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[Susan Tobes]  I sent a short list of questions out to the Service Advisory Council and several additional customers and received the following.

Question 1:  Are you currently deploying a Content Management System to support your unit?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) - Yes

Tom Holub (LSCR) - Yes

Mara Hancock (ETS) -We use Drupal as a website for ETS and our Opencast Project. This use is not what I would think of as a CMS. We use Confluence for ETS and Opencast as well. Two different instances. Confluence is integrated with Jira, which is our bug tracking system for development work and help desk and equipment inventory repairs for classroom. We use Wordpress as the front page for our webcast.berkeley site.

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs) Questions 1-5 - We have no CMS in Public Affairs. We have an aging, Perl-based, custom-built set of web forms that enable us to publish individual news stories and the daily Berkeley in the News digest, but these deliver only flat HTML files and have no database component, so they don't qualify as a content management system. All other pages in our various sites are hand-built in Dreamweaver.

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) - Yes. 3 installations: two biosecurity sites, 1 local intranet.

Tom Chow (UNEX) - Yes

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - We run quite a few domains, both for our "main" sites and for all of our "publication" sites. We run all publication sites with WordPress and all of our main/complex sites with Django.

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - Yes

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology) - No

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 2:  If yes, which one?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) -Pyramedium

Tom Holub (LSCR) - We're supporting three CMS-like-things centrally; WordPress (both standard and WordPress-MU), Drupal, and our own applications for directory, news, and course information.  We also have customers who are using Joomla, PHP Web Site, and probably others.

And that's leaving out the wikis.  We support MediaWiki centrally, but have customers with at least two or three other wiki tools.

Mara Hancock (ETS) - See above

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs)

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) - Plone

Tom Chow (UNEX) - Home grown system of VB & foxpro

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - We consider ourselves primarily a Django shop.

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - Drupal

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology) - NA

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 3:  Why did you select this solution?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) -  It met the basic needs for distributed content management with configurable approval workflow. When this CMS was adopted more than 4 years ago there were fewer alternatives.

Tom Holub (LSCR) - WordPress and drupal were selected based on repeated customer demand; they are where the momentum seems to be.  We built our own applications several years ago, before the available offerings were mature.

Mara Hancock (ETS) -Open source, good sized community to draw on for help and functionality, it paralleled the systems supporting our community source work, so it creates a good workflow and limits learning curve.

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs)

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) - Plone has a superior security record compared to other CMSes and it is opensource. There is no enterprise version. It is free.
Tom Chow (UNEX) -  Probably due to NIH (not invented here)

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - We knew after years of working with PHP based solutions that we were done with it and wanted something truly clean, modern, and 100% object oriented. The decision basically came down to Rails or Django and Django won out due to wide consensus that Django is better designed, and that more externalities are supported through the larger number of existing, mature Python libraries.

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - Robust functionality, flexible architecture and strong local community support

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology) - NA

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 4: Where is this solution hosted? IST? Offsite? Your site?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) - IST

Tom Holub (LSCR) - On our own web host at the moment.  We're looking at migrating to Dreamhost.

Mara Hancock (ETS) - Opencast is offsite, the ETS servers are at IST, but our sys admin staff administers.

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs)

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) - The production box is running at the datacenter. I administer it. A devserver runs in my office.

Tom Chow (UNEX) - IST

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - We run all sites from our own web server.

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - IST

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology) - NA

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 5:  If offsite, why did you select to go offsite?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) - NA

Tom Holub (LSCR) - Cost, and available tools at DreamHost are better than what we can offer.

Mara Hancock (ETS) - Less expensive and our Opencast admin is at Cambridge

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs) - NA

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) - NA

Tom Chow (UNEX) - NA

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - NA

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - NA

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology) - NA

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 6:  If at your site, what challenges, if any, are you having in supporting your CMS?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) - None

Tom Holub (LSCR) - The biggest issue is managing updates to the underlying software.  We've moved to WordPress-MU so we only have to maintain one WordPress install; that's working reasonably well.  Managing multiple sites in Drupal seems quite difficult, which is one reason we're interested in moving to Dreamhost, to more easily provision multiple sites.  The biggest issue with multi-site in Dreamhost is managing different themes, and different custom modules.

Mara Hancock (ETS) - None

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs) 

Jason Christopher (Goldman School)  - The CMS has been very stable. We don't have issues supporting, however, we are now faced with migration issues that may require us to get outside

assistance. Migration is not something one does often, so it makes sense to get help from someone who has done it ten times...

Tom Chow (UNEX) - Homegrown system requires both non-technical & IT work.  We would like to see a content solution that non-technical people can use without IT intervention.

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - Our server is a cPanel system. cPanel does not support Python-based sites natively, or mod_wsgi. We had to work out ways to build and configure mod_wsgi manually in such a way that it wouldn't interfere with cPanel updates.

As for Django itself, it's not a CMS itself, but a framework for building a custom-fit CMS that matches your organization's needs exactly. In terms of "support" I guess I'd say that existing reusable apps for Django aren't always as user-friendly as we'd like and we have to modify / customize them to meet our needs. In practice this has not been a problem and we get all the support we need from blogs, forums, IRC, mailing lists, etc.

In case you're interested, here is a detailed piece on why we use Django rather than Drupal, which is more popular on this campus:
http://birdhouse.org/blog/2009/11/11/drupal-or-django/

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - NA

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology)

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 7:  How large is your reach with your current solution? i.e. how large is your audience?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) - Recent counts show we have over 15k pages in our site(s). We average upwards of 300K page views per month.

Tom Holub (LSCR) - Most of our sites are the main web site for an academic department; the reach is global.

Mara Hancock (ETS) -Global for Opencast, global for the ETS website, and ETS-wide for our local implementation of Confluence. Wordpress/webcast.berkeley is global.

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs) - The gateway site gets 80K+ pageviews a day; our news site averages around 8K pageviews daily.

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) - 80+ users

Tom Chow (UNEX) - We support 18k unique students/year and ~95% of them register through our web site.

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - This is difficult to measure because we host so many sites and we don't have a single place where aggregate data is collected. I can quickly say that we have roughly these numbers:

Site:            Visits per day:

Main J-School: 1,365 (Django)
Knight Digital Media Center: 2,110 (Django)
China Digital Times: 5,000 (WordPress)
Mission Local: 1,702 (WordPress)
Oakland North: 779 (WordPress)

So all told around 10k visits per day from a single server, including many smaller sites not listed here.

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - 100,000 visits during last month (67,000 unique)

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology)

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 8:  How many content providers does your solution serve?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) -  I am happy with hosting support. We use Calshare.

Tom Holub (LSCR) - Generally a small number (fewer than 5), although there are some cases where all faculty or all grad students are given access to update their own pages.

Mara Hancock (ETS) - For Opencast, too many to list. Anyone can become a member.  ETS, we have probably about 5-10 active editors and the rest of the dept. can create articles or blogs.

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs) NA

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) NA

Tom Chow (UNEX) - Not sure I understand this question.

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - Including all of the authors and editors around the world contributing the publication sites, well over 100. Limiting to just the main contributors to Main J-School and KDMC (the Django sites), around 10.

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - Not sure I understand this question. We have a variety of roles and permissions for our CMS, but not all of our user accounts are set up yet. We'll have at least 15-20 accounts when setup is complete.

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology)

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 9:  What is your perception of IST's current offerings for hosting or CMS support?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) -  Yes. This would be good for small departments.

Tom Holub (LSCR) - What offerings for CMS support?  I don't really view SharePoint or Confluence as CMSes. The web hosting offerings are too complex and expensive for our needs; we don't need an enterprise web host with dev/qa/prod environments, we need a cheap shared hosting solution.

Mara Hancock (ETS) - Don't know much about it really. (I missed a meeting)

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs) - The hosting options are somewhat diverse, but more costly than what is available in the off-campus marketplace. IST hosting also comes with more bureaucracy and less flexibility than an outside webhost. IST does have the advantage of an in-house staff with whom we can work on custom items, though there's a fairly high hourly cost for doing things that often are part of the base rate with an outside host.

On the CMS side, I'm not aware of any central IST-supported offering other than the CalWeb in a Box pilot, which as I understand it isn't actually IST-hosted, but is instead a Cal-branded reseller version from Dreamhost. And this program costs more and delivers less storage/bandwidth than what is broadly available in the marketplace.

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) - My perception is that it is a bit limited, but I plead ignorance. I went to IST to host Plone years ago and they were not uninterested.
Tom Chow (UNEX) - Current offering is centered on offering servers not a service or a complete solution.

Scot Hacker (Journalism)  - I haven't looked into it but would not expect IST's system to allow the level of customization and tool building that we require. We need to do a lot more than just publish content - we need to build equipment checkout and reservation systems, quiz and test tools, event systems, podcasting systems, course schedules tied to instructor bios and program affiliations, student resume building, job placement systems, multimedia project shells by visitors to our program, arbitrary query-based integration with our mailing list systems, and so on. Any solution coming from IST would have to have zero restrictions on the kinds of web based tools we could build.

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - Looking at the options available, there seems to be enough variety in offerings at a basic need level.  However, based on a higher level need the offering falls apart. For instance, Cal web pro is a fairly self-supporting solution; apache is configured, then environment is mostly set up for you. When we had to move to the VM, it was, here is your box...good luck. There was no basic Apache configuration, which for us was the hurdle. I think general IST support within the verticals (such as Unix, or DBA, or Windows) is pretty good. The issues arise when coordination needs to happen across these groups. When this happens no one seems to own the issue and no one seems to want to work together to find a resolution.The two main reasons we host with IST are (1) we don't have the resources internally to focus on the administration of a web server and
(2) we want the extra layer of security and monitoring that campus provides.

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology)

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 10:  Do you think IST should be in the business of providing multi-tier CMS solution support?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) -  Yes.

Tom Holub (LSCR) - If the price were right, we would certainly use it.

Mara Hancock (ETS) - I don't know. I would need to see more use cases and better understand market demand. I think you should be in the business of supporting your end user and it should be expressed that way, rather than the technical way expressed above.

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs) - It would be nice to have IST provide a handful of CMS-type platforms for campus customers -- my nominees would be Drupal, WordPress and a campuswide installation of Hannon Hill's Cascade Server, for which UCOP has negotiated a systemwide discount. But to gain wide use, those tools are going to need to come at only a modest additional cost (or no extra cost, in the case of WordPress, as is the case for many outside webhosts). And especially for Drupal and Cascade Server, there would need to be a consulting/development component available to users that isn't cost-prohibitive.

I don't know that it's cost-effective for IST to offer a broader suite of CMS tools for different types of campus users, particularly given the competitive marketplace of outside hosting companies. What would be appreciated from my perspective would be recommendations of outside vendors, perhaps coupled with an IST-driven relationship with those vendors. I don't think such a relationship is likely to result in better prices for campus users -- we're small potatoes in the vast and competitive stew of web hosting customers. But if it could result in a better support relationship with those vendors, and a smoothing of the interface between outside hosting and berkeley.edu addressing, it would be very helpful.

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) - Hmm, if you go enterprise, then support should come from the provider of the software. In this case, IST could still be very strong about the security side. I think IST security folks should examine the security implications of any CMS brought to campus and provide a service by setting this up with the administrator. For example, it would have been very helpful to be able to go to a trained security professional and ask them analyze how a particular CMS should be configured in the most secure fashion at Berkeley and having them step me through it.

Tom Chow (UNEX) - Yes!

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - CMSs are inherently complex - that's why there are more than 600 of them on the market. Most of them suffer from trying to be all things to all people. It is hard to imagine a single CMS solution that could serve the needs of everyone without becoming a onerous or bloated.

At the same time I recognize that many/most departments don't have the tech skills to build or manage their own CMS, so it's probably a need that wants filling.

I asked for a show of hands at a recent webnet meeting and was amazed to find that more than half of the departments represented didn't have a CMS at all. In 2010. This floored me. Because something is better than nothing, I imagine a lot of departments would be grateful for access to a managed CMS and wouldn't have the complaints with it that I'm sure I would have. But I would also expect the support requirements for it to be very high.

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - Yes, but I also think that the majority of IT operations should be centralized. It's the only way to truly manage costs and protect data.

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology) - Yes, as long as it is affordable.

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

Question 11:  If so, would two offerings; i.e. an open source and enterprise solution suffice?

Will Clipson (Rec Sports) -  Why two? Doesn't this double your support and training costs? Why not one or the other?

Tom Holub (LSCR) - I think that's a false dichotomy; you could certainly use an open source CMS for enterprise web hosting.  I think there needs to be an enterprise dev/qa/prod environment, and a cheap shared hosting environment where users have full control.

Mara Hancock (ETS) - Why do we need two, and why base it on the openness of the code?

Steve McConnell (Public Affairs)

Jason Christopher (Goldman School) - Many CMSes are open source AND enterprise; they offer both. For example, Drupal has both flavors. Of the top open source CMSes, they are all fairly comparable, so for me it came down to cost and security and those factors are still paramount to me.

Tom Chow (UNEX) - 

  • Short term: We will need both a public site for content that can be integrated with secure pages for doing transactions such as credit card processing.   For example, last week I directed someone to you (TAM) who needed help with setting up a web site to collect enrollment fees for webinars.
  • Long term:  Web presence and marketing is balkanized across campus similar to IT.   It would be wonderful if this could be consolidated into IST.   In essence have an IST group that acts as an ad agency for campus. 

Scot Hacker (Journalism) - Not sure I understand the question. Why shouldn't an enterprise solution be open source? I personally feel it's extraordinarily wasteful of taxpayer and tuition money for a public institution like a university to even *consider* using non-open software. The open source world is so rich, mature, and varied. There's something there for everyone.  I really hope the university doesn't go down that particular road.

Christy Hopeman (Cal Alumni) - If everything was truly centralized, one would be sufficient. However, given the obvious, it seems that in order to keep the costs down for IST and still allow for some options, one for each tier of need would be sufficient.

Donna Hendrix (Plant Micro Biology)

Nancy Schimmelman (Summer Sessions)

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