Fishbowl’s Director of Solutions, Jerry Aber, contributed to this blog post.
Surprisingly, there are still many SiteStudio (Oracle WCM) customers out there using the product for their employee intranet. We just chatted with another one this week, in fact. I say surprisingly because even though the product is technically under support (extended lifetime) until 2019, there are so many advantages and benefits of upgrading a SiteStudio intranet to Oracle WebCenter Portal. Oracle themselves outlined a few in their statement of direction document released back in 2012.
Fishbowl has done numerous WebCenter Portal projects over the last 5 years, and some of those have been SiteStudio to Oracle WebCenter Portal upgrades. We have found for employee intranets specifically that WebCenter Portal is the obvious choice due to its flexibility and how it aggregates content, applications, and data onto a single pane of glass. No more link farms, poorly branded sub-pages, and confusing navigation. If your organization is still using SiteStudio for its intranet, perhaps this blog post will persuade you to upgrade and modernize today.
SiteStudio sites are built on the premise of Templates, Regions, Fragments and Lists with a site design overlaying the top of the structure outlined by its architecture. It did include inline contribution and editing model that helps contributors manage the site with less IT intervention. However, the contribution model wasn’t very streamlined as essentially Word documents were used to structure page content and then converted to HTML. This caused numerous page formatting issues.
Compare this model with WebCenter Portal, enhanced with Fishbowl’s Portal Solution Accelerator to edit text inline of portal pages, and you have a contribution model that is truly optimized for business user contribution. The impact of this is more frequent updates to page content, which keeps employees coming back for new information leading to better engagement.
SiteStudio to WebCenter Portal: Making the Move
As customers consider their employee intranet/portal roadmap and SiteStudio upgrade path, a big concern that comes up frequently is regarding the overall “migration” from a web page-based SiteStudio intranet site to a Portal-based site. There is no natural migration/upgrade roadmap for making this happen as the underlying technologies are considerably different. Additionally, there are two large issues to consider: SiteStudio uses code to render the content, and that the web content is stored in SiteStudio data files.
However, what we’ve found is that WebCenter Portal sites can be created to consume the SiteStudio assets and use the SiteStudio development model by the leveraging what’s called the Content Presenter task flow. This is one way to ensure a tight and clean integration with the Oracle Content Server. This model works nicely when SiteStudio designs and tools are used, but does not translate well to any portal development paradigms. Such paradigms are way more flexible, modular and use current web technology patterns, such as Oracle JET, that not only make the site look nice but keeps it performing at a high-level.
Also, keep in mind this relegates you to sticking with the SiteStudio Data File storage model for your web content which can be a challenge when it comes to managing content and sharing content around the organization.
Here are some other questions you and your organization can ask to determine if upgrading from SiteStudio to Oracle WebCenter Portal makes sense and would be beneficial to your organization. Consider:
- Is sticking with a SiteStudio design and development model future-proofing your platform? Does that help you deliver agile-like project and quickly respond to changing needs?
- Does your development team want to use new web technology frameworks like Oracle JET?
- Does your content need to be shared easily and seamlessly without conversion? Do you want to continue to use Oracle WebCenter Content as your enterprise repository?
- Do you want to provide easier contribution tools for your end users to manage the site better?
- Does your organization have any initiatives around enhancing employee engagement, increasing employee retention, or attracting top talent – with your employee intranet viewed as the vehicle to help drive these initiatives?
If you answered yes to any of the above, the time is right to move from SiteStudio to WebCenter Portal. Only WebCenter Portal can deliver a modern and engaging experience for employee intranets, with mobile first design capabilities and the technology foundation for future portal creation at scale – on premise or in the cloud. It also provides the tightest integration with Oracle WebCenter Content, enabling your organization to centralize its high value content assets into an industry leading enterprise content management system.
WebCenter Portal provides all of this and more. It is a true portal platform that satisfies requests for a better user experience with better performing page loads, and page to page navigation. Furthermore it enables:
- The ability to store content in a manner so that it can be managed and shared easily.
- The use of inline contribution of content features using WYSIWYG capabilities.
- Leveraging newer web technologies such as Oracle Jet, Angular, and others.
- Integrations with Oracle applications such as E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, and Taleo – surfacing up content from these systems directly within the portal.
SiteStudio was a great tool for building websites, but one could argue that it was never intended to be used for building employee portals or intranets. If your organization is looking to do just that, and take its employee intranet to the next level, Oracle WebCenter Portal is the clear choice.