Moving to Umbraco

Our first workstream in the Digital First Project, to ‘review technical infrastructure, systems and support’, has now completed and we’re making the move to Umbraco as our main content management system.

Having considered the options for the Content Management System (CMS), it was agreed that an open source solution was the most appropriate choice and several possible CMS solutions were considered and evaluated.

Criteria ranged from compatibility with the existing technical platforms and technical strategy of the Council and ease of integration to back-end systems, through to the related active user group community, ease of product use, and the responsive capability of the product. Key was also that the CMS was  “device agnostic”, key in order to deliver the corporate priorities deliverables, channel shift and workforce mobilisation.

We looked also at how flexible a CMS could be around design and both the front-end and content authoring user experience.

Umbraco was selected from this process which is an open-source CMS and will be the tool with which to base the development of the content of the new public website and related microsites and extranets. As other workstreams in Digital First move on we’ll look at whether Umbraco plays a part in other sites as well.

Alongside using Umbraco as the content management system the Council is looking at systems to support transactional delivery. These include products from the Firmstep suite:

  • AchieveForms – an e-forms solution
  • AchieveSelf – for customer accounts
  • AchieveService – customer relationship management module.

The Umbraco CMS is hosted on a new dedicated VMware server based ICT platform situated at both Nottinghamshire County Council data centres.

The Umbraco ICT platform design utilises the VMware technology to ensure service continuity / high availability by constantly replicating the content of the web servers across both sites so that they are always synchronised. They are accessed through a load balancer so that each is accessible and without the need to resort to complex configuration changes should either become inaccessible for any reason.

Service continuity / high availability is further enhanced through SolarWinds monitoring which will automatically notify our support teams of any outages or actions which VMware will have taken to maintain the service thus enabling a quick and appropriate response.

The new platform has both test and production environments and our content authors can draft and publish directly to the web by through status control in the production environment.

Additionally there is a development environment on which to develop and test more major / high impact system changes such as overall the structure of the website.

While workstream one will now be closed down within the project ICT involvement will remain high across the other areas.

Posted by Toni Tedder, Senior Project Manager in ICT Business Change and Engagement.

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We’re pleased to be involved in the Umbraco in Local Government User Group and to be hosting the next meeting of the group. Dates to be confirmed so keep an eye on the blog!

You can find a group on KHub to discuss the use of this CMS in local government (log in required).

LocalGov Digital gathered some comparison information about different CMS in use in local government and you can find this, or add your comments, here.