Jon Tonberg, CTO at AmazeRealise, takes a look at four thorny issues when migrating from Ektron to Episerver, but also sees the positive side.
‘Lift and shift’ is a phrase that strikes fear into the heart of even the most seasoned implementation partner. It makes the process of site migration sounds like something that can be done by two burly blokes with a van. Alas, life is not as simple as this.
No magic button
Take the process of upgrading from Ektron to Episerver for example (or, indeed, any other CMS). We all wish there was a magical button you can press to make it happen instantly. Realistically it will involve a rebuild of your website and all those customisations you’ve deployed over the last number of years. It’s going to cost money.
But it’s not all bad news. A site migration is the perfect opportunity to reassess your requirements and clean up your site. Above all it’s the chance to take a step back and make sure you’re not wasting your investment on a new platform that fails to capitalise on the benefits of Episerver from day one.
Time to take stock
Content migration can be costly and time consuming. It’s essential to audit your site and create a content inventory before any migration takes place. This includes cataloguing your current content and its ownership, data structures, layouts, relationships, hierarchies and metadata.
An accurate inventory will help define your migration strategy and indicate the content that should be pruned ahead of time or rewritten for migration. As part of the audit, look at the value of your content. How many people are looking at it? Engaging with it? Is it supporting your site from a search engine optimisation perspective? This insight will help feed into your content migration strategy. If it's not delivering value then can it be culled?
Okay, so site migration isn’t as simple as moving furniture. But you’ll never have a better opportunity to take a good, long hard look at your current site, take out the content pruning shears and make your site even better.
Audit both ways
The easiest way to catalogue your site is undoubtedly from the top down. Use a crawler to follow links and uncover content and assets in a similar fashion to a search engine. However, for an Ektron site this may only provide part of the picture. With a little bit of Ektron API wrangling, you can build a much more accurate understanding, encompassing how and where content is represented within the CMS. You can cover areas such as template use, PageBuilder components, structured vs unstructured content, taxonomy, DMS managed documents, redirects and marketing URLs.
This will prove invaluable when mapping legacy Ektron content against new Episerver content models. It will also help you identify candidates for scripted migration (typically well structured content) and content that will need to be refactored or manually entered. You should also be able to identify ‘problem’ areas for migration, such as extensive Ektron taxonomy use, complex SmartForms and multiple page aliases. These need a different treatment in Episerver.
Identify your customisations and integrations
If you’ve been running on Ektron for a number of years, it’s likely you’ve customised the platform far beyond new content types and templates. There could be custom widgets, workflows, website tools, forms, external data feeds or integrations with other platforms.
You can't simply pull your customisations from the legacy site and plop them into the new one. As Episerver runs on ASP.NET MVC, rather than Ektron’s ASP.NET Web Forms, migrating or recreating site customisations will likely require refactoring or rebuilding. Although any integration points with external feeds or platforms may not change, the way in which the CMS processes or consumes data through those integrations will.
You’ll find that Episerver is a significantly more efficient, developer-friendly and maintainable platform. The experience of our own developers is that implementing custom functionality is significantly less difficult than it might have been on Ektron. And given Episerver’s much broader feature set, there’s a chance that the functionality you require is already supported by the platform.
AmazeRealise has a secret formula for smooth and effective site migrations, including Ektron to Episerver. Get in touch and let us do the lifting and shifting.