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Session + Live Q&A

BBC Online: Architecting for Scale with the Cloud and Serverless

During the 2020 US Presidential Election, BBC Online served video, audio, and text to over 140 million users. Events like this require the BBC’s sites and apps to be at their very best – fast, reliable, and relevant at massive scale. It’s been achieved with a modern, cloud-native architecture that’s dependable and scalable. In this talk we’ll dive into this architecture, to understand how BBC Online works. We’ll discuss resilience, caching, error handling, cloud costs, and more. And we’ll take a particular look at how the architecture utilises serverless, both to help with scaling, and to speed up development.

Main Takeaways

1 Hear about how the BBC’s website is designed, in a scalable, performant, and resilient way

2 Learn what the architectural solution is, and some of the technologies used

Why architecture about the BBC?

The BBC has a wide range of websites and apps. Some of these are especially big in the UK, given the British focus, and some also massive worldwide. BBC News, for example, is probably the world's largest news site. Well over 100 million people visit every week to get news coverage around the world. The architecture we've made to do that, the breadth of content it has, is what we'll be talking about.

The title is "BBC Online Architecting for Scale with the Cloud and Serverless." What are the technologies you're going to be going over?

We're talking web and app. So you've got the rendering of the websites, you've got the APIs that power underneath. Much of this is using serverless technology - we’ll look at how and why. You've also got the video distribution, and multiple underlying data stores. And of course, you've got the tools. It's not a surprising architecture, but there are things that make it scale, like the levels of caching we do, the resilience we do to make sure we are always there in the big moments is what makes it perhaps different from your average site.

Is this talk focused on methodologies or the technologies that you're using?

It's focused on the approaches you take to make sure you're reliable and scalable. And we'll look at some of the specific technologies, how caching happens, for example, and how we use serverless not just to make life easier, but that is good value and a great way to scale as well.

What are some of the key takeaways?

It will include general principles around how you can make sites scalable, reliable, affordable, and also some of the specifics on the technologies we use for caching, how we use serverless, how that makes practical sense. And there'll be other things like cloud costs that we'll look at as well.

Can you give me an example of one of the lessons around reliability or scalability that you're going to talk about?

We'll be looking at caching, for example, the use of Redis and CDNs, having multiple layers of those, which also helps with your availability as well. Other areas will be handling failure, in combination with the best use of cloud practices, to make sure you've got a site that you can rely on when crowds turn up out of nowhere. Which with a site like BBC News, can happen any time!

What's the core persona that you're going to be targeting?

It should be useful for all, and especially for technical architects and lead developers who are interested in design at scale.


Matthew Clark

Head Of Architecture for the @BBC's Digital Products

Matthew Clark is Head of Architecture for many of the BBC’s online products. He’s been at the BBC for over 10 years, and has been involved in multiple projects such as covering the London 2012 Olympics, and getting BBC iPlayer working on the International Space Station. His passion is...

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Tuesday May 18 / 10:00AM EDT (40 minutes)


Architectures You've Always Wondered About


ArchitectureCloud ComputingScalabilityServerless

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