Q&A: Moving from Ektron to the Digital Experience Cloud

Thursday, November 19, 2015

At the recent Episerver Ascend conferences, such as in Las Vegas, our customer-facing representatives were asked a number of questions regarding the move from Ektron to the Digital Experience Cloud. Here are some FAQ-style responses based on some of the most common questions asked:

Ektron to Episerver1. How did Ektron and Episerver create the Digital Experience Cloud and is there a fully automated upgrade path?

As part of the converged Digital Experience Cloud, we elected to adopt the way the Episerver platform managed content as opposed to that of Ektron based on a careful review of each. This means that there is an architectural shift in the way content is organized for those familiar with Ektron. We then re-implemented the most powerful and useful Ektron features such as the Digital Experience Hub (DXH) and eSync technology but in a more modern and user-friendly way. The converged platform provides Ektron customers with many advantages, and also many new features that neither Ektron and Episerver customers had before, but that also meant we couldn’t offer a completely automated upgrade mechanism. Instead we put together a package of partner services; tools to help facilitate the move; and expert services solution accelerators to ease the move, and many customers have already done so. For more information about these resources, please contact James Stout or Allan Thraen

 

2. Is the move to the Digital Experience Cloud free for Ektron customers?

Most Ektron CMS customers who have made the move did so because they wanted access to and saw value in the advanced feature-set of the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud, and often times to replace their existing license and on-premise deployment for the benefits of continuous releases from the cloud. So, although some customers have just moved up on a (close to) like-for-like basis, more have added new features as part of the move that they didn’t own before (such as Episerver Find), and these of course require additional licensing or if in the cloud, an additional service fee as you would expect. However, customer’s existing investments are always taken into consideration (e.g. existing maintenance and support ceases and is replaced by a monthly cloud service fee if transitioning from an on-premises deployment to and on-demand one). There is always a degree of service required as well, and this will vary based upon the scope and intent of the move. In all cases, including information about the cost of the move, you should always start by contacting your Episerver Account Manager.

 

3. What are my options as an Ektron customer?

For our Ektron customers, we have worked hard to making your move up to the Digital Experience Cloud as simple and as easy as possible. To that end, we’re providing several channels for help:

  • Documentation explaining the platform differences, best practices, and considerations for the move;
  • A kit consisting of sample code which illustrates for technical users how content may be transferred between the two platforms;
  • A reference list of Ektron and Episerver partners who have experience in both platforms;
  • 3rd-Party tools that can help ease the content transfer by reducing the effort needed to move and map the content, and keep it in sync to minimize any content freeze requirements.

 

4. How long will the move to the Digital Experience Cloud take?

The level of effort and amount of time taken will vary by customer, by need and by application. Are you moving the content to the new platform as-is or designing new models? Are you keeping your current design or redesigning? Will you stay with your legacy WebForms implementation or move to MVC? Each of these will have a potentially different impact on the time it takes to move. “Forklift” efforts, in which the content and design remain the same, may take as little as one month. More complex projects with content audits and redesign will take on more of a typical project timeline in accordance with the size and scope of the project. We recommend you work with a qualified partner or Episerver Expert Services about the specific needs of their project.

 

5. What resources are available?

For business users, we have a single document that outlines the benefits, practices, and considerations that need to go into a successful upgrade project. This covers how to think about your content, preservation of SEO, and more.

For developers and other technical users, we have two documents that cover transfer of the site IA and content, respectively. These documents highlight the differences between the platforms in regards to content architecture and modeling. They attempt to cover the most common scenarios likely to be encountered by technical staff. 

In addition, our technology and developer evangelists, Allan Thraen and James Stout, have developed a two-part starter kit. In the first part, Allan has developed a prototype add-on for Episerver Digital Experience Cloud that adds REST API functionality so content can be read from or written to a Digital Experience Cloud instance remotely. The second part is an integration with both the Ektron services and these new Episerver REST endpoints and provides developers an easy way to map content between systems. 

 

6. Can you recommend a partner with expertise in this area?

Ektron partners are rapidly coming up to speed on the new platform. The following example partners have deep experience with both Ektron and Episerver and familiarity with the move to the Digital Experience Cloud:

If you are currently working with a partner, ask them about their experience with the Digital Experience Cloud and how they can help you move up to the latest release.

 

7. What 3rd-party tools can help with my project and what advantages do they provide?

Software tools can provide ready-made data transfer options that require only a small amount of configuration. The time-savings can be huge and are definitely worth it - particularly for sites with:

  • A large amount of content
  • High variability in content (lots of types)
  • High velocity content (lots of updates) 

They can take the total time from inception to transfer from 6 weeks or more of custom development and planning, down to 2 weeks or less. Moreover, each of these is capable of running multiple passes, which can ease the burden of a content freeze to nearly nothing, which is perfect for sites that are constantly undergoing content changes.

Siteport (http://www.siteport.net) - Siteport is an easy-to-use software package that helps Episerver partners move their Ektron customers to the Digital Experience Cloud, and  has worked diligently to ensure their offering streamlines the content workflow. They support movement of menus, content, assets, and more. They have a dedicated product development team that has proven their willingness to make important enhancements that address some of the most common challenges with Ektron’s content structure.

Contact:
Bill Shook
Director of Sales
wshook@siteport.net
+1 562 606 1192

Kapow (http://www.kofax.com/data-integration-extraction) - Kapow is a sophisticated and mature collection of tools designed to transition and transform content between systems. It can work directly with APIs, databases, and can even crawl and scrape content directly from the page to transform it into more sophisticated models. Kapow will be particularly useful for minimizing the content freeze window in high-velocity sites and for complex implementations that require a more deft and configurable solution.

Contact:
Stephen Moore
Sales Executive
stephen.moore@kofax.com
+1 512 241 3404


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