Here at Perceptive Flow our preferred Content Management System (CMS) is Umbraco, an open source platform trusted by businesses of all sizes across the world. Umbraco is often a CMS that clients haven’t heard of when we first mention it to them (although it is becoming more and more well-known) but when we show it to them they love its user-friendly interface and publishing features.
There are many reasons why we love Umbraco (worthy of its own post!), but a new product recently released by Umbraco has been a game changer, Umbraco as a Service, and we’re excited to share our experiences with it.
Open source Umbraco is just over 10 years old, with the first open release on February 16th, 2005. Since then it has quickly grown to become one of the most popular Content Management Systems on the Microsoft .NET platform, trusted by large brands such as Carlsberg, Heinz, and even the official Microsoft website. At the heart of Umbraco is its community, now consisting of over 200,000 people sharing their knowledge and contributing to the software.
It’s quite likely you’re already using cloud services yourself, or visit a cloud-based platform every day, including Google Apps, Office365, Dropbox to name a few. The days of installing software via a CD locally, or requiring local servers and infrastructure are disappearing rapidly, and the market is only expected to grow. Worldwide spending on public cloud services is predicted to increase 20% annually, reaching over £100 billion in 2019.
Microsoft, in particular, have their Azure platform, that allows developers to quickly deploy their apps to the web, and automatically scale them as demands require. Morgan Stanley has even predicted Microsoft's cloud offerings will make up 30% of its revenues soon.
In June, Umbraco officially unveiled Umbraco as a Service (UaaS), on the Azure platform. You have probably come across other managed hosting offerings, however, unlike others, Umbraco set out to deliver something far beyond the simple act of hosting.
Website projects traditionally involve a number of manual tasks; for administration, setup, and deployment. It’s estimated that around 12% of developers time is spent on these routine administrative tasks, which could be automated.
What makes Umbraco as a Service really stand out is its collection of nimble features that address this problem. In their own words is allows us to “focus on creating delightful experiences rather than working on installing, upgrading, and deploying”.
We’ve been using it for a few months now and here are some of the specific features we love the most and why you will love UaaS too:
UaaS takes care of synchronising all of your sites code, content, and media. We can develop new features locally, and after testing them, deploy directly to your live site. Meanwhile, your editors can continue to make content changes, and the new features are merged seamlessly.
This removes the need to make manual copies of the site during development, and stops practices such as pausing content updates whilst the site is changed to ensure content is not lost. This dramatically reduces development time, meaning we can pass this saving onto you. Win win.
Copies of your website can be created/removed on the fly. This allows us to easily demonstrate work in progress with you for a new website, or to create a staging version for an existing one so you can approve new features or content before they go live.
These environments also simplify the process of multiple developers working on the same site. Each developer has their own local copy of the site, and their work is synchronised to the staging site when ready.
Sites are also backed by Git repositories so each developer has their own commit history. For those not familiar with Git, this essentially means that the entire history of website code changes are logged. This is very useful because you can track what was changed, when it was changed, and who did so. Changes to files can also be merged without losing work.
Your Umbraco CMS is automatically updated to the latest patch version. This is done in a safe way – Umbraco test the patch on approved copies of client sites, and then roll the patch out in batches. If it causes a site to misbehave it’s automatically rolled back to the previous working version.
This is especially important with security releases. If your CMS is not kept up to date your website may be vulnerable to attacks. Taking the popular CMS Wordpress as an example, there are thousands of vulnerabilities for previous versions, yet less than half of the websites are kept up to date.
No more downloading and installing. With a click of a button, we are able to spin up a new Umbraco CMS project within minutes. UaaS takes advantage of Azure services to pre-allocate resources so that new projects are always available and can be created instantly.
In short, UaaS makes our website development process more efficient and more effective. We think UaaS is a very polished product and awesome offering from Umbraco and we’re sure you’ll love it too. If you’re interested in finding out more about Umbraco as a Service, our bespoke web development service, or would like a free demo, get in touch!
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