BAFTA and Web Hosting

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The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is to host its websites on Rackspace’s public cloud, helping the academy to cope with high traffic during its awards while benefiting from the efficiencies afforded by the cloud during less busy times.

BAFTA and Web Hosting



Around a sixth of BAFTA’s traffic occurs around the time of the British Academy Film Awards in February, while there are smaller, but still significant, peaks throughout the year, such as during the television awards in May.
To cope with these surges in demand, BAFTA’s websites have until now been hosted on its own servers, but these offer much more capacity than the not-for profit organisation needed throughout the year.

“The key thing we needed was something that would suit the peak traffic we see throughout the year,” Pippa Irvine, digital communications manager at BAFTA told TechWeekEurope. “We’re lucky because we can pretty much guess when our peaks will be.”

The decision to seek a cloud-based hosting platform was made last year during BAFTA’s brief for the redesign of its website, and was part of a strategy to host all of its sites on the same platform, reducing the number of suppliers it used. A number of awards sites are already hosted on Rackspace and BAFTA’s main site will join them during the summer.

BAFTA chief operating officer Kevin Prince said that Rackspace was chosen because it provided the best value for money as well as its team of specialists, which manually monitored web traffic during its film and game awards to ensure there was no downtime for anyone.

He told TechWeekEurope that as a non-profit organisation, BAFTA has a duty to provide excellent public facing services and value for money. The cost efficiencies resulting from using Rackspace will be used to ensure the smooth running of the organisation and not necessarily reinvested in IT.

“BAFTA brand’s values are all about excellence and as a charity, our audience is the public,” he said. “We do have limited resources as a charity and we recognise that investment in our IT systems is crucial. We invest what we have to invest. As a charity, we hopefully negotiate well to get the very best services at an affordable price.”

Prince’s role as COO is a broad one, covering the operations, finance, staff and buildings – “Everything that makes BAFTA tick” – but he said that IT is taking up an increasing amount of his time.

“So much of our work and systems are IT driven,” he said, referring to the web redesign and internal deployments that have improved its databases, image libraries and video hosting. However he added that its IT investment was primarily aimed to improving interaction with the public, especially at a time when channels were changing.

“Traditionally, most of the general public’s interaction with BAFTA has been through our twice-a-year terrestrial broadcast on BBC One,” he said, noting that ten years ago, these broadcasts might have reached between eight and ten million people.

Today, these reach around five and six million people, but online content such as behind the scenes video is increasing traffic to its websites, while the live stream of the BAFTA game awards was higher than the TV coverage on the Challenge Freeview channel. While the film and TV awards attract different demographics, Prince said it was important to continue to engage with audiences.

“Ultimately [IT improvements] are external because as a charity our ultimate audience is the general public,” he said.

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