While in many countries book metadata is spread across multiple players and varying structures, Norway is better positioned thanks to industry-owned Bokbasen, whose business has been running for over ten years. The company builds and maintains the Den norskeBokbasen catalogue containing data about all Norwegian publishers. With one central register, the industry can concentrate on making use of the data – in online stores, bookshops, libraries and schools – instead of gathering it, as is the focus in many other countries.
When e-books came onto the market, Bokbasen built the infrastructure for this, including a streaming service for audiobooks. AWS partner Basefarm has been managing operations for Bokbasen in its private cloud since 2012.
On the wishlist: Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and Containers
When it set out on its mission to digitalise books and learning materials, Bokbasen began with the Digitalelev project for procuring and managing digital learning materials in schools, and the Allvit platform for textbooks in higher education.
The challenge was overcoming the hurdle of an IT department with just five employees. The solution was the flexibility offered by public cloud services. Utilising Infrastructure as Code technology, Bokbasen was able to move away from the overheard of managing traditional server infrastructure, to instead operate a highly automated serverless environment, with the capability to scale on-demand almost instantly.
Around the same time, Bokbasen’s development team decided to adopt a container based architecture, after a successful proof of concept.
A key challenge of managing the migration to and operation of IaC and PaaS services, was the burden it could place on internal resources. Reducing the ongoing burden upon the small team of internal resources was a priority, since the business required the team to maintain its flexibility and ability to respond to emerging requirements.
Why Amazon Web Services and Basefarm?
Bokbasen went to the market openly looking for suppliers, as it needed to find an operational partner for the new solutions. One of those responding to the tender process was Bokbasen’s existing Managed Service Provider, Basefarm. Rather than offering a solution based entirely on its own Cloud Platform, Basefarm proposed a cloud native solution, based on Amazon Web Services, having fully embraced the transition from traditional hosting to a Managing Service Provider of Public Cloud Services, as part of its strategic vision. The pan-European company, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, was purchased in 2018 and is now part of the Orange group.
-We went into the market to find someone who could provide us with “native cloud” solutions with fresh minds. Of course, we also invited our existing partner Basefarm to the competition, says Ketil Stadskleiv, CTO at Bokbasen
– It turned out that Basefarm had fully established a culture for these new operating models and won the competition. That we were historically satisfied with Basefarm’s deliveries and still be able to relate to one supplier was a bonus.
Basefarm was selected by Bokbasen as the winning bidder, with the combination of its operating model, price and the opportunity to have a single supplier to operate both public and private cloud becoming the decisive factors.
Bokbasen selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) in particular, due to the scope of the available PaaS services and existing expertise within Bokbasen. Amazon API Gateway and AWS Fargate became the main components of the stack, together with Amazon Cognito for authentication. AWS Fargate reduces the operational complexity of containerisation by eliminating the need to manage clusters of container hosts. The end to end solution is a Hybrid deployment, including integration with services in the customers managed private Cloud, also hosted by Basefarm.
Platform as a Service
PaaS Services on AWS are easy to maintain and service, with a good total cost of ownership. The Amazon API gateway simplifies integration with a wide range of partners, customers and other professional users. Amazon Aurora Database Administration (DBA) reduces the number of basic burdensome database issues. Amazon Aurora offers auto-scalable storage across data centres out of the box. AWS Batch orchestrates batch jobs and gives status updates. For Bokbasen, having Basefarm’s database specialists behind them has also been crucial.
Infrastructure as Code
Plenty of great IaC modules from the Terraform community and Basefarm have simplified the transition to both IaaS and PaaS. The use of IaC ensures a consistent and repeatable method of deploying and managing infrastructure within the environment.
Microservices and Container management
Bokbasen wanted to use microservices and containers to become more agile and together with Basefarm, utilise DevOps Pipelines to seamlessly automate the process of releasing updates and new functionality.
Transition and 24/7 Operations
During the transition process, Basefarm consultants worked on-site at Bokbasen. In operation Basefarm supplements the AWS services with a Platform Operations service, providing monitoring and 24/7/365 support, as well as a number of other services. Basefarmmakes all infrastructure changes using Infrastructure as Code, with the ability to deploy and rollback changes almost immediately.
Product Manager Svein Johansen
– We have the expertise to combine the values of traditional services with the new world. At the same time, we have mission-critical IT operations in the spine including support with Norwegian employees around the clock, year-round.
– Companies that switch to the cloud on their own also find that they themselves are left with operational tasks again, for example in a DevOps environment. It is rarely the intention and for Bokbasen we handle the “ops” part of this, says Svein Johansen, Product Manager at Basefarm.
AWS Operation for the future
The goal for Bokbasen was to deploy and manage a Serverless infrastructure using Infrastructure as Code. Bokbasen has done this successfully in AWS through a strong combination of AWS Fargate, AWS Application Load Balancer, Amazon Cognito, Amazon Aurora and AWS Lambda.
Basefarm’s Guided Operations and Platform Operations services, have assisted Bokbasen’s transition to AWS and supports the day to day operation of the platform, enabling Bokbasen to embrace and extend upon the engine of innovation that the AWS Cloud provides. The use of AWS Serverless technology allows Bokbasen to scale almost limitlessly, at a fraction of the cost of alternative solutions. The engagement with Basefarm has provided a sound footing for Bokbasen to undertake further migration activity towards AWS.
Bokbasen provides a wide range of services to all parts of Norway’s literature. Our products are based on the Norwegian Book Database – the most up-to-date directory of all book releases in Norway – and create infrastructure for new digital solutions in publishing houses, book stores, libraries and schools.
Bokbasen was established in 2007 to maintain and further develop the Norwegian Book Database. Metadata production on Norwegian book and film releases is still at the core of our business and is carried out by our librarians with special expertise in cataloging and classification.
Bokbasen is the hub of the distribution of Norwegian e-books and e-audio books. Our digital distribution services are used by publishers, online bookshops and libraries to offer e-books and e-audio books to customers and patrons. We also offer a marketing and administration platform for licensing between publishers and libraries.
Bokbasen is owned by the largest players in the Norwegian book market and aims to provide streamlined common infrastructure solutions. The book base services will facilitate innovation and diversity by creating flexible infrastructure at low cost for all customers.
Amazon Web Services with Basefarm
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