As cloud computing matures and evolves, almost everything IT-related is a target for “as a Service” delivery, from the most basic file store to the most complex business process. This certainly includes web publishing, web content management, and web-based service delivery – all of which form part of a business process that could be called a web publishing supply chain, or possibly a “web interaction ecosystem.”
The processes would include (as a minimum):
- Design processes for establishing the website form and structure;
- Development processes for contents and transactions;
- Testing processes for assuring website correctness, performance and quality;
- Life cycle content creation, editing and management processes; and
- Operations, administration and security processes for “aaS” websites.
Each part of the ecosystem could be implemented as independent applications, or they could all be integrated into a single ecosystem.
Web content could be completely delivered as a single service (i.e., be supplied by a single service provider) or it could be a set of “mix and match” in-house and provider capabilities.
For example, a customer-owned content management application could be hosted using IaaS while web publishing uses a fully-hosted public SaaS system. One of the challenges are to know what all the components of the ecosystem are and to ensure they work together seamlessly.
Web Publishing as a Service (WPaaS) – the outsourcing of the entire business activity – would be the preferred approach for many organizations. The basic elements of a WPaaS solution are:
Web Publishing Business Process Policies
|Web Content (creation, organization, presentation) as a Service|
|Web Publishing Tools (creation, editing, managing, searching, etc.) as a Service|
|Web Publishing Platform(s) as a Service|
|Infrastructure (compute, storage, interconnection) as a Service|
Physical Facilities as a Service
Three of the critical WPaaS processes are:
- Web environment creation and instantiation: Provides the tools to develop the structures, page organization and integrations for publishable content (e.g., WordPress themes);
- Content management: Provides the tools needed to design, develop, edit, manage and delete the “variable” contents of the website throughout its life cycle; and
- Content publishing: Provides the operational environment(s) and tools for testing, publishing, monitoring and managing the content on the website.
One example of open source software that provides many of the functions for WPaaS is Drupal. As the Drupal web site states, it provides users “with the tools they need to make their own content management solution, while still providing some pre-built components to help them get started. Thus, it can be described both as a content management system (CMS) and a content management framework (CMF) – one system that strives to have the strengths of both, without their deficiencies.”
“Drupal is a framework for building dynamic web sites offering a broad range of features and services including user administration, publishing workflow, discussion capabilities, news aggregation, metadata functionalities using controlled vocabularies and XML publishing for content sharing purposes. A Drupal installation is generally comprised of a mix of core and contributed modules.”
Creation of a “whole product” around Drupal is the mission of companies such as Acquia Inc. Acquia is a software-as-a-service company from Boston that provides products, services, and technical support for Drupal. They provide a range of services such as robust, optimized Drupal platform hosting, development tools and technical support.
Drupal has gained a foothold in public sector organizations. According to Todd Akers of Acquia:
“In the last few years, governments across Canada have turned to flexible open source solutions. Open source software is freely distributed, and its open codebase provides an engine for innovation, as any developer can create improvements and share their work back with the larger community of users.
Municipalities like St. John’, Nfld., and Ottawa are using the Drupal open source platform to provide government services online with greater speed and flexibility. Ottawa moved to Drupal in November 2012, introducing a responsive design that enables an optimal experience across mobile devices, tablets and desktops.
Use of Drupal has increased dramatically among provinces and federally, particularly in light of the Open Government Strategy, which encourages federal departments to adopt solutions that promote open information, open data and open government. Open source apps are enabling people to explore the wild, get updated train arrival times, access government research and publications, and bid on government contracts.”
In September, Acquia was chosen as a result of an RFP from the Australian Government for govCMS, its Government Web Content Management System. They state that govCMS will help agencies decrease costs and increase their agility as they better engage citizens with government services. The Department of Finance selected Acquia to provide an open cloud platform for the development and continuous delivery of its Drupal-based govCMS service.
You can read more about it here.