Media and Tech

Axel Springer National Media & Tech

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Company description
Axel Springer National Media & Tech is a division of international media and technology company Axel Springer SE, which owns and operates well-known media brands like Insider, Politico, Bild, and Welt, as well as classifieds portals StepStone Group and AVIV Group. Based in Berlin, Germany, Axel Springer operates in more than 40 countries around the world and employs around 16,000 people.
Company size
500
Engineering team size
300
Stack
AWS, Terraform
Axel Springer_white

Axel Springer National Media & Tech was battling long release cycles due to error-prone, manual deployments that didn’t scale. Spacelift has become a key part of their work to spin up a new environment in 40 minutes and swiftly and painlessly deploy updates to all their platform’s instances across the company.

Andreas Prang and Martin Weber of Axel Springer’s National Media & Tech division are part of a team that works to align the technology infrastructure and editorial tools of the company’s German media brands by deploying an in-house software platform across them all. Here they tell us about their experience with integrating Spacelift into their workflow.

The challenge

We regularly deploy new instances of our software platform. Before we used Spacelift, we had a template repository containing our Terraform code, and whenever we began a new setup we made a clone of it to create a new instance. The problem we faced was updating all of these new instances with new features as we added them to the original template. Sometimes it would take as long as one month to roll out feature improvements.

Deployments were mostly carried out on developers’ local machines. That was not reliable and it didn’t scale very well with the growing number of setups we had to provision, especially as drift wasn’t always detected promptly.

Why we chose Spacelift

We ran a comparison against the competition and were attracted to Spacelift by its features like drift detection and policy management via Open Policy Agent. But what particularly appealed to us was that Spacelift is open-minded about the infrastructure-as-code space – it’s not limited only to Terraform. We have been using Terragrunt for a long time and it was very important that we could continue to use it, so Spacelift was a no-brainer.

We liked Spacelift’s pricing model, which is well-suited to a company like ours. And we appreciated their simple, direct communication that quickly answered our questions before we signed up. No matter the time of day, they were responsive.

The Spacelift experience

We’re still in the process of fully implementing Spacelift to manage deployment across all instances of our platform, but it’s working just as well as we needed it to.

Spacelift is solid, reliable software and the team deals with any issues or questions we have quickly.

The front-end is impressive and the Spacelift team regularly adds new features. Everything we have in Spacelift has been provisioned through Terraform as well, so we do not need to click anything manually in there. This has turned out to be a key feature for us.

Impact

We are migrating many of our brands from our previous template-based approach, transitioning to an internal process where setup for a team can be provisioned, deployed, and managed by simply specifying a team config YAML and using Spacelift as the system and the backend to make all of that happen. This works exactly as we wanted it to. 

We can scale the number of platform instances and keep them all up to date without devoting one or two people to the process for months at a time. This means we can devote more of our resources to development.

Our ultimate goal is to be able to spin up a new environment in 40 minutes–a significant time saving as this previously took us two days–and Spacelift is key to achieving this. As we work towards it, Spacelift’s benefits are already being felt when we go out to meet the development teams at all of our media brands.

While giving a presentation about our platform, we spin up a new instance with Spacelift in the background so it’s ready for the team to start using immediately afterwards. Previously, this would have been impossible because of all the manual steps involved. It’s transformed the way we introduce our platform to our teams across the country.

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