British Medical Journal uses Datapipe to build the foundations for change


BMJ started out over 170 years ago as a medical journal. Now as a global brand, BMJ has expanded to encompass 60 specialist medical and allied science journals with millions of readers.

BMJ has moved its digital platform to a fully automated shared-nothing architecture with virtualised infrastructure. In doing so, it has brought a new culture of sustainable development and continuous integration to the organisation.

BMJ’s story is a familiar one: Its infrastructure had grown organically over time as new sites, applications and features were commissioned. However, as it grew it increasingly built a technical debt.

‘In a way, we were victims of our own success,’ explained Alex Hooper, head of operations, BMJ. ‘The Technology Department’s focus was on getting the new products to market and there was little time to go back and revise the architecture. An expiring hosting contract and the subsequent review of hosting providers gave us an opportunity to pay off that technical debt and to design for the future.’

BMJ had become a 24/7 organisation in recent years and its product portfolio had become international in profile, so the capacity and availability for allowing downtime – scheduled or otherwise – was diminishing. It needed to change its culture and move to a sustainable development cycle of continuous integration and automation. However, it was also used to being in control and keeping everything in-house, so it needed a managed service provider (MSP) who could work in true partnership.

In order to find an MSP to partner with, BMJ set a short task for the shortlisted vendors to enable them to demonstrate their expertise and commitment.

‘Datapipe was the only provider that stepped up to and completed our challenge successfully. It set the foundations of a fruitful working partnership,’ Hooper explained. ‘We wanted someone with the whole package; someone we felt we could work in partnership with. Datapipe had managed AWS; they did hybrid clouds; they could help us expand into China and they had the adaptability to work with us in the way we wanted. Some vendors draw a line – you’re either fully managed or not at all, but Datapipe had the flexibility and the know-how to work BMJ’s way.’

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