Translation Proxy: An Unexpected Ally of Agile Organizations

Translation proxy technology has earned its reputation as the fastest, most cost-efficient means of translating website content. It’s helped countless companies launch global marketing initiatives that would have been otherwise impossible given their development resources and budget realities.

But what happens when one of those growing companies becomes an established enterprise? Is their translation proxy thanked for its initial service and immediately swapped out for a more sophisticated system?

In some cases, yes. Large companies with a deep developer bench will embrace the opportunity to assume more granular control via APIs and CMS connectors. But more and more frequently, we’re seeing clients with ample development resources strategically adopt and retain translation proxy tools for an unexpected reason: It aligns with their agile ambitions.

What a Translation Proxy Is (And Is Not) Designed To Do

Before website translation can begin, the source text needs to be isolated from all the other code elements within each web page. The manual method of extracting these text strings, commonly called website internationalization, requires significant code modifications that distract developers from their primary innovation projects for months on end.

This task is further complicated by the fact that the content displayed on modern websites is often the product of several disparate systems. On an airline’s homepage, for example, text generated by booking engines, marketing automation tools, and customer service utilities may coexist alongside text from the company’ core publishing platform. As a result, developers now need an even broader set of skills to complete the task.

A translation proxy eliminates these website internationalization frustrations by automatically collecting text strings off the top-most, presentation layer of a page. There is no re-coding required, and no need to build bridges to every underlying content management system.

Once a translation is approved for publication, the target text is stored on a proxy server that sits between web users and the company’s primary website. When a user requests content in that target language, a localized version of the desired web page is assembled at the proxy server by instantaneously replacing source text with the stored target text.

While a translation proxy can be a significant asset, though, its full value cannot be assessed in isolation. The technology itself is simply an automated mechanism for extracting and replacing text strings. And though some providers perform this service more elegantly than others, a proxy is only one piece of the translation puzzle.

Successful brands will still need an intelligent means of orchestrating translator workflows, and in many cases, that means integrating proxies with a dedicated translation management system.

How A Translation Proxy Supports Agile Organizations

Website translation is an unavoidably technical task. Content needs to be traced back to its systems of origin, extracted from said systems, and seamlessly reassembled into localized web pages once translated. What companies can choose, however, is the extent to which this work aligns with (or distracts from) their strategic priorities.

As previously discussed, IT teams universally prefer to avoid manual website internationalization when possible. But what would make them choose a translation proxy over an API or connector-based approach? The answer is a combination of architecture and ambition.

Translation proxy servers sit apart from a company’s primary website infrastructure, reducing interdependency and overall complexity. Translation effectively becomes a loosely coupled service that is called upon when needed — as opposed to maintained as a core feature of the IT ecosystem.

This approach perfectly aligns with the service-oriented architecture models gaining traction in many of today’s top companies. Favoring independence over direct integration allows teams to flexibly combine services as business demands instead of engineering permanent partnerships. And when any one service requires updating, no code-level modifications need to be made among its complementary collaborators.

As a result, companies gain the freedom to quickly shift requirements or introduce new initiatives without fear of crippling their IT organization. In the case of hotel giant IHG, that meant scaling up support for more than a dozen languages as the brand strives to expand its global property portfolio by more than 25%.

This strategic shift from maintenance mindsets to innovation initiatives is sure to please IT teams as well. Hours formerly spent forging integrations and monitoring highly-interdependent assets can be converted into days spent developing fresh value. And for the growing proportion of companies whose fortunes are intimately tied to software development, every additional minute can be a competitive edge.

Learn More

For a closer look at the advanced capabilities and business implications of translation proxy technology, explore our Global Delivery Network product brief.