The Problem In-Depth
Over the past two decades, MBC's commitment to advancement has helped solidify its place as the largest media company in the Middle East. After years of struggling with the scalability and architectural shortcomings of its Vignette-run CMS, MBC realized that in order to fulfill current and future content demands, it was time to make a change. "There were lots of challenges in developing and supporting [the Vignette CMS]," says Nadine Samra, projectt manager for MBC. "There was no consistent reliability, difficulty overcoming the initial application design...and a lack of Vignette developers, especially in our region."
Once the decision to replace its CMS platform was made, MBC launched a search for new system provider, and compiled an extensive list of requirements, ranging from technical to business objectives. As Samra explains, "The problems that had been occurring in the previous system were the foundation of these goals. For example, we were looking for a system that has good reliability and scalability, with no problems in those areas." MBC was looking for a system that would "overcome the application design and architecture problems we had in the previous system" and included "good skilled people, good developers, that maintain the system consistently for us later on after we get it in house."
MBC had a lengthy list of editorial requirements as well. "This project is considered large enough because of all the different workflows and scenarios that we have within the system," says Samra. "Fast publishing and a fast process, in this regard, is important for the editors. They are the internal customers-the customers of the system-because they are ultimately the people who are going to use it in order to publish articles to the actual visitors. So for them it is really important to have a system which is easy to use and has a good interface."
In addition to choosing a CMS that satisfied its current content management needs, finding a CMS that would fulfill future requirements was essential to MBC. "We were looking for a system that can stay with us for a long time," says Samra. "Such a project, during implementation, will take a long time, but at the same time, it will live in the company for years to come."
"I was invited in the beginning to make a presentation" at MBC says Pascal Mangold, CEO and co-founder of Magnolia. "There were fourteen people around the table, shooting me questions for around eight hours, with one break for a half an hour." During the eight hours, the MBC team "wanted to see how Magnolia worked, like traditional CMS working. Already during this time they started with questions like, how would you do this with Magnolia, how would you do that with Magnolia."
Though he "walked sideways out of the building in the end," says Mangold, Magnolia's Java-based CMS left a distinct impression on MBC. "There were some things specific to Magnolia that made us really interested in it. One of these things is being open source. Having Magnolia be open-sourced was a very good advantage for it because we counted on its capability to satisfy our future needs, not only our current needs," says Samra.
Once MBC chose Magnolia as its CMS provider, next it had to find a system integrator to implement the product and configure its features. For that, MBC turned to trusted Magnolia partner, Aperto. "Being a good partner of Magnolia, that was probably a driver, and at the same time, having a good product management methodology and being customer oriented were some of the points that made us go towards an integrator like Aperto. Having Aperto in the picture and having them understand our needs and supporting us to accomplish our goal was very important," explains Samra.
Aperto and Magnolia's close partnership paid off right from the start. "We started to work with Magnolia from the very beginning because we needed to estimate the hardware requirements and our technical architectural approaches," says Maurice Baldé, senior project manager for Aperto. "For us, being in such a close relationship with them as a product development company, we can easily just give them a call and email them and talk to them about certain approaches, what they think as the project owners of Magnolia."
With a thick book of MBC requirements in its possession, Aperto began customizing Magnolia's CMS. Luckily, as Baldé says, "Magnolia can easily be adjusted or customized or extended according to the client's needs, and that is basically what we did for MBC."