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MLS: Saving Money, Enhancing Fans’ Digital Experiences

Carlos Ruiz, Account Director
#Content Management | Posted

The digital division of Major League Soccer maintains multiple sites and applications delivering information, news, videos, and stats to eager soccer fans. MLS Digital understands that a sports fan’s digital experience is paramount for successful promotion and brand loyalty.

Last year, Phase2 worked with MLS to improve fans’ digital experience by migrating all 20 club sites (plus the league site) onto a single, high-performance Drupal platform. I caught up with Brian Aznar, Director of Engineering at MLS, to discuss the project and what’s next for MLS Digital.

What does the MLS Digital team do?

Our team is responsible for the implementation and maintenance of all the MLS digital platform: web, mobile, and connected TV platforms. One way you can look at it is, our products are about enhancing the fan experience – our products are for our fans.

What was the goal when you began working with Phase2?

Well, we’ve worked with Phase2 for several years, but on this particular initiative, our goal was to modernize and stabilize the MLS web platform, both back-end and front-end. We wanted to migrate 25 individually-maintained club sites onto a new Drupal 7 platform. We also developed a new performance strategy to ensure that the millions of MLS soccer fans can seamlessly access news and stats without interruption. This was achieved by switching to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for hosting.

Slide about Phase2 and MLS partnership

 

How did AWS impact the MLS platform’s performance?

Going with a cloud provider like AWS allows us to automatically scale based on immediate traffic needs. This is important for MLS because our traffic is spiky around events and big games. AWS automatically handles these spikes, ultimately saving us a lot of money.

To learn more about auto-scaling and the many ways it benefited MLS, check out the talk Brian gave at DrupalCon:


What other benefits did you gain from the platform?

To sum it up succinctly, our new platform provides a more modern UI experience, greater editorial flexibility, better performance through AWS, and far less tech complexity.

When I say tech complexity, I mean that we evaluated and then consolidated our technologies, reducing duplications. Before, we might have had two technologies that did monitoring, but now we only have one. This – you guessed it – saves us a lot of money over the long-term, but it also makes our digital team’s lives a lot easier.

What are MLS Digital’s plans for the future?

Our long term strategy involves implementing omni-channel – that’s the big picture. But the first step is making gradual adjustments toward the proper content model. Your content model is like your foundation; you need to make sure the content model and the content itself are defined in a robust way.

What did Phase2 bring to the table as a technology partner?

Phase2’s DevOps capabilities made them a great partner for this project, as well as their Drupal expertise. Phase2 is a partner that can help us navigate immediate and long-term feature sets and requests.

To learn more about how MLS developed its long-term digital strategy, as well as best practices for executing auto-scaling, watch Brian’s DrupalCon talk, Score! Superior Digital Experiences with MLS.

Carlos Ruiz

Account Director