NY Times Crossword Moves From AWS To Google Cloud

Crossed off. It’s not every day do you hear about companies moving away from AWS, but NY Times has just moved its insanely popular crossword puzzle over to the Google Cloud Platform.

Apparently, the crossword puzzle put a lot of strain on the cloud architecture.

The New York Times crossword was first introduced in print in 1942, but has since grown into a suite of mobile apps and an interactive website. With more than 300,000 paid subscribers, it has outgrown its infrastructure hosted in the Amazon cloud.

As this post by the principal software engineer at NY Times details, the backend system of the New York Times Crossword were running on Amazon Web Services with a LAMP like architecture. But when they introduced the free daily mini crossword three years ago, the large audience put in a lot of strain.

They soon struggled with scaling limitations:

“As the crossword grew in popularity, our architecture started to hit its scaling limitations for handling game traffic. Due to the inelastic architecture of our AWS system, we needed to have the systems scaled up to handle our peak traffic at 10PM when the daily puzzle is published. The system is generally at that peak traffic for only a few minutes a day, so this setup was very costly for the New York Times Games team. Luckily, we at The Times recently decided to move all product development to the Google Cloud Platform where a variety of tools awaited to help us move faster and save money.”

They ultimately settled on Google:

“After shopping the Google product suite, we decided to rebuild our systems using Go, Google App Engine, Datastore, BigQuery, PubSub and Container Engine. I’ll discuss the architecture in greater detail in future posts but for now, I’m going to concentrate on App Engine, which is the core of our system.”

Admittedly, while the blog post reads very much like an advertisement for the Google cloud platform, it does go into a lot of the technical details and factors that a company has to take into account before it decides to migrate from one cloud to another.

Give it a read at the link above.