375,000 worlds find a new home.

After nearly seven years, the daily challenges of operating and maintaining the Wordpress-based blog convinced Audible, that a better solution is needed. And this is where kreuzwerker came into play.

Audible is the leading producer and seller of digital audiobooks, with roughly 375,000 titles available worldwide. The Amazon-owned Audible service allows consumers to purchase their content from their website, download it and play it back on personal computers or other electronic devices.

The Project

Since 2010, the German-speaking customers of Audible are continuously updated on the latest audiobook releases through the company’s Hörbücher Blog. However, after almost seven years (and hundreds of posts), the day-to-day challenges of operating and maintaining this Wordpress-powered blog convinced Audible to find a better solution. That was when kreuzwerker came to play.

The Problem

Wordpress, one of the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in use today, is well-known for its performance, security, and reliability issues, especially for large and high traffic websites like the Hörbücher Blog. Many of these issues stem from the heavy dependence of Wordpress on its database backend to serve page requests, building every page from various assets each time. While it is certainly true that regular performance improvements and timely security updates can deliver a functional website, system maintenance can soon become the most time and money consuming task for Wordpress administrators. Surely, that was the case for Audible.

Since also the other traditional CMS such as Drupal and Joomla suffer from the same issues described above, together with Audible, we decided to radically redesign their content publishing infrastructure and workflows.

The Solution

The solution developed by kreuzwerker for the Hörbücher Blog is based on two design decisions. The first was to rely on state-of-the-art managed services rather than on a heavy, database-centric CMS to install and maintain. The second decision was to adopt a full static approach for creating, building, and serving web pages in a more lightweight and secure manner. For Audible, the successful integration of cloud-based and static site technologies resulted in a significant reduction of maintenance and operation costs, while guaranteeing the user experience. Additionally, the solution matched the strict security and compliance requirements of Amazon.com, something that was not possible with the previously used Wordpress stack.

Our Contribution

In cooperation with Audible’s engineers, we implemented a cloud-based rendering infrastructure that builds static web pages using contents edited on the Contentful cloud service. The infrastructure generates all the website artefacts (HTML, CSS, JSON, Javascript) out of static configuration files, dynamic configuration data, and contents created as simple Markdown files. More precisely, contents are managed by using the Headless CMS Contentful, automatically composed by a custom developed piece of software, and finally rendered as web pages using the static site generator Hugo.

All infrastructure components, including the software to import contents from the old Wordpress blog, are running on an Amazon-internal AWS (Amazon Web Services) account utilizing fully managed application services.

The Benefit

The new Hörbücher Blog and its underlying infrastructure rely entirely on managed web services, thus avoid unnecessary server-side applications and databases to keep patched, updated, performant and secure. Furthermore, the use of a headless CMS in combination with an automatic static site generator offer much greater flexibility and scalability in the long term.

The Upshot

With the new software architecture and infrastructure design, the Audible blog website will follow modern digital content publishing approaches. Instead of implementing traditional scaling techniques, it uses managed infrastructure components that shift responsibility further down to IaaS and SaaS solutions. This way customers can concentrate on things they know best: content and products.