Analysis: Content Provisioning: Synchronized Swimming for Olympic-League Web Sites - InformationWeek

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Analysis: Content Provisioning: Synchronized Swimming for Olympic-League Web Sites

Interwoven Inc. says it offers a more efficient way to deploy content and code across multiple servers in a synchronized and traceable way.

Large, complex, Web site deployment environments are typically hectic, with lots of content, frequent updates and plenty of code flying around in various states of creation, testing and approval. These assets might be posted on a hodgepodge of FTP servers and staging environments, with e-mail and telephone calls herding everything into production. With its announcement today of a content provisioning solution, Interwoven Inc. says it offers a more efficient way to deploy content and code across multiple servers in a synchronized and traceable way.

Interwoven's Content Provisioning Solution is built on its OpenDeploy module, which separates aggregation and deployment from managing tasks, but it also includes the new ControlHub, which provides an approval workflow (with routing, alerts and notifications), version control, rollback and audit trails. Whether a would-be customer is using Interwoven's TeamSite or a competitor's content management system, the solution automates aggregation and delivery while providing a separation between content development and production. This division is usually desired in large-scale deployments and all but mandated by Sarbanes-Oxley and other compliance requirements, according to Interwoven.

London-based HSBC Group has used TeamSite and OpenDeploy since 2000, and the global bank now plans to use the wider Content Provisioning Solution. "We've done a proof of concept with the ControlHub, and we're hoping to implement it worldwide," says David Ruiz, an on-staff consultant with HSBC.com, which incorporates 16 sites for different countries and services including mortgage, credit card, checking, savings and other activities. "We're trying to create a central location where we'll be able to version and deploy the content and code and have a history of all the versions that get deployed."

Coordination is no small task at HSBC. The bank has development centers in the United Kingdom, India and Hong Kong as well as five in North America. The path to production is often circuitous, with content and code passing through multiple development, quality assurance, preproduction and deployment steps. HSBC synchronized delivery with OpenDeploy, but it currently relies on a homegrown reporting solution to keep track of what was deployed, when it was deployed and who deployed it. ControlHub will provide a centralized code and content workflow the bank lacked, replace the homegrown reporting app and minimize compliance risks, says Ruiz.

"Let's say a customer tries to sue us, claiming we advertised a certain rate online," he explains. "ControlHub keeps log files and has a GUI that lets us research and recall exactly what was on the site on a specific date."

The solution's strongest suit is synchronized deployment in multi-server environments, according to Tony Byrne, editor of CMS Watch (www.cmswatch.com), but it also provides a code agnostic delivery tool. "IBM, Merant [now Serena Software Inc.] and Microsoft would likely argue that they have extensions or tools that can do the same thing, but Interwoven can claim to work in heterogeneous [development] environments," he says. "That may, of course, mean relying on ever-beloved 'connectors' to proprietary systems, and large customers should expect to pay Interwoven for professional services to develop new connectors."

Interwoven's Content Provisioning Solution starts at $220,000 and includes one OpenDeploy distribution server, one ControlHub state management server, implementation and training. The company says OpenDeploy server supports unlimited deployments to up to 10 servers running on any platform.

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