NewspaperARCHIVE: A Case of Broken News

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BEST PRACTICES SERIES

THE OUTCOME
Since migrating to Exalead's CloudView, Fiscus and NewspaperARCHIVE have witnessed a number of improvements. For instance, some unexplained issues that the service had been experiencing were suddenly gone. "We always had this sort of ghost in our website," says Fiscus. "We weren't quite sure what was going on ... but the week after we released [with Exalead], we quickly noticed that all of our long request times and unfulfilled requests that were showing up in the logs before were no longer there."

Because CloudView uses system resources more efficiently than NewspaperARCHIVE's previous solution, Fiscus was also able to make better use of NewspaperARCHIVE's servers. "Before, because of the amount of servers we were running, I could only afford one search node," he says. "Now I have three."

There were also several improvements in the day-to-day administration of NewspaperARCHIVE's databases. "One is how easy it is to update my metadata," says Fiscus. NewspaperARCHIVE uses more than a dozen different metadata fields that correspond to the subject, content, location, and date of stories, as well as specific publisher agreements. While the old platform required custom coding to manage this content, Fiscus says that Exalead made the process much simpler.

"I had to turn off content because our relationship with the publisher was no longer in existence," says Fiscus. "With the other search engine, I had to write custom code. ... It actually made the search results less relevant as well. With Exalead, you can simply flag it for deletion, and you can either leave it in there or tell it to purge it later. We'd be in a legal bind if we put it out there."

According to Fiscus, it took about 100 days from signing a contract with Exalead to being able to take the old search engine offline and replace it with CloudView. There was also a last-second crisis that was averted thanks to a quick response from Exalead.

"We go to turn it on at 6 in the morning, and it wasn't returning results," says Fiscus. To make matters worse, that particular morning just so happened to be 2 days before Christmas-the day the new search engine was set to debut. According to Fiscus, Exalead put people from both sides of the Atlantic on the case, and after 13 hours of work, the engine was back up and running.

Although Fiscus notes that there have been some minor issues with custom database connectors, overall, he is very pleased with Exalead and has twice served as a reference for the company. "They have very professional and responsive search engineers that they assign to people," he says. "Sometimes they get a little overtaxed, but I suppose that's a good problem."

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