AgeUK

AgeUK, Technical ArchitectTechnical Architect

December 2008 – December 2011

December 2008 – March 2009

The charities Help the Aged and Age Concern merged in April 2009 to become AgeUK. I was originally contracted to Help The Aged in late 2008 to integrate Age Concerns intranet in-to Help The Aged’s infrastructure,  the intranet used C2 Software’s Active Edition CMS. I was tasked with designing and implementing, the infrastructure and a Disaster Recovery processes for the intranet across two sites plus an external facing extranet.  VMWare was used for the development, UAT and Live environments.

March 2009 – May 2010

With the successful launch of the intranet I was asked to be envolved from the outset in the rewriting and launch of the website for the Charity.  This initially involved gathering the organisations requirements and selecting an appropriate CMS that would meet them, EpiServer 5.1 was chosen as it met most of the organisations requirements.

This was the largest development project ever under-taken by the charity and a suitable development environment had first to be implemented.  Using VMWare’s vSphere environment I implemented a continuous integration environment using Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS) for source control and Teamcity was used to manage the builds.  This is fully integrated and automated, code is checked into TFS where Teamcity checks the code out, compiles, builds a deployment package and installs to the Continuous Integration Test server.  Once the web site was deployed to test an number of automated tests we ran using Selenium Grid with results being fed back into TFS.

A single click deploy method was implemented allowing authorised personal to automatically deploy the current build from Test in to UAT for a more through test from real users.  The method of deploying to Live was also scripted and full automated ensuring consistant and reliable deploys of a complex system.

With up to 400 brand partner sites and 800 editors the EpiServer solution had to be secure and robust.  With the requirement of single sign-on for internal users integrating with Active Directory and the ability for external users to edit their sites without the need for a VPN this raised a number of security concerns.  The only way to meet all the requirements and maintain a level of security was to have a separate editorial system within the AgeUK DMZ using an LDAP proxy for AD lookup.  Initially we planed to use EpiServers mirroring feature to publish content from the editorial to live environments but this proved unsuccessful due to the amount of customisation required to the system as a whole.  This left the only solution to implement SQL replication which is an unsupported by EpiServer.  Using the article written by Per Bjurstrom as a basis we built a test rig environment under VMWare to specifically to work out by using Red Gates SQL Tools how the database schema works allowing us to define the Publication rules in SQL Replication.   Phase One of the site was launched on time and successfully in May 2010.

May 2010 – January 2011

With the successful launch of phase one we had a firm base to build on to implement many of the new features required including, Local Directory Searches, Facet Searching, eCommerce and Community to name but a few.

During this time we also upgraded the site from EpiServer 5.1 to EpiServer 6 to take advantage of the many features added.  We also re tested and evaluated EpiServer’s improved mirroring features but again these proved insufficient for our requirements so SQL replication was maintained.

January 2011 – May 2011

With much of the main site now coming under the day to day running less of my time was required for this.  The final stages of the Charity Merger involved moving the two offices into a new single office whilst evaluating and consolidating our development environment which had grown over several different environments over the last 18 months due to budget constraints.  This gave us the ideally opportunity to re design the development infrastructure which had spread over 5 different environments.

June 2011 – November 2011

With the office move completed successfully I was tasked to work with a Business Analyst in gathering requirements for a replacement Intranet, this was a lengthy process with over 80 interviews, online questionares which produced 600 requirements.  These we de-duplicated and prioritised with the assistance of the project sponsor using MoSCoW approach.  With the requirements defined and prioritised I was tasked in researching the Market to find suitable solutions.  Considering ‘Out of the Box’, Software As A Service (SaaS) and custom framework solutions, an evaluation was started, this involved research, demos, visiting customers and building prototypes.  Finally I presented a short list of 3 solutions to the board with the various Pros and Cons of each.  A decision was made in in November 2011 to go with one of the out of the box solutions.

 

 

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