Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Engage!

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.