Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The One-Site Project

It's my great pleasure to announce our new web-site. The one-site project aimed to unified our two web sites. As previously mentioned, we started this project sometime ago to address the needs of our community. We believe that the diverse interests of our community are better represented by the cloud IT roles. And the new website has been designed to help our users to navigate following the interests, languages, and preferred communication channel of each role.

Navigation by Cloud IT Roles

First let me mentioned how the generic navigation of the site has been greatly improved. The main navigation is Learn, Eucalyptus Cloud, Participate, Services and Partners, and, if you already know where you want to go, in the footer of each page you will find direct links to subsections. The progression is obvious, starting from generic documents on cloud computing, on premise cloud, IT roles going to the specific of Eucalyptus Cloud, finally exposing how to reach our community, Services provided and last but not least diving into the rich and varied partner ecosystem.

Information customized on a per-role basis

Let's go back to the navigation by roles. In the Learn section there is a selection that allows each roles to explore what cloud means for them. Each role page has specific links and information related to the respective competences. Let me give you examples for some of the roles represented there:
  • Cloud Administrators will find install and maintenance guides. In case they get into issues they can search our knowledge base for the specific error code, or engage other administrators to discuss about the different installation options or what is the best hypervisor for their situation; 
  •  Developers can quickly reach the latest source code, looks at currently worked on issues, and start talking about the latest patch they have been working on. Detailed informations on Eucalyptus internal structure and API supported are also the bread and butter for Developers;
  • Application Architects will find everything about our starter images, from what's inside and why, to how to recreate and modify them. They would want to use and modify the instances recipes and share their latest scripts to recreate their production environment. 
You will find the roles highlighted throughout the web site, so, for example, under GetEucalyptus you will find options for Managers (get the free trial), Architects (FastStart for a quick proof of concept), Administrators (get the latest release), Application Architect (get the starter images).

Find how to participate independently from your role

Participate and Resource Library are the two notable exceptions to the roles principle. While you will still find links to the cloud roles pages, these pages addresses our community as a single entity. Participate gathers selected blogs posts for all our users, as well as giving pointers to where to find online community. Resource Library allows you to find all the published information about Eucalyptus and cloud computing organized by type and date.

With the new web site, you will also find new redesigned forum. You will find the motivation behind it in Darren's blog, and more about its functioning in the Engage blog. Our new site is now available and ready to Engage you: let us know what you like and how we can improve it for you.


We started the journey of One sometime ago. The original idea took shape and evolved into the one-site project and now into Engage. The sentiments and the ideas behind Engage have been articulated very clearly in Darren's blog. Since the time of Eucalyptus 1.5, we established forum within our web site, to allow our community to come together and discuss Eucalyptus and Cloud Computing. It has been my pleasure to help the best I could, participate in discussions, and meet new friends.

It didn't take too long before we realized how inadequate the forum and ultimate we were to help all our users. Limited search capabilities, repeating threads, difficult forum management, obscured error reporting, and a new field called on-premise cloud, got us into long per-post sessions. And yet all we could do was the idiomatic drop in the bucket. The whole process was wrong: we needed to change tack.

That's when Darren got into the picture. His experience with multiple support organizations, brought the needed fresh thinking. His efforts are now live with Engage, and these are the key points:

Intuitive user experience: type your question

  • very intuitive user experience: just type in your question;
  • the same intuitive experience for customers and non-customer: we are doing the necessary work to ensure that customers requests meets their SLA;
  • our customers already love the competence and promptness of our support team. Our community shared the same love, perhaps without knowing: the support team is on IRC, on the forum, on emails, and Engage allows to more effectively track all open questions (wherever they are);
  • modern forum tools: we can now tag an answer as 'best answer', turn it into an article, keep track of the unanswered active threads;
  • single Knowledge Base! Perhaps the most important point: all the articles, questions, and soon issues/bugs form a common knowledge base that a simple and powerful search mines effectively. Every time you type in a question, you are searching the knowledge base!

Likely answers or topic offered while you type limits duplicate threads

Engage has two different basic tool: the Q&A and the Article. A Q&A can be seen as a forum post, everybody can create one and everyone can answer it, can be open ended or can have a 'best answer' to it. Customers can also flag it for faster escalation. Articles are the bulk of the knowledge base: we turn the most common, or important, Q&A into articles, where we can give more background information, have a common format, expose workaround or solutions.

Articles provides the bulk of the knowledge base

When posting a new question you will be asked for Topic, Name, Email Address, Subject, and Body. We divided the Topic based on the Cloud IT roles, following the navigation principle of our site. For a short amount of time, you will have to enter Name, and Email Address each time. This issue will be resolved once we deploy the single sign-on mechanism (based on OpenID) we are working on.

Topics are divided based on the Cloud IT roles

This new tool come with  a cost: we will not be able to migrate our old forum posts to it. The tools are too different and we simply don't have the man-power to make this migration manually. We already pre-populated the articles with the most note-worthy topic coming from the old forum, but we did probably miss some. Also your username has not been migrated from the old web site: once we implements the single sign-on, you will be able to utilize your preferred OpenID provider to login.

Please help us to migrate your unanswered or favorite post from the old forum: just go to engage and post it there. And if you encounter any issue, don't hesitate to contact us. We do believe you will love the simplicity and completeness of what you will find at Engage, and we will be happy to hear any comment you have to improve it.