February 23–26, 2020
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Building for rapid scale: A deep dive into the New York Times' messaging platform

Aikaterini Iliakopoulou (The New York Times)
1:15pm2:05pm Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Location: Grand Ballroom West
Secondary topics:  Case Study
Average rating: ***..
(3.38, 8 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Software developers, software architects, and application architects




The New York Times sends nearly 4 billion emails per year to its customers, ranging from daily newsletters to transactional emails. When it comes to push notifications, the New York Times sends news alerts to approximately 50 million devices that are subscribed to receive them.

This is all possible thanks to the New York Times’ new messaging platform, which in the last couple years has been fully developed in Golang and runs on Google Cloud App Engine. The new platform is comprised of a suite of microservices that are each responsible for a specific function, which include keeping track of a user’s newsletter subscriptions and metadata, quickly selecting an audience for a newsletter when sending, providing an admin UI for assembling email content and scheduling newsletter dispatches, compiling and sending an individualized email for each recipient, collecting and aggregating data about the emails sent and user behavior, and providing convenient consumer APIs for other teams to send transactional emails and access business-critical data.

Katerina Iliakopoulou takes a deep dive into the journey from retiring the legacy systems used for sending emails and push notifications at the New York Times to a new, stable, and highly scalable platform. Katerina explores the architecture behind the new messaging system, the business requirements that influenced it, and the key decisions that allowed delivery times to drop from hours to a few minutes.

Prerequisite knowledge

  • Familiarity with microservices and cloud technologies
  • A basic understanding of software development

What you'll learn

  • Explore the architecture solutions employed by the New York Times for building a messaging platform for rapid scale
  • Gain insights into the business rules that influenced the architectural decisions
  • Learn about tools and architecture design that can help you build highly scalable systems
Photo of Aikaterini Iliakopoulou

Aikaterini Iliakopoulou

The New York Times

Katerina Iliakopoulou is a senior software engineer in the Messaging Group at the New York Times, where she maintains the platform that delivers newsroom produced messages, being either a newsletter or a push notification. She’s interested in machine learning, information retrieval, and system design—especially if they’re applied in a news media context. In her three years at the New York Times, she’s led the architectural design of one of the team’s main frameworks for serving recommendations and worked on a variety of projects that facilitate the use of recommendations on the New York Times’s platforms, either by building microservices or collaborating with data scientists to productionalize recommender models.

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