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October 19, 2011

Big Brother Reality Program Gets Managed Services Support from Claranet
By Laura Stotler
TMCnet Contributing Editor

The popular Big Brother reality television show is now being supported by managed services provider Claranet. The company will provide scalable, high availability hosting and management services for the show, which airs on Channel 5 in the UK.

By using a hybrid cloud environment, the service from Claranet enables Big Brother's dedicated website to handle surges in demand. The scalability of the services ensures that Channel 5 only pays for the capacity they need and use at any given time.

The addition of the online program has doubled Channel 5's total web traffic, and yet applications have experienced 100 percent uptime, the company reports. The channel's digital offerings center around two dedicated Big Brother services. These include a standalone Big Brother site offering VoD, live updates and editorial content and a Big Brother 2011 Facebook (News - Alert) app. Both services are hosted and managed by Claranet.

Big Brother was brought to Channel 5 through a deal signed with production company Endemol (News - Alert) in April. This left just five months before the first episode was scheduled to be broadcast. Application hosting and management was successfully implemented and tested by Claranet in only six weeks.

Claranet's managed application hosting is based at the company's own facilities. It is complemented by using Amazon Web Services' (News - Alert) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform, which enables dynamic provisioning so that Channel 5 only has to pay for the burst capacity it uses. The company aims to bring together the best people, processes and technology to offer flexible, secure and cost-effective managed services. This guarantees network and application performance, while also enabling customers to focus on their core business instead of IT management.

"The Big Brother audience is one of the most demographically valuable in the TV marketplace," said Paul Thornton-Jones, head of digital media at Channel 5. "Given the predominantly young audience's preference for social media, our core strategy rests upon driving additional on-demand video viewing from audiences for the catch-up programs and clips from the Big Brother House. The aim was to achieve this by encouraging user engagement through social media, which involves pushing news, content and interaction to Twitter (News - Alert), Facebook, and via the dedicated Big Brother website.

"If a Big Brother story breaks, it breaks online first; there is no way to predict when the next big story might occur," added Thornton-Jones. "The application hosting therefore needs to be able to cope with huge traffic spikes. To be affordable, however, this capacity needed to be scalable so that Channel 5 is not paying considerable sums during periods of low demand."

"The Big Brother website needs to be hosted separately from Channel 5's other online properties to limit the risk of impact on main revenue generating sites such as Demand 5, Channel 5's TV catch-up service," said Martin Saunders, product marketing director at Claranet. "The service is designed to handle 45,000 page impressions per second, so it can deal with the sudden surges of interest that is part and parcel of Big Brother. Factoring in the very unpredictability of the program, the application hosting design gives Channel 5 the ability to scale the service to their needs in real time, and burst into the cloud at times of peak demand, while the resilience of the service is evident in the 100 percent uptime that has been achieved."

Edited by Rich Steeves


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