In the world of business-related media, becoming a household name is an exceptional achievement. For Forbes, it’s the result of over a century of delivering high-quality journalism and content, and a clear focus on establishing consumer trust.
There is, however, much more to Forbes than its industry-standard magazine, rankings, and listings. The global media and information company boasts 140 million engaged digital users globally and is one of the 100 most popular online domains worldwide. It also has a rapidly growing commerce operation.
The bedrock for success at Forbes is its roster of 2,500 journalists and contributors, who publish exciting content in multiple formats throughout the month aimed primarily at helping Forbes readers achieve their own success.
“In 105 years, nothing has really changed in terms of our mission,” says Sameer Patwardhan, SVP of Technology at Forbes. “We have unique trust in our brand and journalism. We want to continue to help people and provide knowledge, resources, connections, and inspiration.”
The CMS acts as the primary server for all content published on the Forbes website, and is a critical component of the reader and subscriber experience. As time passed and technology advanced, however, the CMS did not offer the seamless functionality that contributors needed and expected. In 2019, Forbes realized it had a decision to make.
“All the problems that come with an on-premises solution, such as self-management of the database, were present,” says Patwardhan. ”Someone had to run to a data center to change disks and handle critical basics such as application and data security, compliance, patching, upkeep, and maintenance.”
As well as the CMS falling behind in terms of authorship for contributors, Patwardhan also saw the importance of providing a rich experience and a system where new components could be added quickly and easily. It was clear that a change was due.
“The main thing Forbes is known for is innovation and helping people, but the CMS didn’t reflect or support that,” says Patwardhan. “We wanted a system where we could add new tools, integrations, and capabilities, so we decided on a large-scale overhaul.”
Forbes wanted a managed solution that enabled easy replication and provisioning – critical factors that led to the decision to modernize with MongoDB Atlas in 2019.
“MongoDB stood apart from the competition in providing those features,” Patwardhan explains. “You can tell they are developer-first, and it’s very easy to transfer skills in SQL to MongoDB.”
Forbes turned to MongoDB Professional Services to handle initial queries in terms of optimization and overall performance in the first year of deployment, but developers quickly became conversant in the platform through the MongoDB University program.
“The main advantage of MongoDB was it was very easy to install both locally and in the cloud,” Patwardhan adds. “In addition, the skills gained through MongoDB University helped enormously.”
Sameer Patwardhan, SVP of Technology, Forbes
While the benefits of the new platform extend to multiple stakeholders at Forbes – from backend developers to end users – they all share a common theme: speed. Patwardhan describes the storage auto-scaling capabilities of MongoDB Atlas as a “huge time saver,” with developers gaining key insights through the Atlas dashboard.
“We completely orchestrated our frontend API layer and database – that was a breeze,” adds Patwardhan. “Key deliverables we achieved with MongoDB Atlas were speed of provisioning, maintenance, and disaster-recovery times. The flexible data structures allow faster iterative development and greater innovation than you would get with any other solution.”
However, with pages rendering faster and response times significantly accelerated, the most important outcome for Forbes is a significant improvement in the experience for its readers. For Patwardhan, this is largely a result of the capabilities that MongoDB Atlas provides to its developer team.
“Developers are the core of what we do in providing that unique experience to end users,” says Patwardhan. “We are constantly at the forefront of innovation. Our subscription platform is growing, and our DevOps team is modernizing the platform for even faster delivery. We recently calculated that average build times have been cut from 25 minutes to nine minutes, which is amazing.”
The next steps for Forbes include continuing to build out an impressive roster of apps and tools, and switching from Solr to Atlas Search.
“It makes sense to use a search solution local to the database, and it will help us scale even further in terms of improving overall search performance,” Patwardhan concludes. “I have no doubt that MongoDB Atlas will be a highly important partner as we continue to innovate and develop various initiatives.”
Sameer Patwardhan, SVP of Technology, Forbes