grandcentrix scales the official Eurovision Song Contest mobile app
Last year, grandcentrix got approached by digame, the company which provides the call and SMS tele-voting platform for the Eurovision Song Contest, and asked to start thinking about taking the experience to a mobile audience.
Reaching 120 million households in 39 countries, the Eurovision Song Contest is the second largest television event on earth, easily making this the largest cross-platform 2nd screen application ever done on mobiles. Our initial emotions ranged from feeling honored to reverential.
Based on a design driven by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), grandcentrix Concept Developers and Screen Designers came up with an experience, that closely ties into the entire Eurovision Song Contest franchise.
But by far the most complex technical aspects of this production cannot be experienced until the live shows go on air on May 14th, 16h and 18th 2013: Synchron TV content delivery and interactive voting right from the mobile devices.
“The sheer size to which the backend parts of this production would have to scale, were intimidating at times.
Traditionally, we based our development environments on Amazon’s EC2 platform, but for the Eurovision Song Contest, we teamed up with Google and came up with a fairly complex infrastructure setup comprising load balancers, advanced caching and distributed in-memory key / value stores.” (grandcentrix CTO Ralf Rottmann)
Our team took all the learnings from previous television productions like Germany’s Pop Idol (“Deutschland sucht den Superstar”), Germany’s Got Talent (“Das Supertalent”) and X Factor and started to build a completely new platform.
Given the scale of the undertaking and the involvement of more than 39 countries, the most important aspect at all times was what we call “the integrity of a vote”. From X.509 client-certificate based security up to real-time handling of each single interaction, the official Eurovision Song Contest mobile application incorporates many concepts, that have never been done before on iOS or Android.
Android users will be part of a highly interactive, engaging voting experience via the all new EasyVote service and should pre-register at eurovision.easyvote.tv. Unfortunately, owners of iOS devices are left out of this part, due to limitations that Apple imposes on App Store developers.
Infrastructure wise, grandcentrix decided to partner with Google. If not Google, who else could help us scale up to the required level?
Ralf: “Running on Google’s Compute Engine saved our lives. Early on, we decided to trust San Francisco based Scalr Inc. with helping us to manage our cloud. Another mission critical decision which turned out to be perfectly right. grandcentrix is planning to announce a formal partnership with Google Inc. later this year, so stay tuned. I’m also going to talk a lot more about the Eurovision Song Contest backend on GigaOM’s Structure 2013 conference, should you be interested in the details.”
With the Eurovision Song Contest mobile applications, users will be able to
- access all official news channels, photo and video galleries,
- get all songs from all artists taking part in the contest straight from their devices,
- use the all-new EasyVote interactive tele-voting feature (Android only),
- follow the voting results for the Semi Final 1, Semi Final 2 and the Grand Final in real-time and
- follow official per-country Twitter streams (participating countries only)
We thank digame mobile for trusting grandcentrix with this extraordinary production.
We are proud that Google announced the upcoming partnership with grandcentrix during it’s annual Google I/O 2013 conference and took this production as a highlight showcase for cloud computing based mega scaling. Recordings of the sessions are available here at 00:32:00 and here at 03:34:30.