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Ektron Developer's GuideBuilding an Ektron Powered Website
By Bill Cava Bill Rogers Aniel Sud
John Wiley & SonsCopyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIntroducing Ektron
* What is Ektron?
* What support and services does Ektron provide?
* What makes the Ektron Framework unique?
* Who uses Ektron?
Welcome to the first ever Ektron book. As explained in the Introduction, the ultimate goal of this book is to give you a solid understanding of how to achieve success with your Ektron Web projects. As a developer using the Ektron Framework, you not only have access to its full suite of software components designed to help you build compelling and engaging websites, but you also have an entire array of services and support available at your fingertips from the online developer community, Ektron's Global Partner Network, Ektron's own Best Practices, Professional Services, and Training teams. Understanding that Ektron provides not just a framework, but also a complete solution, is the first step to achieving success with Ektron. This chapter offers a high-level introduction to both Ektron as a company (Ektron, Inc.) and the Ektron Framework to give you an understanding of what that complete solution looks like.
EKTRON: THE COMPANY
Ektron is a global Web solutions leader, providing a Web content management, marketing optimization, and social software platform, founded in 1998 and headquartered in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Ektron's founders, Bill and Ed Rogers, are the driving force behind the company, setting strategic direction and aligning product development with their forward-looking vision for website technology. They founded Ektron ten years ago with a simple and clear vision: enable non-technical people to author and publish content easily on the Web. As an integrated solutions company, Ektron is dedicated to the success of its customers' and partners' Web projects as well as the entire lifecycle of their websites. In addition to software offerings, Ektron has built the services infrastructure to ensure the success of its clients' and partners' Web projects.
From building a software platform capable of supporting the benefits of an active virtual community to building relationships that benefit their customers and company alike, Bill and Ed believe in the power of community. The Ektron community spans the online world and in-person interactive opportunities such as Ektron's local user group tour and worldwide user conference. The members of this community have become trusted resources both inside and outside of Ektron, driving product innovation and contributing to the success of each other's projects.
EKTRON'S COMMUNITY, SUPPORT, AND SERVICES
Ektron's approach to enabling customer success revolves around maintaining an ongoing conversation through many mediums, ensuring that developers and content managers can reach people in the know through whatever format is most useful to them. Through the use of online peer-to-peer interaction, a multilevel support infrastructure, and the availability of professional services staff, Ektron has made finding help on a given issue quick and easy.
Ektron's Online Community
Ektron has demonstrated that it understands the importance of engaging social networks such as Twitter and Facebook in order to connect with its current and potential customers. On Twitter, Ektron can be seen interacting with customers, partners, and analysts, engaging potential customers, and sharing information on topics concerning CMS and Web technology. Technical support plays an important role on Twitter as well, as Ektron engages with customers to promote the Dev Center, a peer-to-peer support area for clients to assist one another with problems and ask general questions, with input from Ektron technical support and engineering staff.
On Facebook, Ektron promotes current events and webinars and takes the time to engage with fans. The company runs promotions and contests as a way to engage with the audience, making it fun and putting a personality behind the corporate brand.
An extension of the Dev Center is the Ektron Exchange Community. Developers can upload and showcase their code, add-ons, and widgets with others. The community can download, rate the code, and follow favorite developers.
The Ektron community is a vibrant and active one whose members are gathered around common interests. The energy of the community is evidence of the eagerness of its members to participate and help each other. The commitment Ektron has made to supporting, joining, and taking an active part in community activities plays an important role as well.
Here's a quick reference guide to where to find the Ektron Community online:
* Dev Center: http://dev.ektron.com/
* Facebook: http://facebook.com/ektron
* Homepage: http://www.ektron.com/
* The Exchange: http://dev.ektron.com/exchange/
* Twitter: http://twitter.com/ektron
Ektron Technical Support
When you find yourself in need of more support than what's available through the online community, it is good to remember that Ektron offers full technical support to all customers with an active maintenance agreement. When customers purchase the product, the first year of maintenance is included in the initial license agreement. To keep the maintenance agreement active, the maintenance agreement must be renewed annually. Doing so is an extremely smart idea, as it not only includes access to Ektron Technical Support but gives customers the access to download all current and future software releases, both minor (Service Packs, maintenance releases) and major product releases (8.0, 9.0, and so on). Considering that Ektron has a track record of releasing a new major version of the software at least once a year, keeping the maintenance agreement active is a cost-effective decision as well. Ektron's Technical Support hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. EST to 8 p.m. EST. There are a number of ways to access support services listed here.
Phone calls made to Ektron Technical Support will be answered almost immediately. All calls are routed to a dispatcher responsible for compiling the case information (version information, symptoms, logs, and so on), verifying an active maintenance agreement, and providing a case number. Once this dispatch call is complete, the information is reviewed by the support team and a Technical Support Engineer is assigned to the case and must return the call within two hours. In cases where there is a critical issue requiring a quick response time, phone support should be used. Issues submitted after 7 p.m. EST may not get a response before 8 a.m., but will be handled first thing the following business day. The telephone numbers to initiate support cases are:
United States: 1-866-4-EKTRON x7002
United Kingdom: +44 1628 509 040
Australia: +61 2 9248 7222
Check the Ektron website for the latest contact information at http://www.ektron.com/ contact/.
Web Form Support
Technical Support cases may also be initiated using the following Web form: http://dev.ektron .com/requestsupport.
Ektron's Support Service Level Agreement (SLA) states that the Technical Support Engineer assigned to a case initiated through the Support Web Form must respond to the customer within four to six hours. Once the form is submitted, a case number is assigned and immediately returned.
Sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org is useful when you have a technical support issue that requires resolution but lacks the need for a quick response. The Technical Support Engineer assigned to the case must respond to the customer within 24 hours.
Live chat is available through the Ektron website for basic questions from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST. In the event that a case cannot be resolved immediately in the chat session, a case will be created by the Technical Support Engineer, and then follows the same process as if it were submitted through the Web Form.
Ektron Contact Method Summary
Table 1-1 includes a list of contact methods.
Ektron's Technical Support Department is committed to achieving the highest level of customer satisfaction and has many quality-focused programs and processes to ensure that the support it provides exceeds customer expectations. However, there may be cases where your project requires assistance that falls outside of the level of support provided through the Standard Maintenance package. In these situations, you should consider Ektron's Best Practice Services.
Ektron's Best Practices and Professional Services
There are three main groups of technical services that Ektron provides to customers. Depending on your in-house skill level, you may be interested in some combination of these services to help ensure the success of your project. These services can make the difference by bringing Ektron application engineers in who bring years of experience on the Ektron platform with them and who work closely with the platform engineering staff at Ektron.
* Best Practice Services: This service gives you access to a dedicated on-call solution engineer at low cost. It serves as a king of advanced support system, where you might need faster turnaround times than normal support can provide, or where you want the assurance of having someone who knows your project and has been involved with it to be available at any time. These solution engineers can help you align your functionality with the Ektron Framework throughout the lifecycle of your project, and can continue to support your needs as your project moves towards maintenance and support.
* Application Engineering: This service is designed to fill in the blanks on your project, whatever they may be. The Application Engineering group is set up to handle your project from start to finish, moving from the requirements phase all the way to delivering the completed site. They can also be contracted to augment your staff on a temporary basis. This option is useful when you need either a turn-key solution, or when you've hit a rough spot and your deadlines are looming.
* Hosting Solutions: This service can range from a shared environment all the way to full co-located servers.
Ektron provides several distinct packages to provide the appropriate level of training for the different stages of your Web project. Given on site at your organization, or at one of Ektron's Educational Facilities around the world (Nashua, NH; San Francisco, CA; Toronto, Canada; London, England and Sydney, Australia), an Ektron trainer works with you on all aspects of a Web project. They can assist with issues throughout the lifecycle of your implementation, from installing the software to overseeing your project requirements and matching CMS features and best practices to the project goals. They also offer in-depth developer training on how to use and implement CMS features, and cover Ektron's Web Project Methodology on building successful websites (Ektron's methodology is covered in Chapter 2).
The types of training offered by Ektron are as follows:
* Ektron Quick Start Consulting: A fast-paced training that covers the essentials to get you up to speed and running with Ektron.
* Ektron Certified Developer Training: In depth, hands-on, technical training covering best practices, development, deployment, and methodology.
* Ektron Certified System Administrator Training: A training that any Webmaster, Web administrator, or IT staff responsible for the ongoing website management and maintenance will benefit from.
* Ektron End User Training: While the other training types are geared toward people who administer your site, the end user training is geared to help your users understand the system and to facilitate end user adoption.
* Ektron Custom End User or Administrator Training: By opting for a customized training, Ektron trainers will work to develop a custom curriculum covering any specific business processes related to the administration or content management of your site, in addition to the core skill set offered through the standard training options.
More information on Ektron's Training options are available on the Ektron website at http://www .ektron.com/training.
EKTRON, THE FRAMEWORK
The Ektron Framework, which began as a simple Web content management system (WCMS), has long since outgrown the limiting WCMS label. The feature cloud shown in Figure 1-1 highlights the breadth of the version 8.0 platform. With today's framework you have access to a vast collection of components that assist you in developing a site complete with the compelling features demanded by modern site visitors. It is clear the product has come a long way from its original early functionality of simple WYSIWYG content authoring and publishing.
All-in-One versus Best-of-Breed
In general, Web CMS platforms adopt one of two product architecture paradigms: All-in-One (also sometimes called Software Suites) or Best-of-Breed.
The goal of the All-In-One approach is to provide all features and functionality "out-of-the-box" without requiring integration with other third-party systems. In a general sense, the benefits of the All-In-One architecture stem from the fact that they are single systems requiring few if any external dependencies to operate. They provide many integrated applications that share a common database, development framework, and consistent user interface so all components have a coherent user experience. From a WCM standpoint, specific benefits of this approach are several:
* Cost: In most cases, All-in-One Software Suites cost less. To achieve a comparable feature set, Best-of-Breed applications must integrate many specialized and individually licensed software components and services.
* IT: Developers need to learn and develop against the single development framework offered by the All-in-One Software Suite and do not need to spend time integrating various frameworks or applications. From an operations standpoint, deployment is simplified since there are fewer disparate systems to manage and configure.
* Training: The interface of an All-in-One system offers a single application for site management and presents administration, IT staff, marketers, and content editors with a single user interface, decreasing the amount of time needed to spend on training to use, manage, and support the system.
The primary drawback to the All-in-One approach also stems from the fact that it is a single framework — you get what you get — and unless it specifically offers external integration points, an extensibility architecture, and open API, you are strictly limited to using what is there.
Standing in contrast to the broad capabilities of All-In-One Software Suites are Best-of-Breed systems. Best-of-Breed systems are specialized tools useful for a singular purpose. What Best-of-Breed systems lack in breadth, they make up for in depth. Since Best-of-Breed systems provide narrow but deep feature sets, many such systems need to be pieced together to offer a comprehensive solution. The single most compelling benefit to this type of product is rich functionality. Sometimes a specialized tool is exactly what you need. You might be able to use a Swiss Army Knife's scissors to cut through a piece of thick cardboard, but they certainly won't perform as well as heavy duty office scissors nor will they be as comfortable to use.
The drawback of using Best-of-Breed WCM systems is the complexity of system integration. Consider the various user models and registration systems used by software systems within the enterprise. In order to properly integrate third-party applications, data structures and APIs need to be available. Some notable open source Web CMS platforms follow this approach and therefore require third-party modules to achieve support for such things as LDAP or Active Directory, for example.
The Ektron Framework is unique in that it provides a hybrid approach, offering the breadth of functionality afforded by an All-in-One Software Suite but also providing Best-of-Breed integration judiciously where it makes sense. A perfect example of this type of smart integration is Ektron's choice to integrate with the leading Web Analytics providers such as Google, and Omniture in version 8.5 of the Ektron Framework (see Web Analytics in Chapter 9). Like WCM, Web Analytics is an industry that matured significantly over the past decade, and with the advances made by companies such as Google and Omniture, it makes little sense for Ektron to play catch up and re-invent the wheel at best. Ektron's choice to provide Best-of-Breed integration with such providers means you get the power of the Ektron Framework coupled with the strength of offerings of Google and Omniture, the established leaders in Web Analytics.
Excerpted from Ektron Developer's Guide by Bill Cava Bill Rogers Aniel Sud Copyright © 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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