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Breaking News and Server Gridlock

MediaNews Group' sluggish Web site was turning off readers and advertisers. The culprit? A content-management application.

By the end of this year, MediaNews will take it a step further and begin revamping its Web site--which today contains mostly static content--to a dynamic portal. MediaNews has invested about $2 million in the new portal architecture, which lets each publication on the site manage and change its own content and presentation without going through the IT staff. The new portal software, from Art Technology Group, will let the newspapers dynamically move elements around the pages, offer personalization and serve targeted content and promotions to online readers. The site currently provides little wiggle room for creativity and expansion.

"This will give them more flexibility in managing their sites," says Dennis Pals, general manager for Denver-based MNG Interactive.

Today, the IT group tracks the laborious process of making changes. The company adds up to 2,000 articles to its Web sites daily. Even if it's just a change to the front page of one of MediaNews' papers, Marsh says, IT still has to delete and regenerate all the pages on the pub's site.

Trial and Error

Before adding a Redline T/X 2600 Web I/O Accelerator appliance to the mix, MediaNews tried caching and other tactics to relieve the app servers of URL-translation duty. Marsh and his team began by caching parts of each Web page at the Web server, which they still do today, to take the workload off the app servers.

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