What to Make of the Ektron and EPiServer Merger

Well, Ektron and EPiServer's new owners picked Door #1 -- a flat-out merger.

Merging the two vendors after they got bought by the same investment company might seem the cleanest approach. But in the end I believe it will turn out to be the messiest alternative for the only stakeholders that really matter: you the customer.

Apples and Oranges

The fundamental problem here is that Ektron and EPiServer have two very different business and technology models. The business models can maybe get reconciled, but the technology models likely cannot.

2015 WCM Logo Landscape
Fig. 1: Ektron is more of a product; EPiServer is more of a platform.

EPiServer is a platform on which you can develop highly customized experiences; Ektron is a feature-rich product with a slim and developer-unfriendly API. Both tools have their place in the broader market. But given their radically different codebases, there is scant hope of combining them.

Not surprisingly, the initial vendor communications around the merger focus on ethereal concepts like "experience platform," "disruptive digital transformation," and "a single platform in the cloud." So at least we can say they are buzzword-compliant.

In the real world -- the world where you labor every day -- these technologies are not going to mesh. A "single platform" is a PowerPoint-only pipe dream. Investors can dream, but what about you the customer?

Customer Impact

For EPiServer customers, the news is not all bad. You'll just want to avoid signing on for Ektron services or modules that salespeople will be incented to cross-sell to you in the coming months.

Ektron customers should investigate alternatives. To be sure, there's no immediate need to rush to the door. But migrating to EPiServer technology -- and that is almost surely where this is all going -- will never be an upgrade. It's a replacement.

And if you are going to replace your Web CMS, why not pick the successor yourself? Sure, perhaps EPiServer is a contender, but if you want a simpler, less developer-intensive WCM product (like you had with Ektron), you'll want to consider Kentico, Sitefinity, or Umbraco. Or moving beyond .NET, look at the likes of Magnolia or WordPress, to name just a few.

If you need some advice on this journey, let us know.

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Gil, Partner, Cancentric Solutions Inc.
iStudio Canada Inc.

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