How we turned an historical Italian news outlet Cloud Native
Il Giornale Web


Il Giornale is a historic Italian newspaper with a consistent and popular online presence, which provides for the publication of content dedicated to web users and access to digital versions of the paper newspaper. In addition to the contents of the main publication, thematic blogs are regularly updated.


Support the internal development team in Cloud management and the evolution of the CMS platform from a Cloud Native perspective


For some time Il Giornale On Line srl, the company that manages, has chosen the Cloud to manage the galaxy of its digital contents, because serving several million pages and users every day requires a flexible infrastructure ready to deal with traffic peaks, and a highly reliable service that allows editorial staff to publish updates at the frenetic pace of change that we are living. The architecture is developed on a multi-cloud which coordinates services from different providers based on specific production and delivery needs.

Starting from 2019, has chosen SparkFabrik to provide support in managing its cloud and to better carry out the evolution of the CMS platform from a Cloud Native perspective which publishes content online of the publisher.

The first critical element is given by the fact that it involved taking charge of a system designed by others, based on a proprietary, therefore non-transferable, provisioning mechanism. Handovers are always delicate moments in the life of applications and complex infrastructures, due to the inevitable communication glitches deriving from the presence of implicit knowledge that is difficult to bring out.

Once the handover was completed, we faced the first urgent architectural problems to be solved: the reliability of the solution due to single point of failure of the architecture and recurring business continuity problems of the services offered to the editorial staff. Finally, architecture mapping revealed the heterogeneity of the solutions adopted, consisting of both AWS native products, and custom elements for networking and storage, always integrated into the cloud perimeter AWS.

From the point of view of software management, we found versioning policies of the code base and deployment strategies that can be reviewed and optimized, and analyzing the existing situation we found that it would have been possible to increase productivity and at the same time minimize the risks due to manual activities.


From assessment to creating a backlog

Once the handover was completed, we took care of creating a new updated map of the entire infrastructure and services in use, also based on real data extrapolated from the AWS APIs.

As a next step, we carried out an assessment of the CMS application which manages the publication of the main digital property: the website

For the application layer, we evaluated both the architecture with which it was implemented in the AWS cloud, and its intrinsic characteristics, taking advantage of our long experience with Drupal. Even the ‘satellite’ properties were mapped and evaluated, especially in relation to the update status of the software used and the ability to access for administrative tasks. Finally, surveys were made on the traffic generated, both in the AWS cloud and at the external CDN service, and on the operating costs of the platform.

The result of the infrastructural and application assessment was the starting material for a discussion with the staff of, with which we defined a first action plan and targeted interventions.

We have adopted our standard processes for project management for which we have transferred the code to our integrated platform which allows you to manage, in addition to code versioning, activity tracking and automation of continuous integration and release tasks.



The first step was to equip the customer with effective development tools and delivery processes as automated as possible:

  • We did the code and infrastructure set-up for the development, with the import of the previous versioning and the creation of a container-based build process that rebuilds the application environment to be used locally by the developers
  • We then configured the Continuous Integration pipeline in a staging area to integrate the latest changes. Two iterations of automation and Continuous Delivery experiments were also performed, built on the basis of the needs of the development team and the times dictated by the work editorial.


We immediately tackled the structural problems:

  • We balanced the traffic on different Availability Zones on the AWS cloud and effectively solved the single point of failure problem
  • We replaced the obsolete provisioner by introducing state-of-the-art tools like Terraform and Packer
  • We have rationalized the infrastructure with a view to optimizing costs and maintainability, mitigating inter-AZ traffic which constitutes a significant part of the traffic


We went through a long process of optimization, tackling the main problems with excellent results:

  • Within this path we have also followed the indications of the business, developing and extending the functions of the CMS, enriching the contents with functionalities and metadata, strengthening the relationships between the various content-types, and also introducing flows for the management and monitoring of production costs from an editorial point of view.
  • We have improved application administration processes, introducing automation tools that allow you to schedule and schedule maintenance tasks without interfering with editorial work.
  • We analyzed resource consumption and application behavior using AWS CloudWatch
  • Together with the Giornale On Line team, we have collaborated to extend and enhance the API layer of the CMS which project the system towards future integrations and already allow streamlining content management and multi-channel supervision.
  • We have addressed the security problems by carrying out a general update of the frameworks used and refactoring the custom code developed
  • With the monitoring data we were able to intervene by optimizing the EC2 instances that provide the
  • core
  • services, in doing so we improved the autoscaling configurations and significantly reduced operating costs.


We responded to marketing's need to be able to have personalized dashboards of data generated in real time from its assets for marketing purposes that can be consulted from a single point.

In this case, the challenge was to efficiently manage a huge data flow generated by Google Analytics and application logs.

We therefore decided to adopt a multi-cloud strategy which involved data, functions and services provided by AWS and other providers, with the aim of creating a customer-customizable viewing dashboard.

Continuous improvement

A complex architecture requires a constant effort to improve, for this reason activities that proactively address potential risks and which aim to achieve an optimal balance of costs, performance and reliability and keep pace with market innovations.

A comprehensive modernization and optimization plan is therefore underway:

  • Further extension of the CMS application API (Drupal) creating an application layer that is easier to manage and evolve
  • Optimizing CDN infrastructure
  • New architecture review to eliminate obsolete services and optimize the efficiency (also in costs) and security of the cloud implementation thanks to the guidelines of the ‘AWS Well-Architected Framework’
  • Progressive implementation of container-based structure and orchestration


After about a year of activity and collaboration with the staff, the improvements achieved in the customer’s multi-cloud environment can be listed.

  • The Continuous Integration allows you to better and promptly check the stability of the applications
  • File storage implementations have been streamlined, resulting in improved performance and reduced costs
  • The costs for traffic within the infrastructure have been brought under control
  • The declarative configurations for infrastructure and AMI make it possible to reduce Disaster Recovery times, increasing the reliability of the architecture from an SRE perspective
  • Major security issues have been identified and resolved
  • The access statistics of the publisher's digital properties are now under control in a dashboard that allows you to analyze them and plan activities
  • The CMS application has evolved to allow you to modify the front-end and make the user experience more functional and modern
  • The costs have been reduced for the instances that guarantee the drafting and publication of the newspaper's contents
  • The multi-zone setup on the AWS cloud has been corrected and now provides the required scalability and resiliency
Simone Procopio

Simone Procopio


The partnership that binds us to SparkFabrik is based on shared values ​​such as passion, professionalism and transparency. Doing business to grow together, improve each other and stimulate change is what we do every day, one step ahead of the other, thanks to the wonderful team at SparkFabrik.

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