RISC Networks + Turner Broadcasting Case Study

RISC Networks + Turner Broadcasting Case Study


The Challenge

Turner Broadcasting System was looking to focus on their core business, not on maintaining their on-premises IT infrastructure. As a result, Turner saw moving to the public cloud as the way forward. Though the on-premises model worked for the company in the past, it would not continue to work well as Turner shifted to support the digital distribution and consumption of content over the next few years. The company realized that by changing the way they do business, they needed to also change how they thought about IT operations and processes. “One of the things we changed our philosophy on was that it wasn’t imperative for Turner to be in the data center business to be a successful company,” said Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture for Turner Broadcasting System. Turner was looking to break the organizational barriers that existed in their on-premises environment to support the new business model they were chasing. As they began planning for the changes the company was undergoing, Turner realized they did not have any metrics on their internal systems. Migrating to the cloud was deemed a necessary strategic task and to do this successfully required detailed knowledge of how their on-premises environment operated.


For Turner, choosing Amazon Web Services (AWS) was an easy choice. Turner was aware of other organizations that had completed similar migrations to AWS, so they wanted to learn about the migration process from the bridge those organizations had crossed. Although they had considered other cloud providers, Turner did not feel that the other options had the depth and scale that AWS had to offer. Moving to AWS would allow Turner to gain business agility while reducing the man-hours and costs they had been incurring by running on-premises data centers. Additionally, Turner was looking for a flexible and scalable environment that would grow along with their business.


Once Turner came to the conclusion that AWS would be the right decision, they set out to formulate a migration plan. The planning process proved to be difficult, as the organization was unsure of what their current infrastructure looked like, and how it worked. Turner spent the next three months trying to develop a migration plan, for an infrastructure they knew very little about.

After bringing up their challenge with AWS, RISC Networks was recommended to help the organization gain a better understanding of their IT environment. Turner quickly realized the benefits of RISC and saw that they were critical for creating an actionable plan for migrating to AWS. Without knowing what was in their infrastructure, Turner would not have been able to execute the migration process as quickly as they had.

“When I walked in the door, the very first question I asked was: How much money do we spend on our data centers? And there was no answer for that question. So then the second question I asked was: how many servers do we have in our data center? And there was no answer for that…we spent the next three months spinning our wheels to formulate a plan on top of an unknown footprint.” – Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture, Turner Broadcasting System

The Process

Upon completion of the application scan, Turner utilized RISC to validate the dependencies between the applications. With this information, Turner created two buckets of resources to move: cloud ready and not cloud ready, including departments within each bucket. The cloud ready resources were the applications and databases that did not have a lot of interconnections or dependencies with other system processes. Once sorted, they were able to formulate a migration plan that started with moving the easier to lift, cloud ready resources first. The team then worked to create proof-of-concept migrations along with the cost analysis for the next 3 to5years post-migration. After seeing the cost of operating on AWS versus maintaining the current on-premises infrastructure, Turner moved ahead with pilot-mode migrations for cloud ready applications they chose from various departments. The pilot proved to be a success and Turner’s IT team was given the green light to begin the actual migration process. The entire process only took a few months, beginning with the initial scan in February 2016 to the actual migrations in July of the same year.

“Prior to bringing RISC in…we had no idea. When we got done doing the scan…I knew how many servers we had, I knew where they were, I knew what they talked to, I knew at what capacity they were running, I knew what they would be when they go to AWS.” – Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture, Turner Broadcasting System

Benefits of RISC Networks

Turner realized the benefits of RISC immediately after the initial scan was completed. The scan had revealed almost 1,000 servers that Turner was running but was not actually using. In one instance, one bucket had 114 active servers that weren’t being utilized at all, so Turner shut them down within ten minutes of completing the scan. RISC enabled Turner to analyze their sub-divisions and breakdown the entire migration into smaller parts. Overall, Turner went from knowing almost nothing about their infrastructure, to knowing everything.

Next Steps

Turner has already started the migration process for their cloud ready resources and will continue to do so through the first quarter of 2017. Currently, the owners of applications are responsible for migrating their own resources to AWS. As the company reaches the second quarter, they will begin migrating legacy servers and those that have multiple dependencies.

About Turner Broadcasting

Turner Broadcasting System, a global media company and a division of Time Warner, owns and operates various cable television networks including CNN, TBS, HLN, TNT, TruTV, and Bleacher Report. Turner Broadcasting was founded in 1970 and eventually merged with Time Warner in 1996 to operate as a semi-independent section of Time Warner. Over the next few years, Turner is shifting their core business to support the digital distribution of content to viewers.

About AWS

For 10 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. AWS offers over 90 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, analytics, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprise applications from 42 Availability Zones (AZs) across 16 geographic regions in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and the UK. AWS services are trusted by millions of active customers around the world monthly — including the fastest growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies — to power their infrastructure, make them more agile, and lower costs. To learn more about AWS, visit https://aws.amazon.com.

About RISC Networks

RISC Networks’ vision is to unlock business potential by delivering more meaningful data analysis, information that helps guide IT leaders in solving their problems and software solutions that help IT teams prepare for change and to take immediate action. RISC Networks is the industry’s leader in cloud, data center and network operations analytics with more than 6,500 analytics engagements and over 80 industry leading partners. RISC Networks is a privately held company that was founded in 2007. The Company is headquartered in Asheville, NC.