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Alfresco & The Christian Science Monitor

Question asked by rdanner on Jun 16, 2007
Latest reply on Mar 5, 2010 by yoarete
The CS Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor is a secular international publication founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy (Founder of Christian Science)

Publishes daily Sunday through Thursday with updates to the web on Friday, Saturday and during breaking events. 

7 Pulitzer prizes

Widely known for thoughtful, objective analysis of world events.

Areas of Content Management
We are working our way through a program (series of projects) with the objective of updating our processes and the technology that supports them to enable us better reach and engage our readers.
Publishing / Editorial production
                        Editorial Content
                        Facts, background, and other related information

            Product Production
                        Web and other electronic formats
                        Print products

            Content Management
                        Short term refactoring of CS Monitor content management
                        Long term approach to enterprise content management

            Website Management
                        Management of site page structure
                        Page components (Applications)
                        Templates, Layout, and Themes

            Content Delivery
Web Site and other Web based and electronic delivery

Benefits from using Alfresco
Alfresco is a longer term play for our organization.  Initial benefits are a result of the modularity of the workflow capabilities. We have been in the process of replacing our systems with an open source and standards based solutions (product set includes proprietary products as well)  for some time.  The process is iterative.  We take one piece or a few small related pieces at a time from the legacy system and move it/them into or around Alfresco.  Drop Folders and the CIFS capability have been very useful throughout the process.

Issues / Challenges
Hmmm where to start – Just Kidding!  :)

We're still learning how to best use/get the most out of the software.  That has been our #1 challenge with any component of our systems: MySQL, JBOSS, LIFERAY, ALFRESCO. 

- Running the platform headless would be nice. (we actually do so but we are cheating)
- Extending the software by putting components in the classpath inside the war (exploded), repackaging alfresco, or in the shared folder (common classloader) are sub-optimal.
- ThreadLocals are evil but often necessary – they make life hard for things like RMI, and are something of a hack. enough said.
- Some of the features we need/ed have or are just arriving.  It's a challenge and a risk you take on when managing software gap, we're doing pretty well with it, we could do a lot better.

Why you chose Alfresco
The Alfresco product has great architecture.  We came across Alfresco very early on during a project for another business unit.  It was very early for Alfresco and the product but we could see where things were headed.  Alfresco has strong integration points and seems to focus on the core capabilities of content management rather than building the universe (the context).  A good example is the integration capability with BPM engines. context to Alfresco, invented elsewhere. Check the code, you'll see!

Alfresco isn't Drupal We saw many CMS and portal solutions that want to tightly couple CM and the web engine together.  While it's possible to run Alfresco in that configuration, it's also possible not to.  That's huge.  Web is only one of the many ways we want to use our content. Alfresco can be used for small sites, but under the hood it's an enterprise class system that addresses enterprise wide concerns that are not addressed by many of the other open source solutions.

The Alfresco product future is bright I keep a pretty close eye on the roadmap.  The product has a good vision.  Some of the stuff is pretty green fields and when it hits the internet in a "ready for prime time" state I think it's going to create a real gap between Alfresco an many of the existing open source CMS solutions.   

The Alfresco team is strong.  Without "kissing up" here – it's worth mentioning that we see a lot of value in the talent and experience behind Alfresco. 

Alfresco is Open Source We don't have any open source mandates in our organization. That said, we are looking for companies that will partner with us; companies that are interested in a bi-directional relationship.  We find this more often in open source and thus it is natural for us to look there first.

Technical details – hardware, operating system, cpu, ram, database, web server, sizing details

On the production side:
We run 1 DELL 2850 with Redhat Linux, MySQL, Tomcat, and Alfresco 2.x
Currently the setup only supports the Monitor production.
We plan to upgrade this to a high availability Alfresco solution that supports the rest of the enterprise. (Our program is a series of iterations)

On the delivery side
We run a headless Alfresco under each node (Dell 1850) basically as an xml repository.  The stack is Redhat Linux, MySQL, JBoss, Alfresco, and Liferay.

I'd like to give more detail here and I am sure I will be back to share more but I need to clear some of or documentation before I do. 

The point in/motive behind sharing is simple:  The CS Monitor competes with content, not directly with it's core infrastructure. We do view our infrastructure as a strategic asset, just not a secret weapon; thus, the act of sharing and comparing is itself, strategic.  I hope you see it this way as well and will be willing to share the basic details of your system with us and the rest of the community. :P