L’Equipe: Finding the right team to offer greater flexibility for France’s premier sports site

About L’Equipe

In print since 1946, L’Equipe is France’s go-to daily newspaper for sports news. The L’Equipe media group now also comprises a TV channel, website, and apps.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: France

About Skale-5

Paris-based Skale-5 specializes in the integration and management of cloud-based services, providing 24/7 dedicated app monitoring.

L’Equipe migrated its infrastructure to Google Cloud for greater flexibility and faster development, infrastructure cost savings, and easier development of new features for readers.

Google Cloud results

  • Offers more granular billing breakdown, contributing to savings in infrastructure costs
  • Creates more efficient infrastructure, enabling L’Equipe to reduce the number of front web servers needed by 40%
  • Speeds up release of progressive web application (PWA) to improve reader experience across all desktop and mobile apps

Millions of files migrated in four hrs with zero downtime

With the use of capabilities such as VAR teams, which review video playback to assist football referees on the pitch with difficult decisions, technology is transforming the way sport is played. It’s also changed how fans watch games and interact with one another, chatting on fan forums and social media, and keeping an eye on results through real-time updates. France’s most popular sports newspaper L’Equipe has been serving its readers online since 2000, and its website is one of the most popular in France, with 15 million unique monthly visitors. The media group also runs a TV channel, as well as iOS and Android apps.

“We had a hosted infrastructure before, but it was too inflexible. We decided to move to the cloud so we could be more autonomous. Being able to change our architecture whenever we want enables us to develop new features and keep our readers interested.”

Céline Aurégan, Team Leader, L’Equipe

For fans looking for the latest news on a wide range of sports from football, tennis, and NBA basketball through to handball, boxing, and golf, L’Equipe is a point of reference. That means the website needs to be able to provide match results as they happen. During particularly popular matches, the site experiences sudden peaks in traffic: during a Paris Saint-Germain versus Manchester United game, traffic peaked at 300,000 page views per minute.

In 2018, L’Equipe realized that in order to develop faster while maintaining site performance, it needed to migrate from its previous legacy system. With just a four-month window before the contract with its existing hosting provider would have to be renewed, L’Equipe chose Google Cloud and implementation partner Skale-5 as the right team to deliver a speedy, smooth migration.

“We had a hosted infrastructure before, but it was too inflexible,” explains Céline Aurégan, Team Leader at L’Equipe. “We decided to move to the cloud so we could be more autonomous. Being able to change our architecture whenever we want enables us to develop new features and keep our readers interested.”

Creating a more flexible infrastructure

To stay relevant for their readers, contemporary media sites need to be able to react quickly. As well as making sure its portal is fast and stable, L’Equipe needs to be able to roll out new features and updates to the site on a regular basis. “Previously, it could take several weeks or more to get a new server,” says Céline. “We have a team of 35 developers, and they were getting frustrated as it was so difficult to provision test environments to work on new features.” At the same time, L’Equipe wanted to maintain the performance of its site, including dealing with traffic peaks. “Our peaks in traffic can be very sudden,” says Céline. “Seventy percent of our traffic comes from mobile devices: we generally send out 3.5 million notifications, and the opening rate can reach ten percent.”

To choose the right provider for the job, L’Equipe looked at a number of cloud platforms. It chose Google Cloud after meeting Skale-5, which provided the most convincing solution. L’Equipe decided to migrate all its services to the cloud in one go, taking a “lift-and-shift” approach to minimize disruption and meet its deadline. “Our agreement with our old hosting provider was due to end in December, so we had four months between September and December to migrate,” says Céline. The migration also had to be completed with zero downtime: the site needed to remain functional for users who expect updates around the clock and L’Equipe’s journalists who submit content between 6 AM and the following 1 AM every day. The team successfully migrated all services during a chosen slot of four hours, with zero downtime for readers, despite providing live NBA coverage throughout that night.

L’Equipe migrated the back end for its website to Compute Engine, using Cloud Load Balancing to handle traffic and Stackdriver for monitoring and reporting. It also migrated to Cloud Memorystore for Redis, and Cloud SQL. It currently uses Google Kubernetes Engine to host additional logging and monitoring services and Cloud Console for its cloud resource management.

Applying a DevOps philosophy with Skale-5

L’Equipe chose Skale-5 as its implementation partner because it felt the Skale-5 team had a similar developer background, hence “spoke the same language” as its own developers. “Our relationship is built on trust and collaboration,” says Céline. “From the start, they took the time to understand our infrastructure and the legacy code we were working with.”

Taking the advice of Skale-5, L’Equipe adopted the principle of infrastructure as code to enable it to easily deploy modifications and improvements. To change the infrastructure, a request is pushed to an automatic CI/CD pipeline. As a result, it’s easier to make changes, and new code is deployed every day.

“We talk to Skale-5 on a daily basis, and we have shared monitoring dashboards, as well as weekly monitoring meetings,” says Céline. “The collaboration is very smooth, and they’re always on hand to offer advice.”

Optimizing costs and moving faster with Google Cloud

“We’ve not only saved on infrastructure costs, we’ve also been able to reduce the number of servers we’re using by 40% and receive more power from them. By migrating to Google Cloud, we’ve simultaneously streamlined and strengthened our architecture.”

Céline Aurégan, Team Leader, L’Equipe

Now that it’s much easier to add servers and create development landscapes, L’Equipe’s development team has been able to move faster to provide new features for its readers. “On Google Cloud, it’s really easy to set up a new service in just a few hours, which makes it easier to develop new projects,” says Céline. “This year, we’ve been able to launch a new website and new mobile apps, which offer an improved experience for the reader.” The development team is happier, as it can work in a more autonomous way. “Our backend and frontend developers are able to push to production themselves, which helps to avoid bottlenecks. They don’t have to wait as long to see results, which gives them a great incentive to start building new technical challenges faster or updating versions of our components.” says Céline.

Since switching to Google Cloud, L’Equipe has been reaping savings on its infrastructure, as well as improving its efficiency. “We’ve not only saved on infrastructure costs, we’ve also been able to reduce the number of servers we’re using by 40% and receive more power from them,” says Céline. “By migrating to Google Cloud, we’ve simultaneously streamlined and strengthened our architecture.”

“With Google Cloud, we can be more agile than before. Having a modern infrastructure is important, as we want our team to stay motivated. We want to provide them with the tools they need to offer our readers the best experience, so our site can stay ahead of the game.”

Céline Aurégan, Team Leader, L’Equipe

L’Equipe now plans to start implementing auto-scaling, to make it even easier to manage peaks in traffic. It’s also planning to rework its infrastructure and use Google Kubernetes Engine in production. “We’re also looking at capabilities such as machine learning,” says Céline. “We think it could help us gain valuable insights from our sport data so we can keep innovating.”

“With Google Cloud, we can be more agile than before,” she adds. “Having a modern infrastructure is important, as we want our team to stay motivated. We want to provide them with the tools they need to offer our readers the best experience, so our site can stay ahead of the game.”

About L’Equipe

In print since 1946, L’Equipe is France’s go-to daily newspaper for sports news. The L’Equipe media group now also comprises a TV channel, website, and apps.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: France

About Skale-5

Paris-based Skale-5 specializes in the integration and management of cloud-based services, providing 24/7 dedicated app monitoring.