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Migration from proprietary Microsoft based CMS to Drupal for scalability

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Client Description:

Pathways offers self-paced, user-friendly courses in Jewish practice and thought. These courses differ from textbook learning as they leverage the power of the Internet with dozens of multi-media features like instructional videos, interactive online testing, and an automated glossary. With over 270,000 subscribers and 2.6 million visitors monthly, Aish is one of the largest Judaism websites. Aish selected Powerful CMS to migrate their custom developed Microsoft application to Drupal.

Aish wanted to leverage Open Source to control software costs, use a popular CMS so that it would be easy to find developers and host on a Unix based platform to leverage cloud hosting environments, not be tied to any single vendor and a fast turnaround. Aish had minimal awareness of Drupal, however good in house technical skills to come up to speed, with technical guidance.

Challenge:

Following were the challenges faced in this project:

• Many variations and custom coding in Microsoft ASP code had to be replicated using available Drupal modules

• Migration of data form the data model in Microsoft to Drupal was extremely complex

• Migration to Drupal was driven by the need to scale, and as much coding changes to Drupal core were out of scope for this undertaking

• Train development organization for ongoing support and maintenance of resulting Drupal code

Solution:

Leverage various available Drupal modules to replicate functionality as per current Microsoft implementation and deploy on Joyent hosting, that leverages Open Solaris.  Migrate the contents manually, with various rounds of quality assurance.

Result:

The entire project lasted about two months, through the holiday season of 2008.  The core development took about three weeks with two developers. Data migration into the newly developed structure turned out to stretch the project, as the Microsoft LMS application had  embedded data and HTML based data architecture, making it difficult to extract out elements as into Drupal CCK. So manual data validation had to be done after some scripted attempts to extract the data into Drupal. Overall, the feedback from the Aish team was that Drupal is easy for the end user, easy for the day-to-day maintenance and the learning curve quick for internal developers to come up to speed.

Testimonial:

"Powerful CMS stuck with us and kept their fixed price, even when the time requirements to complete the job ended up being over 4 times more than originally estimated -- there were tons and tons of detail work that required a tremendous amount of time. We learned Drupal fairly well now".

– David LeVine
Technical Director, Aish.com