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Ektron CMS Latest Upgrade: Which Version is Right for You?
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Ektron CMS Latest Upgrade: Which Version is Right for You?

CMS, Ektron, Hosting
Published by Bill Casey on 07.23.13

Ektron has recently released a new version of their CMS platform, version 9. Diagram is committed to helping you decide if this version is the right fit for your company.

Ektron has recently released the latest and greatest version of their CMS platform, version 9. This comes on top of five other major versions released in the last year alone.
Version 9 has many great advancements and definitely represents a step forward in the evolution of the platform. However, if you're like most Ektron users, you might be a little confused about whether or not, or when, to upgrade your Ektron site. Marketing hoopla aside, there are some important considerations when thinking about upgrading. Here are a few insights and tips that will hopefully steer you in the right direction.

If you're on a version earlier than 8.02 SP5, upgrade ASAP.

This is the first and most important consideration when deciding whether or not to upgrade. Not to sound alarmist, but if you are still on an early 8.0 version or even a 7.x version, its time to upgrade, today. Not only has the CMS significantly improved in features and functionality, but there are security vulnerabilities in the older versions that you may be exposed to. Ektron has been responsive in dealing with these threats and has addressed known security issues in its later releases. However, if you've chosen to remain on a old version, there's not much Ektron or anyone else can do to prevent unauthorized intrusions into your site and the resulting damage that can be done. We host hundreds of Ektron sites in our data centers on all versions released in the past several years and we've seen the results of inaction on upgrades…you don't want to deal with it. Your best bet is to upgrade to at least version 8.02 (service pack 5) which is the earliest version to fully address known vulnerabilities.

Which version is right for you?

If you're already on version 8.02 or higher, you may be trying to figure out which version you should go to next. There's really no correct answer, but as a rule of thumb, the latest stable build is usually our recommendation. What that means is the latest version with at least one service pack released (just to account for any bugs present in the initial release). Beyond that, the answer really depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Each version from 8.5 onward has made significant strides in developing a more advanced enterprise platform and version 9 is the current culmination of those efforts. There are a couple of features in version 9 that stand out and are worth noting.

Responsive Design Support

Version 9 provides more tools and features than ever before to support your website's responsive design or mobile enhancements. This is an important improvement in the Ektron platform since Mobile support is one of the most pressing topics on the Web today. However, a common question we hear is if upgrading to version 9 will provide a responsive, mobile-optimized site. The answer is no, it will not. In order for your site to be responsive, it must be built with an underlying responsive framework which actually controls its "responsiveness". Ektron's tools make supporting a responsive site much easier by allowing content authors to optimize content and images to work within the responsive site design. The actual responsive design however, is still primarily done by the site's programmers and designers.

Search

The CMS search functionality has probably undone the largest transformation in version 9. Ektron now offers advanced faceted searching using Solr, a robust open-source search platform. For large, content-heavy sites, this improved search functionality is a welcome addition.

Hosting Considerations

All of the advanced functionality and power of the newer versions of Ektron comes at a cost, and a large part of that cost is hosting. While smaller 7.x versions could be hosted inexpensively on shared servers, the system requirements on later versions have made that model obsolete. Ektron's published requirements for version 9 include a standalone web server (virtual or dedicated) with at least 4GB of RAM, a separate SQL server with at least 8GB of RAM and a separate search server with at least 8GB of RAM. While these are the published requirements, our experience shows that the larger, more complex and heavily trafficked sites will require even more resources to run efficiently. The fact of the matter is Ektron has transformed over the years from a relatively basic CMS to an advanced enterprise platform that requires an enterprise hosting platform to support it. Still, the requirements for a version 9 site can vary greatly. Contact a solutions consultant to discuss your site and its requirements and understand what your hosting requirements will be.

Has Ektron outgrown you?

With the tremendous growth in the platform over the past several years, it is not uncommon for clients to ask if Ektron is still the right choice for them. It's a fair question considering the client's business requirements may not have changed much and they do not see a need to utilize the advanced functionality now available to them when upgrading. Plus, the annual maintenance costs for the software can be steep, and part of what you're paying for is access to newer versions of the CMS. Ektron has made a clear move in recent years from serving the small to mid-market client to the larger, enterprise market. In some cases, the
platform may no longer be a good fit. However, rethinking how you're using your website and exploring ways in which the newer features can be put to good use is an effective use of time and preferable to either doing nothing or taking on the larger expense of re-platforming. Rethinking your business goals and exploring ways to increase your online presence utilizing a more robust CMS platform can result in big returns.

These are just a few ideas that might be helpful to take into consideration when deciding on an Ektron upgrade. To learn more, get in touch with one of our solution engineers who can answer your questions and help you decide which version of Ektron is right for you.

 

Have questions or comments about this post? We'd love to hear from you.