The recent news regarding Ektron’s takeover and its imminent merger with EPiServer leaves customers anxious about the fate of their websites running on the CMS. Ektron users have more to worry about since Accel-KKR, the new owner has already named the newly merged company as EPiServer, and this may be a portent of things to come. While the new EPiServer has categorically assured Ektron users that their investments will be protected and that Ektron would continue to receive updates as of now, all bets are off in the long run. In a scenario where the future is uncertain, and since confidence and trust in its CRM is essential for the company to invest in its digital strategy, many Ektron users may want to migrate from Ektron to EPiServer CMS even without waiting to see how the situation would unfold.
Both Ektron and EPiServer are based on the .NET framework, essentially serve the same mid-segment marketplace and have many things in common. But no CRM transition is easy. Migrating to a new CMS is not as simple as subscribing to the required services and copy-pasting the required content to the new CMS. In the case of Ektron to EPiServer, there are several incompatibilities, especially in the scope and nature of the two CMS, and migration requires some effort and due consideration.
Follow these steps for a smooth migration from Ektron to EPiServer CMS:
Migrating from Ektron to EPiServer would require rebuilding the website. However, before getting into the actual task of designing new pages, consider the following:
Review the company’s online strategy vis-à-vis the opportunities available. For instance, this may be a good opportunity to co-opt an online store into the website since EPiServer offers this function integrated into the CMS.
Plan the site’s architecture upfront. In EPiServer, the website structure directly affects the site’s individual page URLs. Advanced planning would ensure that the page URL contains relevant keywords from the content, and this would give SEO a boost.
Undertake an inventory analysis, to decide which parts of the current data – web page data, application data, blogs, message board forums, and others has to be retained in the new webpage and which parts are no longer relevant. The unneeded data can be shed off, without wasting time and effort to migrate the same.
Data migration requires making several calls to the portal’s service layer. It may not always be possible to simply undertake a one-to-one mapping. Plan the configuration of the data in the new portal in detail, based on the structure of the new website, to outline and map out every single call that must be made to the portal’s service layer.
Any migration has to be preceded by a comprehensive audit of any approval chains or workflow processes in the existing website. It is important to document such chains and processes, complete with permissions and approvals, so that there is clarity on how it works, and it becomes easy to replicate it the same way in the new CMS.
Without reviewing and replicating the workflows, key components of the website, such as, say, order processing, fulfillment, taxing, shipping, and warehousing parts related to ecommerce, may work differently than expected.
Needless to say, migration offers a good opportunity to make any changes in the workflows, without causing additional disruption.
Over time, websites depend not just on CMS, but it also gets tied in with a variety of other systems that affect different areas of the business. Depending on when these integrations were done and who performed them, the present batch of employees may not even be aware of such integrations. It is such latent links that very often subvert the migration process and results in the websites going down post-migration. It is important to revisit all systems and conduct a thorough audit to ensure that the migration exercise does not miss out any linkage.
As with system integrations and workflows, it is important to understand how the existing Ektron based site has defined personalization. As always, this becomes a good time to review what is working and what is not working in this front, as well.
EPiServer has a very robust system for creating personalized content, but it works differently from similar customization in Ektron, and as such a learning curve would come into play.
Having redesigned the website and having reviewed the requirements going forward, the next step in migration is to make sense of the Ektron licensing available with the firm. For a straight migration, get an appropriate like-for-like license with EPiServer, so that it becomes possible to port all features to the new CRM. However, depending on the review of the functionality required, to hive off something not needed or adding new options such as e-commerce, marketing automation, or other add-ons, the new EPiServer license may be radically different from the legacy Ekron license.
To review the state of the existing license, tracking down the original purchase agreement and any subsequent renewals would help. Next, approach the EPiServer customer care with details of the existing Ektron license and a blueprint of the features and functionality required, going forward.
All things considered, the big question is how to transfer data to the new portal. The general methods to port legacy data are to develop an API or adopt a web services-based method. It is also possible to get direct access to the database or an export format, but this would require some technical expertise. Regardless of the approach, do not forget backups.
Ektron smart forms enable site’s editors to create streamlined, consistent content, and most users of this CMS have installed this handy feature. This helps in a smooth migration of the content, as EPiServer provides a similar capability. Using this same feature, it also becomes easy to create new content or update existing content to give the website a fresh look.
Having migrated the data, do not forget to restore the workflows, system integrations and visitor groups in the new CMS. In EPiServer, it is easy to paste a folder of assets on the server, and this folder will appear in the work area within seconds.
The similarities between Ektron and EPiServer notwithstanding, as things stand, EPiServer is a different platform with a completely different interface compared to Ektron. The imminent merger may make things easier, but users migrating to the new CMS would still need to get their bearings and understand how to use it. Years of familiarity with the current site would mean steep learning curves in the new site, and as such it is important to offer in-depth training on how to use the new system. This will help in making the transition smooth.
Push-button migration exists only in theory when it comes to content management systems. There will always be work, changes, and unplanned issues that require resolution. Migrating from Ektron to EPiServer is likely to be no different, but the fact that both companies are now one would make things a whole lot easier.