T4 Infrastructure Changes

We’re taking the opportunity to bring the infrastructure that supports our Content Management System (CMS) [TerminalFour/T4] into line and fix some issues that we’ve had with our setup for a number of years. In the past we’ve had neither the time, resources or the chance to address it, until now.

Most users won’t have noticed any issues (as we work very hard to ensure that you don’t) but inside the web team, these issues have an impact on a regular basis. We have two main problems:

  • Some of the underlying servers are on unsupported technologies
  • The servers are not all the same in terms of their setup and versions of software

The result of this is that we have issues with our publishing times, which means pages take longer to go out. Also, when we require new modules or add-ons, we struggle to implement them.

The unfortunate result of this is that content/functionality that we develop takes longer than it should and we get caught out with unexpected results.

So what’s changing?

We’re working with our colleagues in UoDIT to create new servers with supported software and consistent configuration. We’ll then migrate our existing setup (the CMS and all our content) to these new servers.

At the same time, we are taking the opportunity to migrate our underlying database technology from Oracle to MySQL, which is the preferred option by the vendor.

The CMS software itself will not change during this work, how it looks and how you use it will remain the same as before.

When is this happening?

Work is already underway to build the servers. We expect to have the development environment completed for week commencing 13th November and tested with the production environment, the week of the 27th of November.

Communications have already gone out to all editors and we will keep you posted on the progress.

There will be some downtime of the CMS during the week of the 27th November as we have to ensure no changes are being made to the CMS whilst we are transferring the content over so nothing is lost.

We will still be able to make emergency changes to the website during this time, but you should look to have any changes around that time completed in the CMS before or after this work schedule, to minimise impact.

Will it be worth it?

Whilst you’ll not notice much happening in the front end, this work will ensure the stability of the existing system over the next couple of years whilst we migrate content to the new site.

Written by:

Shahbaz graduated from this University and went on to work in the IT division until 2008, when he moved to the web team. He is now the Web Development Manager and is responsible for the web infrastructure as well as developing the functionality to support the web vision. He spends his free time standing knee deep in Scottish Lochs or hanging out of helicopters, taking pictures.

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