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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

 Posted  4/7/2017

Protect your existing Ektron Investment

UPDATE:  Check out our new Infographic here (5/16/2017)
UPDATE:  Download the Feature Matrix (6/1/2017)

Discussions about Web Content Management (CMS) these days always seems to focus on why you must replace your current CMS—and do so immediately.  But spending a lot of money on a new platform is not the right choice for every business.  Some companies will be better off sticking with—or upgrading to the latest version of—their current technology.

When CMS software vendors sell their products, the project is typically accompanied by a website redesign.  So, if you speak directly to any CMS vendor, including Episerver (the current owner of the Ektron CMS), then their sales initiatives are, of course, set up to try to convince you that this is the only way to go.   But, when you are having conversations with website firms that can help you better understand and implement your options, the first step should be an evaluation of your existing technology investments and how they align with your project goals.

A lot of effort has gone into convincing current Ektron customers to move to the newer versions of Episerver or to other platforms.  Even today, rumors and confusion continue to surface with the message that Ektron is going to reach an end-of-life.  All products sunset eventually, and Ektron will someday as well, just not in the immediate future.  The truth of this is easy to find—just look in the license agreement.  Many resellers have benefited from this confusion and have done almost nothing to address the actual needs of current Ektron customers.

At Mozaro, we start by reviewing our customers’ goals and expectations for their website.  If your CMS is doing what it is supposed to do for you; if your users have a solid understanding about how to use the tool and nothing significant is changing with the delivery of your website, then you might want to stick with your current technology.

To the savvy website manager, it is no secret that Episerver would prefer that you convert your Ektron relationship to an Episerver one.  At a minimum, they are seeking to retain their existing customer support agreements so that you don’t leave for another vendor.   However, Ektron customers who are current on their maintenance can easily obtain the most recent version of Ektron. It’s a good idea, too, because the product continues to be maintained to support changes in browser technology and meet the needs of today’s modern CMS.

The confusion lies in the current Ektron customers’ willingness to pay to convert to an Episerver license.  And, regardless of how any confusion might have started around cost, Ektron is still being supported and will stay current with existing technology changes for the foreseeable future—and it is still a very relevant product.  

So, which sites really need to convert?

When you consider how many of the features within an average enterprise software system are actually used, the answer may surprise you. In most enterprise software, only 7% of features are always used, whereas 29% of features are used either often or occasionally.  This leaves the other 64% of enterprise software features as rarely or never used at all, according to IT research advisory firm The Standish Group.  For a typical software license purchase of $100,000, that equates to about $64,000 in unused technology.

Before being dazzled by a lot of flashy new features, a good exercise would be to determine which technologies you are actually using, what is necessary for your project goals, and what, if anything, is missing from your current CMS.  It might quickly become obvious that extending your existing Ektron CMS investment makes more sense than converting to a different technology.

CMS migrations with or without a full website redesign

Unless you are completely starting over, when you convert to a different CMS you are usually migrating some existing content.  That means that some effort must be taken to organize the transition in such a way that it can be aligned to the site structure in the new CMS.  This content may also include images, videos and other assets as well.  

If you are not doing a redesign (often just called a “lift and shift”), then a migration usually includes an auditable process that typically consists of four main steps:

  1. Inventory the assets (images, etc)
  2. Extract the assets and Transform their link locations to the new CMS structure
  3. Load the assets into the new CMS
  4. Update the assets’ status for the inventory

The extract-transform-load (ETL) approach is straightforward and, when done properly, ensures all assets are ported over to the new site.

Organizing regular content (non-assets), however, is usually more complicated because each CMS handles content a little differently. To illustrate some of the differences, we might consider just moving content from Ektron to Episerver.   In Ektron, the content tree is used to organize content items.  However, in Episerver, content organization is more like a page tree where each page might consist of multiple types of content.   For Ektron this can also be accomplished in a similar way using PageBuilder or a “smart form.”

Additionally, there are often governance and security issues around what content is accessible to certain user groups and other workflow considerations. Special care is needed to ensure that the right people have the right access to information and sensitive data is protected throughout the migration.  

These considerations add extra time and expense to the migration process.

Generally, if you are not redesigning the site, there is often a real advantage to staying on the current CMS.

Be advised, however, that even if you do choose to stay on Ektron, you will encounter some issues when migrating users from older versions of the product.  It is possible to move users from older 8.x versions of the product.  If you are already on a 9.x version and are upgrading, then migration is usually a very smooth process.

Get ready for different!

If you do decide to upgrade from older versions of Ektron before 9.x to a current release, then you will likely find that not only does the interface look different, but the work area is more de-emphasized, making way for a more robust on-page editing approach.  This has created something of a learning curve for many existing customers.  However, if you have spent any time at all with a previous version, you will find that it is intuitive and easy to learn.

Ektron is a very viable CMS capable of integrating with the latest marketing automation, digital marketing and other back-end technologies.  And, while older versions of the technology will eventually sunset its support (again, see the license agreement; all technology eventually does), your current maintenance and support agreements make it easy for you to continue to leverage your existing Ektron investment for years to come.

You should carefully consider the money your company has spent and is continuing to spend on your maintenance agreement before deciding to convert to a different CMS.  In most cases, unless your goal is to dramatically enrich your company’s digital marketing capabilities with more advanced technology, then maintaining your investment in Ektron may be the best way to leverage your existing investments.

Contact us today to learn more about Mozaro and how we can help evaluate your CMS options.