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New York Unveils Redesigned Website [Nov. 12, 2014]

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014
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Wall Street Journal

New York state has revamped its long-outdated website, ny.gov, with an emphasis on color, big numbers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Last year, ny.gov and the governor’s website had 7 million page views, officials say. About 20% of traffic to the sites were through mobile devices. But the old site hadn’t been updated in 15 years and featured a drab dark navy background and overly-long menus for visitors to comb through.

The Cuomo administration appointed Rachel Haot as deputy secretary of technology in January, with the task of redesigning the neglected website and modernizing government access to state services. Ms. Haot had team of more than 100 people working on the website redesign over 10 months, she said.

The new ny.gov is an open source website that uses Drupal software and an Acquia cloud host, officials said. Code and Theory, a digital design agency that has led projects for Dr Pepper and Vogue, was a partner in the design, among others.

The guiding principle of the new ny.gov was to “put people first,” Ms. Haot said on Wednesday, shortly before the site’s launch at noon. “Customer service is our primary goal.”

The new site utilizes responsive web design; no matter the size of the screen, the page’s content adjusts to the size of the screen to make it mobile-friendly.

With the old site, Ms. Haot said, “there wasn’t really a clear direction to the user, ‘here is where you start.’ Everything kind of competed for your attention without actually giving you a clear options for where to move forward.”

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Spotting their Opening: Feds' Online Revamp Pits Drupal Against Proprietary Software Giants [Oct 27, 2014]

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Monday, October 27, 2014
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Ottawa Technology

As originally published in Ottawa Technology

By Adam Feibel

A massive revamp of the federal government’s online presence is expected to pit proprietary software giants against a growing number of open-source competitors.

The Government of Canada is currently under construction — or at least, its website is.

Last year, in an effort to consolidate the more than 1,500 federally owned URLs spanning some 100 departments, the Treasury Board announced it would be revamping the government’s web presence by limiting and standardizing the platforms and tools used to power its websites.

Now, we have Canada.ca – but not completely. The government debuted a prototype of the new website last December. With only a small percentage of its web pages moved over to the new address, it’s really a teaser of what’s to come. Most links still lead to existing departmental pages, but the point is to eventually eliminate the multitudinous gc.ca addresses and instead nestle them all under Canada.ca over the next four years.

First, they’ll have to pick a content management system (CMS) provider to carry out the task.

The government put out a request for information on Aug. 1 to gather information about what potential suppliers are able and unable to provide, whether there’s anything the government missed in its plan and whether companies would respond to a future request for proposals (RFP).

Multiple vendors responded to the request for information, and the department is now in the process of aggregating and analyzing it ahead of a full RFP, expected to come in the next few months.

The process is expected to draw proposals from tech giants such as Adobe and Oracle, but several smaller companies operating on an open-source content management platform called Drupal are hoping they can undercut the proprietary bidders.

FOREIGN ADOPTION
Unlike proprietary software, which is created and developed by a limited and relatively small team of programmers, open-source software is redistributed and constantly improved upon by a vast community of programmers who use the software under a free license.

Drupal is an open-source framework used as the back- end for roughly seven per cent of websites worldwide (the third most popular behind WordPress and Joomla), according to Open Source CMS.

It’s also become the CMS of choice for many of the world’s government organizations, powering the websites of the White House, the Government of Ontario, the City of Ottawa, and a smattering of outgoing gc.ca addresses.

“It’s hard today to argue that Drupal is not the de facto standard worldwide for government websites,” said Mathieu Weber, the Canadian director of Acquia, a Drupal software-as-a-service provider.

In September, the Australian government announced that it had chosen Acquia to handle a consolidation process very similar to Canada’s current project. The United Kingdom also went open source in 2012 with the consolidated gov.uk website.

Those in the local open-source sector have their fingers crossed that the Canadian federal government will officially join the Drupal ranks.

“If it’s not enough that it’s free, and ( that) it’s more leading- edge than proprietary, then at least we can say that all our neighbours are doing it,” said Chris Smith, chief executive officer of OPIN, an Ottawa-based enterprise content management systems provider that Mr. Smith said partnered with “one of the larger system integrators” and a support company to respond to the RFI this summer.

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
When the federal Treasury Board announced the government’s web consolidation plans last year, Acquia said it was prepared to lead the opensource community when the government asked for proposals.

Acquia submitted a response to the RFI, provided input on a draft RFP, and “remains actively involved with the national Drupal community in anticipation of the final RFP,” said Mr. Weber.

The Massachusetts-based company hasn’t been banging on Canada’s door every day, but the company has been steadily pushing Drupal locally and internationally.

“Acquia has invested selectively in a handful of markets where there’s a huge opportunity to leapfrog,” said Mr. Weber. “Canada is one of those countries.”

There are about a half- dozen Drupal-based companies in Ottawa alone. The community is strong, with regularly occurring events such as the annual DrupalCamp Ottawa, largely sponsored by Acquia, and the monthly DrupalYOW meetups.

Programmers cite a number of benefits, and some drawbacks, of running on Drupal and other open-source software. One of the main advantages is that problems have an easy fix, according to Steven Muegge, a professor with Carleton University’s technology innovation management program.

“All software has defects when it’s first written,” said Mr. Muegge. “When the source is available, it’s easier to detect those defects and do something about them. Others from the community can propose patches to correct those, and they get fixed faster.”

Open-source systems also mean there’s less lock-in to any particular vendor, he said. Mr. Weber added that a Drupal-based solution is “bar none the most secure and has the most eyes watching it,” to help avoid government web security crises. Perhaps above all else is the cost savings and local economy boost that come with open source.

“As a taxpayer, I very much want my government to be building systems on top of open source software,” said Mr. Muegge. “I believe it’s good for economic development, it opens the business up to smaller companies and entrepreneurs, and that’s a very important source for innovation in our economy.”

PROPRIETARY PULL
Drupal detractors tend to cite a steep learning curve, a lack of “backward compatibility” – the ability of a modern system to read files generated by its predecessors – and some potential usability headaches dependent upon one’s needs and specs, such as memory usage and coding type.

Those in favour of proprietary CMS argue that developers and managers whose jobs and revenues depend on the program are more accountable than open-source users in terms of consumer satisfaction, and that an open source CMS isn’t as worry-free as its proponents claim.

Shawn Cruise, vice-president of Adobe Systems Canada’s public sector, said in an e-mailed statement that “organizations should choose the technology that best fits their specific needs,” and that its proprietary CMS solution offers “the best choice for customers in both public and private sectors for web experience management, helping them control costs while keeping focus on their core business and mission.” Adobe did not indicate whether the company would be submitting a proposal for Canada.ca.

Asked whether Public Works and Government Services Canada, the contracting authority for the RFP, will be looking into an open source framework for the new website, a spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement that the Government of Canada will “consider all viable options.” The government won’t divulge information about vendors, but sources say both open-source and proprietary providers have responded to the request for information.
According to open-source developers, the future at Canada.ca looks good for them.

“The odds are pretty high, based on the way that other governments have realized the cost benefit,” said Mr. Smith. “I think if our government were to choose proprietary, it would be a surprise.”

La bêta de Drupal 8 est disponible sur Acquia Cloud Free [15 Octobre 2014]

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014
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Acquia, fournisseur de solutions et services dédiés à Drupal, annonce aujourd’hui la disponibilité d’une installation en un seul clic de la version bêta de Drupal 8 sur Acquia Cloud Free, sa plateforme gratuite de développement Drupal. Acquia Cloud Free offre une boite à outils complète conçue pour accélérer et simplifier le staging de code et de contenu via un workflow robuste.

Drupal 8 a été complètement réécrit en ajoutant un nouveau cadre orienté objet pour simplifier le développement. Fruit des efforts d’une communauté comptant quelques 2300 contributeurs, Drupal 8 apporte des améliorations majeures à l’expérience de création de contenu, des possibilités de développement depuis un terminal mobile et des fonctionnalités multilingues.
(Paru dans Programmez.com)

La bêta de Drupal 8 disponible sur Acquia Cloud Free [14 Octobre 2014]

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014
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La dernière version du CMS Open Source Drupal peut être testée en mode bêta dans la sandbox hébergée sur la plateforme cloud d'Acquia.

Acquia, la société fondée par le créateur de Drupal, vient d'annoncer que la version 8 du CMS Open Source était disponible sur Acquia Cloud Free, l'environnement de développement et de test gratuit qu'elle propose depuis un an sur sa plateforme Acquia Cloud. La solution Open Source de gestion de contenus web a été entièrement réécrite. Elle présente maintenant une architecture PHP orientée objet qui simplifie le développement, explique la société.
(Article paru dans LeMondeInformatique.fr)

Drupal’s CMS Powers Travel and Airport Websites [Oct. 20, 2014]

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Monday, October 20, 2014
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What's Your Tech

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Drupal’s free and open-source content management framework powers 2.1 per cent of all websites and is also making its mark in the travel industry. While 2.1 per cent of the web, or roughly 1,015,000 sites, may seem like a very tiny slice of total global websites, Drupal’s trusted and secure back-end framework as well as its rock-solid PHP codebase has made it the de facto choice of websites that need the optimum in security in stability.

WhiteHouse.gov and data.gov.uk are just some of the high-profile websites that have placed their trust in Drupal and this is catching on with travel and airport websites that require rock-solid stability as well as a high-degree of customization.

Drupal runs on any computing platform that supports both a Web server capable of running PHP (including Apache, IIS, Lighttpd, Hiawatha, Cherokee or Nginx) and a database (such as MySQL, MongoDB, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, SQLite, or Microsoft SQL Server) to store content and settings. Drupal has an installed base of 30,000 developers and a thriving user-supported community.

It is a viable option for companies moving away from costly and convoluted proprietary CMS (Content Management System) into something that’s way more flexible and easy to deploy and manage. Flight Centre and Aéroports de Montreal both invested in Drupal to facilitate their massive database driven and connected systems which rely on split second processes and a high-degree of accuracy and reliability for managing vast airline, flight and traveller information.

Aéroports de Montréal serves an average of 14 million passengers yearly coming in and out of Montreal through its two international airports, Montréal–Trudeau and Montréal-Mirabel.

But when it came to welcoming and guiding visitors through the world-class city, the airport’s website was sorely lacking and didn’t show travelers all that was available to them, beginning at the airport.

The existing site’s performance was unreliable, with frequent outages during high-traffic events like snowstorms – when passengers most needed up-to-date travel information. The user experience was unintuitive and limited, and mobile access was stymied by outdated infrastructure. And the legacy CMS and unreliable host prevented developers from managing content as efficiently as they could.

Using the flexibility of Drupal, Nurun, a global consultancy firm, and Acquia, a leading software-as-a-service company, were able to help Aéroports de Montréal build a site that better connects passengers with the airport – and with the entire city of Montreal.

Offering more engaging experiences that cut down the stress of preparing for travel – from commerce to real-time flight information – travelers can now connect seamlessly with all the content they need from the airport. Passengers can access security procedure information, interactive maps, parking details and more from any browser, including mobile devices.

Dries Buytaert Named to Boston Business Journal's 40 Under 40 [Oct. 17, 2014]

Submitted on
Friday, October 17, 2014
,
Boston Business Journal

Dries Buytaert is a passionate believer in what he calls "the open-source way."

For Buytaert, the co-founder and CTO of Acquia in Burlington, and president of the Drupal Foundation — meant to expand use of the open-source platform he began to create at the age of 19 — the ripple effects of embracing open collaboration go well beyond business and government applications of technology.

"The collaboration of open-source communities has the power to raise the bar for all participants," said Buytaert. "The innovation that's generated by contributors can be widely shared and enjoyed, particularly for those who would otherwise be at a disadvantage. With Drupal, the same technology that's powering customer experiences for Global 2000 organizations is readily available for the next great startup. And emerging nations benefit from the innovation of more than 130 countries that use Drupal for their government sites."

WhiteHouse.gov and many of the busiest government websites globally have been built on the Drupal platform, and Buytaert's evangelism has led thousands of developers worldwide to help create new ways of managing and displaying content using the technology. Currently, he's helping to steer work on Drupal 8, which will leverage new technologies for mobile data display and other updates to "set a new standard for ease of use."

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Are Employee Non-competes Obsolete? [Oct. 9, 2014]

Submitted on
Thursday, October 9, 2014
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Fast Company

By Gwen Moran

These once-ubiquitous agreements may be hurting both companies and employees more than they're helping. Here's what works instead.

Thomas Erickson had never really given much thought to employee non-compete agreements.

But recently, the CEO of the Burlington, Massachusetts-based software company Acquia, Inc., says he's been getting some push-back from new hires who weren’t happy signing contracts that restrict them from working for competitors or within the same industry after they leave their jobs.

After a few conversations with his human resources department, Erickson spoke with his executive team and abolished employee non-competes at the company for all but a few senior executives. Out of Acquia’s more than 500 employees, roughly five or six are still bound by their non-compete agreements, he says.

At the same time, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was challenging longstanding non-compete legislation in the state. In late July 2014, after heated debate, the Massachusetts legislature failed to pass new legislation vastly limiting these agreements. But Erickson and groups like the New England Venture Capital Association are still trying to make the case that they’re obsolete and bad for business.

“There are cases where technical teams have worked for very poorly-run companies, going the wrong direction. They build up a lifetime of expertise, but when they leave the company, they’ve been prevented from using that expertise and have to change their line of work and take salary cuts,” Erickson says.

ARE EMPLOYEE NONCOMPETES OBSOLETE?
While Governor Patrick’s push to ban most non-competes grabbed headlines, there isn’t exactly a national rush to get rid of them. California bans non-compete agreements, except in some very specific circumstances. A handful of states, such as Florida, Virginia, and Washington, specifically prohibit overly broad non-competes.

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Phase2 Launches Open Public 1.0 to Advance Digital Government Initiatives [Sept. 29, 2014]

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Monday, September 29, 2014
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Phase2

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — September 29, 2014 — Phase2, a digital technology agency delivering integrated web products for content management, collaboration and interactive experiences across the public, private and non-profit sectors, is launching OpenPublic 1.0, a Drupal-based content management system (CMS) tailored to open government initiatives. An evolved approach to open source CMS, OpenPublic 1.0 packages government-focused functionality in a secure, intuitive App-based Drupal distribution. Phase2 is partnering with Acquia to deliver a secure, cloud development platform for OpenPublic packages.

OpenPublic 1.0 breaks the mold of government CMS by encapsulating all functionality in a clean collection of Apps, simplifying all of the distribution’s powerful out-of-the-box functionality. By using Acquia’s open cloud platform, OpenPublic enables US government agencies to achieve and sustain compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

“Technologies like Drupal have enabled governments to become more open by sharing greater volumes of content online. The next step is to utilize it to spur citizen engagement and provide improved digital experiences.” said Jeff Walpole, CEO of Phase2. “OpenPublic 1.0 is an excellent example of an open source solution that facilitates this engagement without compromising security, accessibility, and flexibility.”

OpenPublic was specifically designed to easily and efficiently deploy a web presence across multiple agency sites. San Mateo County, for example, uses OpenPublic to support a streamlined platform of more than twenty departmental websites, each with different content needs and functionality requirements. Flexibility and administrative control is crucial.

“OpenPublic allowed the County to maintain a strong central brand while meeting user demand for autonomy and flexibility,” said Beverly Thames, Content and Collaboration Manager for San Mateo County. “County leadership could only be convinced to adopt open source if they were assured the system was secure and accessible, OpenPublic delivered both.”

“Open source, community-driven solutions like OpenPublic are leading the way to government transparency,” said Dries Buytaert, CTO of Acquia and creator of Drupal. “They help agencies and organizations improve efficiency and increase sharing of information while making government content more accessible.”

Since 2011, multiple government agencies and public sector organizations, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Wilson Center, the Georgia Technology Authority and San Mateo County, Calif., have successfully used OpenPublic to drive digital outcomes and increase civic engagement. OpenPublic 1.0 reflects the advancement and maturity of the product to a full 1.0 release.

The OpenPublic distribution can be downloaded at https://drupal.org/project/openpublic.

About Phase2
Phase2 is one of the most trusted digital agencies focused on open technology. Organizations like the Department of Energy, Red Hat, Harvard Business School, NBCUniversal and the Robin Hood Foundation use Phase2’s integrated web products and systems to transform the way their users experience content and their teams work together. Founded in 2001, Phase2 designs and builds the world’s most powerful content systems, collaboration solutions, and interactive experiences. Phase2 is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, and has offices in New York, San Francisco, and Portland. For more about Phase2, visit http://www.phase2technology.com.

About Acquia
Acquia is the digital business company. The Bay Area Rapid Transit District, the State of Georgia, Pinterest and Stanford University are among the more than 4,000 organizations that are transforming their digital businesses with Acquia’s open platform for integrated digital experiences. Global 2000 enterprises, government agencies and NGOs rely on Acquia to create new revenue streams, lower costs, and engage audiences more deeply through content, community, commerce and context.

For more information visit www.acquia.com or call +1 781 238 8600.

How Acquia Brought Drupal to the Enterprise [Sept. 18, 2014]

Submitted on
Thursday, September 18, 2014
,
TechRepublic

Dries Buytaert built what would become the open source software Drupal in his dorm room at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. What started as an experiment to build an intranet message board for his friends eventually turned into the open source software behind Drupal, and launched in 2001.

Drupal quickly grew, now boasts more than one million participants in its open source community online. In addition to a spike in individual users, Buytaert began to see an uptick in Drupal adoption by big businesses and large nonprofit organizations.

While working on his research dissertation, Buytaert began providing support to companies that had adopted the Drupal software. He recalled one particular evening when, after he was approached by a company in the UK for help, he spent the entire night working to resolve the issues it was having.

"That was my ah-ha moment," Buytaert said. "I realized there was a big opportunity to help organizations accelerate their adoption of Drupal and be successful."

Buytaert founded Acquia with Jay Batson in 2007 after the pair were introduced by Michael Skok, a partner at North Bridge Venture Networks. Acquia provides enterprise products, services, and support for Drupal, with the goal of accelerating Drupal adoption among enterprise users. Currently, Acquia works with brands such as Pinterest, Mercedes Benz, Warner Music Group, and Stanford University.

Along with businesses and nonprofits, governmental sites now run on Drupal too. The official White House site has a Drupal initiative, and Acquia published a case study on data.gov.uk, an open data project started by the UK government.

While some enterprises are hesitant to embrace open source, Buytaert believes that the collaborative software development it provides is what has kept Acquia innovative. His hope is that Acquia can be a role model for entrepreneurs with similar aspirations.

The product set
Acquia's product set aims help enterprises successfully use Drupal. The company's offerings begin with Acquia Cloud, the company's platform-as-a-service that provides cloud solutions and development tools. Buytaert said that it includes pre-built testing solutions, an API for creating custom tests, and a tool called Acquia Insight.

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Dont Skip the Proof of Concept [Sept. 17, 2014]

Submitted on
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
,
CMSWire

By Tom Wentworth

Generally speaking, the larger the purchase, the more time and research we put into the decision before shelling out our hard-earned bucks. You don’t buy a car without test driving it, or a new couch without sitting on it. You probably don’t even buy shoes without walking around in them first.
Unfortunately, sometimes major technology purchases go unvetted and buyer’s remorse sets in hard, evident in the state of Oregon’s recent lawsuit against Oracle for the failed deployment of its Cover Oregon healthcare exchange website.

This case reflects a dated IT evaluation process that’s all too common: businesses buying software based on RFPs and product demos, while failing to make vendors go through a proof-of-concept process. It’s a huge mistake that’s very easy to avoid.

Product Demos Aren’t Everything
Businesses generally buy software in a six-step process:

  • ID the software requirements
  • Create an RFP
  • Send the RFP to vendors you want to evaluate
  • Narrow the vendors list down based on their responses to the RFP
  • Watch product demos from the shortlisted vendors
  • Pick one vendor.

Pretty straightforward, right?
But this widely used process fails to answer one key question: how will the software actually perform in real life?
Sure, demos are important — they showcase the product in the best light and, if a demo goes poorly, it’s a major red flag. But many organizations overvalue them when making their software selections, often building a strong emotional connection to the product due to a flashy presentation, appealing color scheme or familiar UI. Is it any surprise that in the Cover Oregon case, the demo went wonderfully? It’s supposed to: it was designed specifically for that presentation but had not been battle-tested for real-world deployment.

Demos are examples of best-case scenarios, beautifully designed with feature-rich, highly controlled environments meant to sell you. They are NOT perfect examples of what your version of the software will look like when it’s deployed. For that you need to take the final but most important step in the buying process, adding a proof-of-concept (POC).

The Proof of Concept Phase
You’ve seen the demo and it looks great. Maybe you’re smitten and ready to buy. But wait! Before you pull the trigger, you need to see how the software will work against your specific use cases and in an environment similar to yours. You need a POC.

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