TELLUS new web-site is now live and Powerered by Windows Azure

Development of the central area west and east of the Capitol--Washington D.C. 1941In my inaugural blog entry I explained what our readers can expect to find in this blog. In this blog, I will explain the reasons for TELLUS renewing the web-site.

It is hard to believe how quickly time has passed since I founded TELLUS (2005) and all of the small and exciting things that I had a chance to do at the time like having a logo designed for us, getting our first web-site implemented and getting the first web-pages up-and-running etc.

If I fast-forward from the founding moment and review where we are today, I believe there are quite a lot of things that we have learned along the way. I believe this is probably our 10th web-site throughout these years. I can whole-heartedly say that we have learned a lot, both good and bad and in early December 2012 I decided to take the destiny in my own hands and make a few changes in the way we are doing things in respect to our web-site. Following requirements were set to our new site:

  • The new web-site should be based on Content Management System (CMS) technology
  • The web-site is not going to be built to just be good looking, it has to provide information of our services in short and concise format and if the reader has interest, he/she will then contact for further information. To contact TELLUS should be very easy whereby almost every page should have a button to request for information.
  • The web-site needs to have a powerful blogging engine, where our skilled professionals can share current information of different topics that they work with.
  • The technology should be based on popular technology that is widely used. We did not want to be the only one using the system.
  • The web-site should not be built by a programmer that is the only one that knows about it
  • The web-site should have a waste ecosystem of plugins that we can use and buy to include in our web-site whenever something is needed
  • The web-site technology should support most popular internet browsers and devices without having to customize for each one of these separately
  • The “skin” or “template” that defines the look-and-feel needs to be based on commercial technology

BASED ON COMMERCIAL “SKINS” OR “TEMPLATES”

My policy has always been that any web templates specifically when using CMS technology has to be based on a commercial skin that is maintained and upgraded with time. Nothing else will work with me. I do not care if the skin does not have all of the glimmering effects and flying saucers; I just want it to work as I am pretty sure my readers just want to get the info and not to see how many different color flavors it has.

HAS TO WORK WITH ANY DEVICE

I also wanted to ensure that the web-site will work with any device, whether it is mobile phone or a tablet and this would have to work “out-of-the-box”. I do not want to spend time and money in trying to fix things when there is a new device or browser version coming out.

HAS TO BE SUPPORTED BY ROBUST HOSTING

I also wanted to make sure that the selected web-technology would be running in a robust and scalable environment such as Windows Azure. I have run twice in a situation where a private hosting company has notified me that they are going out of business and I need to move my sites somewhere else. I am betting that Microsoft is going to be there for a while….

CRITERIA FOR THE SELECTION

I have worked with many CMS technologies throughout the years and after having read tens of different blogs about the pros and cons of each technology, it was pretty obvious to me that WordPress would be the right technology for us. One of the key drivers in this selection was that WordPress is very strong as blogging platform and it also has a huge ecosystem of third-party plugins that you can buy. Also, Microsoft supports WordPress “out-of-the-box” in Windows Azure and my personal blogging site (www.drsalonen.com) was already based on WordPress so I was already familiar with the technology.

TESTING OUT WINDOWS AZURE

What I did was that I moved my personal blog site www.drsalonen.com that was based on WordPress technology into Windows Azure to see how the environment works and whether I could do the same thing with our official TELLUS web-site. You can do this for by signing up a free trial at Microsoft Windows Azure web-site.

I did this during December 2012 and my experience of Windows Azure Web sites was extremely positive and I made a decision to move our main TELLUS site to be powered by Windows Azure as well. I even wrote some thoughts and tips on the transition in my person blog in December 2012.

MOVING TELLUS WEB SITE TO WINDOWS AZURE

The final phase of my project was to initiate a WordPress site on Windows Azure and move the content “as is” from the current DotNetNuke-based (DNN) CMS site. There is absolutely no problems with DNN as technology, in fact I really like it but we as a company have changed and I feel that we are more about information sharing so a strong blogging platform would do the trick.

MANUAL MIGRATION FROM DNN TO WORDPRESS

DNN and WordPress technology are based on completely different technologies so I I did not even try to figure out how to migrate the data from DNN to the new WordPress, I just bluntly decided to copy-paste the pages and I think this was a useful exercise as what I realized at the same time was that the content really had to change as well.  What happened eventually that I cut the commercial jargon to the minimum and tried to really express what we do, what is our target market segment and what kind of packages you can buy from us. No fuss and extra wording. I also wanted to bring across our company philosophy and how we view our work. I think web-sites should expose more what type of “atmosphere” the company has and what is important for both the company and for its customers.

BUYING THE NEEDED ADDON MODULES

As part of this project, I wanted to buy the needed modules that were part of the initial requirements. One of the key elements for us even in the previous site (which really did not work well) was to enable people to subscribe to things by registering to the site. I ended up buying a commercial module with real support team behind the solution. That has already now paid out big time. I will explain in later blog entries why I feel that “free software is not good”.

THE WINDOWS AZURE WEB-SITE IS HUMMING

When sitting and writing this blog entry, I know that we now have a scalable environment for our web-site and we have a good place where we can share information and experiences. Also, when I look at the process itself, there really weren’t big obstacles on the way.

The site has now been running for one full day and I am very happy personally of the decision to move to both WordPress and Windows Azure. Time will tell what kind of additional things we might need as part of this journey to have a better, more information rich web-site.

photo by: lacafferata

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