The announcement of the Ektron- EPiServer merger last month sent a ripple through our industry, a bigger ripple through the association marketplace, and a distinct wave over our Ektron customers. Although we are all trying to gauge how our existing investments in Ektron will be impacted by this change, and the best course forward given this new development, I can provide some guidance for those in the process of charting that course.
“First and most importantly we will protect all of our customers investments in our solutions, and whether they are invested in EPiServer or Ektron – we will not retire any product lines." This is perhaps the most essential information that Ektron partners and customers require, and it was provided by James Norwood, Executive Vice President and CMO of EPiServer to all Ektron Partners.
As both an Ektron and EPiServer partner, Brightfind is in a perfect position to continue its support for Ektron clients for years to come. Our staff includes expert Ektron Project Managers, developers, and customer service personnel who work with Ektron projects continuously. Our customer support team manages maintenance projects for our many Ektron clients, and will continue to provide excellent support to those clients for as long as they require. So we feel confident that our Ektron clients will continue to get great value from their Ektron- EPiServer software for quite some time to come.
We can expect much more detail from Ektron- EPiServer in the weeks and months ahead – details that we will convey to our customers – but we can immediately offer this assessment of the specifics:
- Ektron will be supported in its current 9.x form for years to come - both by Brightfind and Ektron- EPiServer.
- Your current Ektron license will remain valid, meaning no additional license fees if/as you move through the next major releases of the combined product. However, fees for any new modules in the upcoming releases (e-commerce for example) will apply.
- Ektron 9.x will have additional patches and updates even prior to the next major version release. Updates will include some additional functionality – which will be defined and announced in the next few weeks/months. I wager that the updates will focus on Inbound Marketing functionality – blog integration, A/B Testing, Calls-to-Action (CTAs), and targeting – as well as enhancements to SolR search integration.
- The next major version release will be based on the EPiServer data and code architecture, with various Ektron-specific functionality merged into that version.
- The Ektron-specific functionality of note that will be merged into the new product are: eSync; Digital Experience Hub (DXH) - their unique integration platform; marketing capabilities (persona management, targeting, Calls To Action, etc.); and responsive design enhancements (image management, responsive framework management, etc.)
- Ektron- EPiServer is planning/working on an upgrade path with significant automation, so that the upgrade is more like a major release of an existing product (like from 8.x to 9.x of Ektron) as opposed to a "transition" from one very unique product to another. We recognize that this particular point is extremely important to our Ektron customers. Brightfind will learn much more about the upgrade process over the next few months, and we promise to share that information with you.
- The EPiServer data and code architecture is well-regarded in the development community (it actually has a better reputation among developers than Ektron, to be honest - although Brightfind has considered Ektron's development environment to be very logical and supportive of our development team and our customers’ needs.
- EPiServer is now trending towards Gartner's upper-right quadrant (which provides industry validation of that platform’s future).
- Brightfind is quickly establishing its proficiency on the EpiServer product, its features, and its development environment to help our customers decide how to best proceed in this changed landscape.
- We are very confident that we can support our Ektron customers' business goals for their websites, including serving their customers' needs providing great user experiences and building extremely flexible marketing platforms - in both its current 9.x incarnation and into its future major new releases.
Ripples and waves can unsettle us, but they keep things moving, a must for online technology. As Norwood assures us, EPiServer ". . . plan[s] to converge the best of both Ektron and EPiServer plus net new features not available in either product today . . . We are not creating a new product that requires a costly migration, and we are not retiring any existing products but we will converge our solutions over time, and we will provide – hand in hand with you, our partners – a route forward for all customers, whether they elect for protect, extend, converge or all three.”