on 55 websites

2. Delivers the news to 40 million customers with low latency

3. Simplifies configuration management

4. Delivers new features faster

AWS Services Used

  1. Amazon CloudFront

Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment.

2. Lambda@Edge

Lambda@Edge is a feature of Amazon CloudFront that lets you run code closer to users of your application, which improves performance and reduces latency.

3. AWS Professional Services

The AWS Professional Services organization is a global team of experts that can help you realize your desired business outcomes when using the AWS Cloud.