Is This the End of the Road for Ektron? The Future Does Not Look So Bright
Accel-KKR’s plans for the Ektron/EPiServer acquisitions have finally become apparent. Rather unsurprisingly, Tuesday’s press release announced the official ‘merger’ of the two companies and their products.
In short, EPiServer will continue to exist whilst Ektron is soon to be a thing of the past. Of course, the common rhetoric is that both products will continue to be supported and that by joining forces they’ll become a super-CMS that will take the market by storm. However, as all those who work in and understand the CMS space know, this is technologically unfeasible and the more likely outcome is that EPiServer will look to provide minimal ongoing support for the existing Ektron client base (in exchange for ongoing maintenance revenue and increased market share) whilst they figure out how to persuade these clients to migrate to the EPiServer platform.
A huge staff cull is already taking place at Ektron and only a skeletal management team has remained. The majority of the new ‘Executive Team’ are from EPiServer, which does not come as a surprise when you consider the fact that Accel-KKR spent roughly three times as much acquiring EPiServer as they did Ektron. However, this new management structure is one positive factor in this turmoil, bearing in mind that there have been several major senior management overhauls at Ektron over the past few years resulting in a lack of focus and a team that does not truly understand the heritage of the Ektron product. The departure of Bill Rogers and much of the Nashua-based Engineering team further suggests that there is no real hope for Ektron’s CMS400.net in the future.
So, what does this mean for existing Ektron clients?
The merger is likely to cause a lot more concern for the Ektron client base than that of EPiServer. Assuming that there will be no real attempt to integrate the two products, there is every chance that EPiServer will continue to evolve in a positive direction. For Ektron, it seems, it will be the end of the road as, although EPiServer will have to provide support for the existing Ektron platform for at least a year or two in order to fulfil their existing contractual obligations, this support is likely to be limited and reactive in nature rather than proactive.
Of course, this assumption is in contradiction with Ektron’s press release (perhaps aimed more at damage control than true transparency) in which it claims that:
The merger will benefit and protect the investments customers and partners have made in both product sets; provide more options to extend the value of those investments; and converge the best of both offerings into a next-generation Digital Experience Cloud that offers advanced web content management, multi-channel marketing, extensive connectivity, and e-commerce capabilities all on a single platform in the cloud.
As an agency that has delivered more Ektron projects than any other in Europe and with a number of contacts within Ektron, Green River Media anticipated this turn of events about a year ago. We therefore made significant investments into further developing partnerships with alternative CMS vendors who we, along with industry analysts, believe are currently the dominant and most promising players, such as Sitecore and Kentico.
Although Ektron’s clients should prepare to jump the sinking ship, this should equally not be a panicked, knee-jerk reaction to recent revelations. As long as clients currently have a ‘stable’ implementation of the CMS and no outstanding technical support requirements, there is no need to start an immediate migration to an alternative platform. This is a process that should never be rushed and extensive due diligence needs to take place in order to identify the right platform, as well as the right company behind that platform.
With this in mind, the existing Ektron client base should start to re-evaluate their CMS strategy moving forward with an aim to migrate to a different platform within the next 1-2 years. They should stay away from any ‘new versions’ that may or may not be released as this is likely to cause significant problems and it is good practice is to always stay one version behind due to Ektron’s track record of instability with new releases. Finally, a level of scepticism is advised when reading future communications from Ektron or EPiServer particularly as recent publications have perhaps not been entirely truthful.