operations posts

Apr 3rd 2012

AOL Wins Award for Decommissioning Servers

AOL has notched another award in our data center energy efficiency efforts. We've won the Uptime Institute's first "Server Roundup" contest to decommission old servers. The Uptime Institute, a data center industry think tank and trade association, called for data centers to find and remove duplicated or unused applications, out-of-date, obsolete servers and replace them with more efficient, virtualized hardware.

Given AOL's ongoing efforts to be more efficient in our data centers and AOL's Technology Operations team's ongoing work decommissioning servers, this challenge seemed right up our alley. Mike Manos, SVP of Technology Operations, had the entire Tech Ops team – from systems analyst to database administrators to project management to the data center team – involved in the migration to the internal cloud-computing environment, defining "absurd" server applications and products and identifying "power hog" servers. The team had to root out servers full of ancient data, which entailed touching almost every server and doing a "door-to-door" canvas to discuss the fate of the server with the owners.

After gathering the documentation for the contest application we learned that AOL started January 2011 with 37,016 servers, and decommissioned 9,484 – a 26% turnover, grossing $5.05 million in savings for 2011. The savings encompassed many areas of the company: electric costs for the servers accounted for $1.4 million of our $13 million annual electric bill, sourcing saved $2.2 million in licensing costs and asset management had $1.2 million in sale/recycle/scrap. During this time period we did install 8,376 new, more efficient servers. Net savings, including these new servers, is $4 million – still awesome! Environmental benefits were seen in the reduction of almost 20 tons of carbon emissions!

Mar 27th 2012

AOL's Brit Keller Talks Ads, Equality and Skateboarding

In an industry that's constantly evolving, it's hard to differentiate a company's advertising offerings from those of its competitors in the space. It takes a uniquely talented individual to tackle this challenge and Brit Keller, manager of the AOL advertising operations team, has the solution.

An AOLer for over seven years, Keller oversees all parts of the advertising process – from pricing to design to creative launch – and understands the factors that contribute to successful advertising offerings.

According to Keller, what makes AOL different is its products, technology and people. "Our products are fantastic – both the content we produce and the products we offer to advertisers specifically," says Keller. "Meanwhile, our technology delivers great results towards our clients' objectives, but the real differentiator is our people. We offer the best customer service in the marketplace and our people behind the scenes making our products and technology are as good as they get."

"From a campaign perspective, we're looking for business that is healthy and sustainable – it has to make sense for AOL and our clients from a yield standpoint. From an ad perspective, I always ask myself whether or not I would click or engage with the ad. We're all internet users first and foremost, so we have to constantly ask ourselves: Would I click on that? Will this yield brand loyalty? We then look at engagement measurements and ask: How are consumers interacting? How long? Are they clicking through? What actions are they taking? There's always a quantitative and qualitative analysis. If we meet and exceed our clients' expectations, and they continue to be a long term partner, those relationships are indicative of our success."

When asked about ad design, Keller explains that having a good understanding of the brand is most important. "Each brand has guidelines that they want us to work within. Once we have these parameters we can then identify that particular campaign's objectives. Does the client want to drive loyalty and engagement? Are they looking to drive clicks and/or a particular action? Lastly, we want to have fun with the design. We want the experience for online consumers to be as positive as possible by aligning the advertising with our content standards. It's an iterative process so we produce several concepts, work through rounds of feedback and make continual refinements before we reach the final product we want to publish and put out to the consumer."

Although the technology and operational part of the advertising industry is often associated as a male-heavy field, Keller says she doesn't see the connotation. "AOL does a great job of cultivating an open and equal environment for all employees. It's rare when I realize that I'm the only girl sitting in the room," said Keller. "AOL hires the brightest and most innovative people in the industry so I am constantly challenged to keep up with brilliant people around me. That's more of a factor then being a female." Keller also lists the people that work at AOL as her favorite part about working at the company. "AOL has been through a lot over the past years, and the people here are truly dedicated and inspired by what we do. We're making a difference in the industry and the company. It's an exciting time to be at AOL and I get reinvigorated every day because I work with folks who feel the exact same way.

And what makes Brit unique, other than her analytical mind and great understanding of the ad space? Her skateboard. An avid skateboarder, Keller spends her free time skating on the indoor ramp she shares with a bunch of her friends. She also skates with her Baltimore colleagues, but did not trythe sport until her mid-twenties which she does not recommend. "Broken bones hurt more later in life than when you're seven years old."

Learn more about AOL Advertising's offerings at http://advertising.aol.com/.

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