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Arc XP Deploys MongoDB Atlas to Free Up Developers and Boost Productivity by 70%

MongoDB Atlas takes Arc XP, a Washington Post Company, to new levels of digital engagement and platform flexibility.

INDUSTRY

Software/Services

PRODUCTS

MongoDB Atlas
Professional Services
Vector Search

USE CASE

Content Management
Business Agility

CUSTOMER SINCE

2016
INTRODUCTION

An experienced player in an increasingly dynamic sector

The dynamic environment of 24-hour global news requires continuous publishing of media content by high volume digital storytelling teams. As this ever-evolving and highly competitive market continues to grow, many established media organizations have realized that they need to reassess their operations or risk being sidelined. It was a challenge that The Washington Post decided to tackle head-on – and in doing so, built a solution that not only met its own needs but was also highly valuable and marketable to a diverse audience of digital publishers.

Arc XP is a cloud-native software-as-a-service (SaaS) CMS and digital experience platform developed as a tool to create and distribute content, monetize websites and drive ecommerce, and deliver powerful multichannel experiences. Originally conceived as an internal solution at The Washington Post in 2015, it has since built an impressive external client base across industries ranging from oil and gas to sports and entertainment.

“The secret sauce of Arc XP is a combination of expertise from the roots at The Washington Post coupled with incredible technology choices,” explains Joe Croney, Vice President of Technology and Product Development at Arc XP. “We were really a pioneer in developing a cloud-native CMS platform built on microservices in cooperation with AWS.”

THE CHALLENGE

A new platform for industry-leading storytelling

In 2013, The Washington Post recognized that successfully achieving digital transformation would require a modern set of SaaS-based tools designed to facilitate high-volume content creation. Nothing on the open market met its specific needs, so internal developers and engineers created Arc XP from the ground up. Developing a platform with the breadth of services that Arc XP needed to be successful however required multiple different technologies for each use case.

“Arc XP has several components. It starts with an agile CMS for content creation and organization, and extends from there to a flexible digital experience platform that offers a no-code solution to create great web and mobile experiences,” says Croney. “Finally, we have a set of integration and monetization tools to help with subscriptions and advertising revenue for our clients.”

For Croney, the essential requirement for Arc XP was to extend The Washington Post’s capability and capacity to create industry-leading content and storytelling. It also needed a solution that would be able to handle heavy demand in terms of reliability and security without compromising scalability, responsiveness, or service uptime.

“If you think about a story, it's composed of documents such as text, images, video, and metadata,” notes Croney. “We needed a document database partner that knew how to operate at scale, take care of security and encryption, and grow with our business.”

THE SOLUTION

Innovation and experimentation

Arc XP initially turned to MongoDB Enterprise Advanced, which gave its developers the operational visibility and flexibility to innovate and build Arc XP as it had originally been mapped out, but also to add new capabilities along the way.

“When we turned to MongoDB we were expecting high availability and performance,” says Croney. “We were also looking for the ability to try out new features, see how they met customer needs, and then evolve them in an agile environment. One key thing MongoDB’s versatility allowed us to do was experiment.”

It was a highly successful integration that quickly saw Arc XP’s user base expand from The Washington Post staff to an expanding roster of external clients. And while this represented a resounding win for Arc XP, it gave the Arc XP team some important decisions to make.

As Arc XP grew, the needs of its database evolved. “We found, as we went through explosive growth, we were storing more and more content in MongoDB and serving more and more customers with the platform,” says Croney. “That meant our engineers were spending more time managing the application and the database instances to ensure uptime and perform upgrades. We needed to come up with a strategy that enabled us to keep pace with our growth while maintaining pace of feature development.”

“As we went through explosive growth…we needed to come up with a strategy that enabled us to keep pace with our growth while maintaining pace of feature development. That's why we chose to go to MongoDB Atlas.”

Joe Croney, Vice President of Technology and Product Development, Arc XP

Croney continues: “More broadly, the company was looking at how it could harness the benefits of cloud computing and consuming software as a service, so our engineers could focus on applications rather than back-end operations. That's why we chose to go to MongoDB Atlas, where we could consume those as a service from MongoDB as opposed to managing them ourselves. That's been a huge success for my team, where we're able to get a lot of the time back so engineers could focus on forward feature development and the product roadmap.”
THE RESULTS

Delivering value with an effective partner

With MongoDB and AWS handling the database infrastructure, developers at Arc XP were freed up to spend valuable time on what they do best. For Croney, this was a significant step forward for both his team and the future of Arc XP. It also had a positive effect on Arc XP’s external customers, where Croney sees a typical 70% improvement in developer productivity.

“Supporting developers’ needs and empowering them with cutting edge tools is core to what Arc XP is about. With our platform as a service, they're not losing time worrying about glue code or delivery configuration and instead can focus on building features that site visitors will appreciate,” he says. That same productivity is essential for Arc XP’s own Engineering teams and Croney shared that “MongoDB has enabled us to innovate, whether it's full text search capabilities within Atlas, document storage, or having the APIs available to my development team, and our ability to spin up in any geography with AWS makes deploying in new markets a snap.”

“MongoDB has enabled us to innovate, whether it's full text search capabilities within Atlas, document storage, or having the APIs available to my development team, and our ability to spin up in any geography with AWS makes deploying in new markets a snap.”

Joe Croney, Vice President of Technology and Product Development, Arc XP

Arc XP now uses roughly 63 clusters and over 50,000 MongoDB collections, enabling it to power nearly 2,000 sites in 27 countries and handle a total of 4.5 billion articles accessed by two billion unique users each month. And such is the flexibility of Arc XP that users now extend far beyond the pure media industry, reaching e-commerce operators and retailers.

“Part of a great ecommerce site today is telling the story around your products,” Croney adds. “When you access any site that runs on Arc XP today, that story originates and is stored in a MongoDB database. MongoDB Atlas is a comprehensive and powerful developer data platform with different technologies for different use cases, and we use a lot of them. These include core content storage and retrieval, Atlas CLI, and full text search that we use to enable customers to access content quickly.”

It all adds up to an exciting future for Arc XP, and Croney particularly values the time he spends with the MongoDB team to see what other opportunities are available. “Things like App Services, which will allow us to move workloads onto MongoDB that might otherwise sit elsewhere, definitely have potential for us,” he says. Arc XP is also using Atlas to help deliver the next wave of AI-powered services to their customers: “One of the most exciting developments, however, is Vector Search, which can complement our services and use of MongoDB to meet customers' demands for AI-centric services. We’re exploring how Vector Search can connect the vibrant content we store within Atlas with generative AI models. The goal is to offer capabilities in Arc XP that amplify what content producers can do with our toolset to plan, refine, promote, tag, and distribute content at scale.”

Ultimately, it’s the potential to innovate that Croney sees as most important about MongoDB Atlas, from search services to document storage and having high-value APIs available to Arc XP’s development team.

“Enabling developers to build more value for customers is ultimately what we're here to do, and that’s why MongoDB has been so effective as a partner,” he concludes. “The story of Arc XP is one of hypergrowth, and MongoDB Atlas has been fantastic in enabling our business transformation. We love the relationship we have with the Professional Services team, with our account managers, and the technical advice we get to make the most of the MongoDB platform.”

“Enabling developers to build more value for customers is ultimately what we're here to do, and that’s why MongoDB has been so effective as a partner.”

Joe Croney, Vice President of Technology and Product Development, Arc XP

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