1. FC Köln is not just any club – it is one of the 20 biggest sports clubs in the world. And the red-and-white clad fans from Germany's fourth-largest city stand by their club through thick and thin. Good fortune once again prevailed for the three-time German champion in the 2021/22 Bundesliga season – the Billy Goats played a strong season, finishing in 7th place, and will play in the UEFA Conference League in 2022.
The football club counts on its website fc.de to be the central medium for interacting with its 114,000 fans. Not only does it provide up-to-date information, such as video content, but it is also the central channel for ticket sales and the fan store. The complex website also integrates third-party content. The content of the website has to be available 24/7 to provide the information fans need, but when ticket sales start, or around match days, the load on the website increases immensely – to more than 10 times the usual amount. Even during peak loads like these, those responsible want to offer users a good user experience. The website's performance is, therefore, a decisive factor for the club's digital footprint.
The editorial team now has a modern platform for running its website, which can respond dynamically to user requests. When the load is light, the resources are automatically scaled back, creating significant cost benefits; when the load is heavier, the architecture ensures that the user still enjoys high performance. Meanwhile, the web team can use DevOps approaches to manage the platform in an agile and dynamic way. T-Systems, as a managed services partner that has received awards from analysts, has their back. With the new foundation and access to the AWS ecosystem, 1. FC Köln can now also take the next steps toward digitalization.
Log file analysis makes it possible to better target fans with offers and much more. As an AWS partner, T-Systems also makes sure that best practices such as the Well-Architected Framework are adhered to.
Thanks to AWS, we were able to modernize our website and cut costs. The managed services from T-Systems provide everything our fan community needs in order to quickly and reliably engage with the content on our website.
Scalability and capacity management have proven to be recurring challenges for web managers in the past. The content management system (CMS for short) could not be scaled. The legacy system was not actively improved by the provider, nor was it sufficiently documented. Traditional hosting was only able to absorb the temporary peaks with long-term increases in infrastructure capacity. This led to high, unnecessary costs for the infrastructures, as the peak-load resources had to be operated and paid for continuously.
The 1. FC Köln web team was looking for a way to dynamically provide the system in line with user requests. The system was to be operated in a dynamic mode – even in light of regular changes to servers, middleware, and applications. Finally, the system should always perform at a high level – and at a lower cost. 1. FC Köln decided to make the switch to AWS and called on T-Systems to provide consulting, migration, and managed services.
T-Systems worked with the web agency to modernize the entire website. The original plan to take a lift-and-shift approach was quickly replaced by re-engineering and re-platforming. This involved modernization on the application level by the web agency, as well as on the platform and infrastructure level. At the same time, the website was also given new up-to-date security mechanisms in line with AWS best practices. First, T-Systems set up the landing zone with central security configurations in the Billy Goats' AWS account. This allows AWS resources to be managed from a single source. The new website uses redundant EC2 instances for the backend in two European AWS availability zones, which are linked through load balancing and auto scaling.
They act as a hosting platform for an Apache PHP backend construct that runs the website. A content delivery network for static content is installed upstream. Amazon CloudFront Service is used for this. The backend includes an in-memory cache (Redis) that buffers user requests, an NFS fileshare for storing static data (e.g. Java scripts, CSS, HTML, media data), and a relational database service (RDS) that replaced the old MySQL database. The security features introduced by T-Systems included a web application firewall and AWS GuardDuty, with settings optimized for the website based on the logs collected.
They defend the website against common web exploits and bots and help ensure consistent performance. This cloud-native foundation also made it possible for the web team to adopt DevOps practices. Amazon Machine Images are automatically generated according to the established Git Flow principle. The GitLab CI pipeline rolls out the deployments to the (new) developer environment and – after approval by admin – to the production environment.