Logo Rob Buckley – Freelance Journalist and Editor

Moving home

Moving home

Shifting content from one web site to another is not an easy task. But following a number of basic rules can make it easier.

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When telecoms equipment maker Ericsson needed to cut costs, one of the most obvious areas of waste was its web site. Or more specifically, its web sites: it had more than 2,000 content management systems and document management systems, both internal and external.

Not all of these, of course, were feeding Ericsson's various web sites, but the organisation nevertheless realised that these needed to be consolidated in order to cut costs, save staff time and streamline the company's branding.

It was the task of Johan Wetterhorn, the global product manager responsible for content management at Ericsson, to consolidate this mish-mash into something more coherent. After a project lasting some three years, he managed to reduce that number from 2,000 to just one.

“Just in the enterprise document management area alone, we had more than 100 local systems out there,” he says.

Even though the excitement of the dot-com era is now more than five years gone, there are still many organisations with multiple web sites running on multiple different systems. Other organisations, meanwhile, need to migrate from older systems to something newer in order to take advantage of the latest features on offer - or for any number of other reasons.

For example, the web site that worked for an organisation when it was small or had a relatively modest amount of content is unlikely to work as effectively as the organisation - or its content - grows. As a result, many organisations consider migrating to another platform, which is where they discover that there are considerable problems moving from one web content management system to another.

Problems and solutions
The simplest and most common migration is simply to move the system from one server to a more powerful server running exactly the same software - a task that sounds straightforward enough in principle.

If the server is to remain with the same host, the service provider should be able to manage most of the technical aspects of the relocation; service level agreements will ensure that if there are any glitches, the provider will pick up the tab. But if the organisation plans a change of service provider, some additional groundwork is necessary. Before picking a new host, says Ané-Mari Peter, co-founder and managing director of web consultancy on-Idle, organisations should first set themselves a budget and compare costs between Internet service providers (ISPs) and their various packages.

“Requirements such as technology, costs, processing speed, support services, the web space, bandwidth and so on are factors that will determine pricing, and therefore the vendor. But ensure that the service that you are moving to has solid support and preferably a human to speak to as well as email support. If appropriate, inform your customer base if the service or product that you provide may be reduced, affected or withdrawn for a period of time,” says Peter.

The problem of scripting languages
The simplest of web sites can survive using simple 'static' HTML pages. That is to say, pages scripted in HTML and not constructed dynamically with the aid of a content management system.

But any site that needs to personalise pages for users, add information from databases or simply include changing data from another site will need a method for creating these 'dynamic' pages.

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