Oxford University Press Translates the Internet With Docker and Docker Compose


Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world, and is the second oldest press in the world. It’s mainly an educational and dictionary publisher. The team is made up of over 6,000 employees.


Oxford University Press has been working on a project called “Oxford Global Languages.” The project is aimed at helping to digitize underrepresented languages. There are several languages that haven’t made it to the internet yet, either because of resources being unavailable or because they are not in digital format. Languages like Zulu, Northern SU, Malay etc. which are spoken by millions of people, are not being represented online. This is a massive project that the team is investing in in the next 10 years as part of their mission as an educational publisher, to make these languages available. The first major challenge they experienced was around migration. They knew they were going to scale up to lots of languages and provide websites for them, but they didn’t know how many. However, they knew they needed a technology that could allow them to migrate very easily to more powerful servers and to the cloud as well.


The technology piece of this massive project is all powered by Docker. Docker immediately gives Oxford University Press the portability and flexibility they need for their ongoing project. They can now face the unknown by using a completely portable technology. Today, the team use Docker Compose, and are using about 15 containers today. Some of these need to be linked, and need to be started in a particular sequence. Docker Compose allows them to orchestrate their different containers without losing the connection between the containers themselves when they need to be restarted. One of their main focuses is to automate as much as possible. They are really excited about the pluggability of the Docker platform, with its ability to play well with other tools in the ecosystem. They typically use Jenkins as their continuous integration technology and use GitHub for the content management. Docker also allows them to have all of their configurations under version control, allowing them to be easily replicated. Going forward they are experimenting with scaling up with Docker. They are running Docker in production on two of their website for two of their African languages. And in the next few years they need to provide language resources for tens of different languages. To them, it’s really the scaling that will be particularly important, and how they can also use Docker in a cloud environment. .

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  • "We need to provide language resources for tens of different languages. So it’s really the scaling that is particularly important to us. And how we can also use Docker in a cloud environment. This is also a hot topic for us, because we just moved to the cloud, and we want to make the most of Docker and the cloud together."– Sandro Cirulli, Platform Tech Lead, Oxford University Press