The Washington Post Runs Production Apps in Docker

Background

Founded in 1877, The Washington Post (The Post) is an award-winning news organization producing high-quality journalism powered by cutting-edge technology. The Post is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has offices located all around the world reaching over 64 million unique readers.


Challenges

As a globally recognized news organization, The Post wants to grow their national and international audience and provide an innovative reader experience. In order to do so, the team needs to be able to innovate and rapidly iterate their existing applications. Iterating their large number of applications that are written in multiple languages including Java, Scala, Node, Python, and Go was one of the biggest challenges that The Post needed to address. They decided that a continuous deployment system that worked for their AWS based environment and that could support multiple programming languages and many different applications would be the answer. The big question was how. This would require a standardized unit of deployment that would allow them to unify their tools around their application development pipeline.


Solution

The Post leverages Docker Engine and Docker Compose in production. Today the company uses the Docker Engine and Compose as their common runtime configuration for their cluster management systems as it provides a faster and simpler way for their developers to describe how they want to run their application on a cluster. The company has over 2,500 Docker containers in their environment. This gives them something that is crucial in the new industry, speed. Currently all of their production workloads run on Docker. Docker powers two of their key technologies. The first is their entire digital experience for Washington Post readers. This includes the website, the personalization services for news, the mobile app, and the mobile web experience. Secondly, they are leveraging Docker to power what they call their Arc Publishing solution. Arc is a cutting-edge digital publishing platform that meets the needs of modern Publishers. The Post now uses Arc as an additional stream of income, selling the tool to other publishing companies. Additionally, their entire news analytics system is built on this Dockerized platform. This platform was also used to build one application called “PoliceShootings” that they used to collect data on police shootings. The article series called “Fatal Force” that leveraged this data is now an award-winning article series.


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  • "The two Docker tools we leverage the most are Docker Engine and Docker Compose. We particularly like Docker Compose. We've gravitated towards using it as our common runtime configuration for our cluster management systems because it's a very easy way for developers to describe how they want to run their application on a cluster."

    Patrick Cullen Principal Technical Architect at The Washington Post