As a certified developer with six years' experience of designing, building and supporting websites on the Ektron platform, Headland is well placed to provide consultancy and support to companies who have websites built upon the Ektron CMS and are considering their platform strategy.
There are obvious causes for concern given the merger of Episerver and Ektron; is the life expectancy of Ektron strictly limited? Do I have a large invoice on the way to change platforms? If I stay put, where do I get support?
We can help you think through the options, confirm that the news is not nearly as bad as you may think, work with you to scope out a technology roadmap and support your current online channel on the way to a future that meets your business needs.
What are the options?
Starting with the Ektron platform; 9.1 service pack 2 is out there, and is a good, tried and tested robust platform. 9.2 is due for release in Q4 2016. Given there are numerous major players currently and successfully on version 8.6 it is relatively safe to say that you could upgrade to 9.1, take a view on 9.2 when it is released, and that the Ektron platform has a useful life of two years ahead of it.
Will there be Ektron support in place throughout this period? Well the answer is almost certainly probably. Two years is a long time in business, but the next twelve months is secure and in all honesty if you are currently on 8.6.5 the answer to your support questions to Ektron is likely to be "Upgrade to 9.1". The platform is mature and has been in the market place several years supported by agencies like Headland, so we are probably your best bet for support moving forward.
Am I likely to be in for a large invoice to upgrade to a new platform, potentially Episerver? Well not necessarily. As with all things service related, where there is no physical product so therefore a nominal cost of goods, there is the list price and there is the negotiated price. There will almost certainly be discounts available to upgrade to Episerver from Ektron, but this is likely to be based on the list price of your required license. In short, negotiate; it won't be list price, but nor will it be open source prices.
The open source alternative
Is open source a viable long term option? Certainly, .NET open source CMS platforms have come on leaps and bounds in the past few years. The leading player is Umbraco and depending on your requirements, a platform move from Ektron to Umbraco would deliver a great CMS that is incredibly user friendly to administer, is a developers' dream to work with and comes from a stable and growing technology business. There is a huge worldwide developer community and of course it is license free, so no big invoice for a license.
We have worked with Umbraco for almost as long as we have worked with Ektron. I can confirm that the Umbraco platform is a real contender for businesses of all scales. The basic CMS functionality is simple to set up and easy to use. There is a vast array of plug-ins, and the open API makes for the straightforward integration of bespoke and 3rd party code. The courier plug-in supports data transfer and syncing which facilitates a standard dev-stage-auth-live server set up, and support is available from a wide selection of agencies. In addition, for those teams worried about lack of official support with open source software, a premium SLA backed up support package can be purchased from Umbraco themselves if required.
So fret not. You have time to think, a stable mature platform, viable options and an experienced agency to talk to.
Graeme Wilson - Director, Headland.