The original site was in ATG dynamo environment. The business requirement was to transition it to PHP/Zend framework.
The actual project was a redesign of Informationweekanalytics.com into analytics.informationweek.com by combining the contents of current informatinweekreports.com and informationweekanalytics.com. The objective of the new site was to serve as the source for premium content primarily in PDF format, but also video and other formats/tools/applications. The content would be available free to registered members or for purchase. While the site had no advertising, certain topics and pages were allowed to be sponsored. Pages are co-branded with the logo of sponsor when sponsored, and the sponsors receive leads consisting of business card information of users who download content.
The functional features to develop were as follows:
- Digital Asset Management
- Taxonomy Management
- Sponsorship Management
- Subscriptions (both premium/corporate)
- Discount Coupons
- Recurring Billing with PayPal
- Omniture Report
- Integration with Centralized MDS system
- Download Tracking (tracking each user download into MDS)
Among the contenders for the bid of this project were Cognizant and CEI. Alignity (known then as Spectrasoft) was able to win the bid by its competitive project costing, as well as showing a solid understanding of the project. We put together a very comprehensive technical specification document with our proposal that showed our client, that without a doubt, this was a domain area where we had expertise.
Though Techweb had detailed information on how the solution was to be implemented, as well as corresponding wireframes, we still faced some challenges that gave us the opportunity to explore new dimensions:
- The business requirement or the architectural approach did not define the usage of CAS and MDS in the system, and this resulted in a considerable delay in the follow up with the team handing those APIs and Services. This issue was resolved after the CAS/MDS team developed a few service calls to handle functionality with the users.
- We were not supposed to store any of the user information at the application level. We had to learn most of the php CAS client implementation and MDS API to integrate the Single Sign-On feature and to manage user profiles/information respectively.
- We were supposed to implement the Blog using MT, but as we moved with the development phase, we realized that we could not get the required access to the MT database. In addition, we later had to adjust the resolution of accessing the blog data with the blog feed that was made available at a URL. Despite these challenges, we did successfully manage the Blog module by displaying the latest Blog messages, archives and author profiles. To manage the blog archives we had to write a cron, which was extracting the new blog post (of the current date) to store in the application’s database, so that it could be saved in the archives when past the current date. The Blog Author’s information was managed with the predefined xml format placed at a specific location. Each author was represented with an xml.
We also experienced a few challenges handling few DB configurations with the DB Support System .We first used Zend DB adapter classes for DB transactions, but to resolve the persistent connection pooling issue, we had to change to OCI Adapter.
However, challenges and glitches like these are to be expected in most implementations. Alignity was able to quickly come up with alternate solutions and suggestions to our client to be able to effectively wok through them. Some were solved quickly, whereas others took more time. However, the client knew that the final end result would be positive, since we were detail oriented and methodical in our approach from the start. Alignity believes in a solid foundation for the success of the final implementation.
To avoid any surprises and dissatisfaction from the client, and to ensure confidence in our approach, we followed the below steps:
- Engaged the client and obtained their consent before moving ahead with additional steps throughout the project life cycle.
- For any change that we had to incorporate, we presented our solution to the client and ensured they understood and approved our method before moving forward.
- Bi-weekly status reporting
- Weekly conference calls to discuss the project status
- Additionally, the project status was reported in the phpCollab accessible to the team and client, so the project status was available at any given time to all parties.
Impact and Result:
Below are the steps we took to ensure satisfaction to assure a successful end result in the migration and deployment of the PHP/Zend framework:
- The test bed was given for UAT to all business users. The business users were given considerable time to review the functionality and have it tweaked to their expectations, even if some of these changes may have been considered as change management requests.
- We provided full support to the different support functions at the client end, in making the site live on their production server.
The client was very satisfied, and in turn awarded us with further project phases, showing their full trust in our services. It is now well over a year that we have been working with Techweb since the success of this initial project on various different migration projects.