Posts Tagged ‘WebCentre’

Oracle Web Centre (Fatwire) : Is it an old generation CMS?

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Recently Oracle acquired Fatwire, which has been one of the leaders in the WCM/WEM space. I have been tracking its progress through various releases and recently got a chance to work with Content Server 761. I had great expectation and always wanted it to do well ( may be because it was the first cms product I ever used and also worked for them during Divine days). Here are some of my ever good and no so good list which I try based on my product experience.

Good

  • Follow,to the dot, the separation of content assets from presentation templates which has been in question recently with the more newer Cms’s like Adobe Day CQ
  • Publishing mechanisms available out of the box are one of the strengths with recent addition of Real Time Publishing
  • Enhanced caching and seperating the cache to each individual nodes has been one of the great improvements to its performance questions
  • Availability of system tools in a supported version is always a nice thing to have
  • Finally that there is some respect towards developers by coming up with initial version of Content Server Developer Tools (CSDT), though there are number of shortcoming with it
  • Introduction of Central Authentication Service (CAS) is a welcome change to the stack which provides much more flexibility around development and extending it beyond stereotype implementations
  • etc. etc.

Not so good

  • Some of the basic changes within the implementation requires quite a lot of work. A good example is vanity URLs. Most of the clients now a days have this basic requirement especially around blobs but there is none out of the box URL assembler available
  • Deployment is one of the most painful area. Even with CSDT, which is just the recent addition to product, there are many area’s which it lacks. The basic use cases are not covered by CSDT
  • With CS 761, there are headless installs which is welcome change through if you are upgrading to CS 761 from version below CS 75 there is no other way apart from GUI based installers
  • Product customisation is one of the pain area’s. There is no concept of extending the existing elements into your project elements and apply changes. Which means each time you run an upgrade, there is an activity to reapply all the changes again which makes upgrades sooo much error prone and time consuming
  • CS Engage, for providing personalised content, has never been an easy product to work with and get your head around it
  • There are number of modules on top of core content server but its been utilised scarcely across the globe and tough to find a single case study when in need
  • Rollbacks are still is old 90’s fashion way of taking file system and database dump and restoring them back. Cold dumps needs to be taken to get an exact snapshot of the system at that point in time
  • Lots of documentation is there but they cover basic information and for anything beyond basic changes require folow-up on yahoo groups or through support
  • Support centre has not been supportive. It sometimes feel, just to meet their SLA’s, there are responses which doesn’t even relate back to the actual query
  • etc. etc.

Most of the not so good issues has already been addressed by the newer CMS products and what is taken for granted with a product,Fatwire has not been able to address them. It will be good to see how Oracle take them on board and how WebCentre integration brings in to overcome some of the obvious issues.

Choosing a CMS: Have you considered upgrade process?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

There are lots of sites/advisory papers which talk about how to choose a right WCM for your needs. And I am not going to re-invent the wheel here. But there is one aspect which is always given less importance and usually neglected during CMS selection and that is the upgrade process.

Usually upgrades shouldn’t be too tricky as most of the upgrade does is change some schema definition and update existing product code base. So why it needs to be considered at CMS selection process? Read on !

Most of the big WCM Implementations need customisation of some sort and so upgrade projects become more tricky when product overwrite these customisations. A lot of it depends on the under lying architecture of the product. Lets consider two well known products: Oracle WebCentre (previously Fatwire) and Adobe Day CQ. Adobe Day CQ provides facility to overwrite the default components and configurations by simply extending them within your own project. Customisations are achieved without modifying any of the system files, provided its implemented based on CQ recommendations. So, upgrade path for CQ is pretty straight forward and shouldn’t cause sleepless nights.

On the other hand, consider Oracle webcentre where customisation could be achieved only by modifying the underlying system elements. Even your implementation follows the Fatwire recommended approach for customisations, it will lead to changes to system elements. What that means is that upgrade is not straight forward and upgrade itself becomes a project in its own where time lines vary with the number of such customisations.

In a short period product A might satisfy your requirements more than product B, but its important to look at the longer picture because something which looks cool and easy to implement and run might not get you the expected returns in future. And considering the way technology is changing, no one can move away from not upgrading their products for long.