There were many challenges for this project. The main one being how to provide a cloud-based solution that integrated securely with on-premise information. Originally LMC was unsure of how to bridge the gap to create a hybrid public cloud solution. LMC needed to provide a single set of endpoints that could surface data correctly while internally communicating with multiple servers, systems, and databases.
Right after that challenge was the fact that the pre-existing public and private sections of www.lmc.net were not unified in their technology and therefore hard to manage and update over time. This needed to be rectified in the new solution.
Some other challenges on the project were:
- Migrate away from legacy on-premise hosting infrastructure to allow for cost savings and other benefits of hosting the in the cloud.
- Migate away from an outdated technology stack of legacy builds of Microsoft SQL Server, Windows Server, and an older instance of Kentico CMS.
- Provide a way for an internal data api to secure communicate with the outside world.
- LMC‘s content is meant for multiple audiences and roles. They needed a way to choose items, such as News articles, to show up in their public and/or private site, target that content to personalize the exerpience of their dealers, and make it easier to manage and deliver content to users.
- LMC needed a robust subscription feature where users could subscribe to different reports, news items, specials & promotions, pricing updates, etc. Based on their subscriptions, users would get automatically notified via email when new reports or content items are uploaded.
- Multiple user management. LMC wanted the ability to add, remove and edit users, as well as assign different roles and responsibilities based on each user.
- The User Manager feature, that allows for provisioning of external users without LMC involvement, proved to be a challenge due to the high level of customized admin rights.
- Customized list Generation for Manufacturer Specials. LMC needed the ability for users to be able to view and print customized specials based on their needs and wants. Viewing only the specials they have selected.
- Market Reports – LMC needed specific reports to be automatically named categorized into folders.
- Custom Directory – LMC wanted to offer users to view other manufactures contacts who are relevant to their business needs and part of the LMC network.
BizStream and LMC jointly developed a solution that leveraged many services and resources from Microsoft Azure
and Kentico EMS. The new solution uses the following Azure Services:
- Azure PaaS via Azure App Services, for delivery of the MVC live site and Kentico EMS Admin tool. This also allows for very easy deployment because of the integration into Visual Studio.
- Azure SQL databases, for secure and scalable database hosting of the website.
- Azure REDIS cache, for session state management of the application to allow for scalability and performance.
- Azure BLOB Storage, for fast delivery of the Kentico Media Library assets
- Azure Monitoring, for keeping an eye on the performance and uptime of the site.
- Azure Dev Ops, for to measure load testing, handle automated builds, and handle automated deployments to both test and production targets.
Detailed Solutions include:
- BizStream implemented the MVC development methodology with Kentico EMS to provide a future proof investment.
- LMC IT created a new API for surfacing internal data to the web from its on-premise data stores.
- Security for LMC API – LMC and BizStream leveraged the one-time password methodology standard.
- BizStream implemented logic on the front end utilizing Vue.js and a Hybrid SPA approach to handle the most dynamic aspects of the site. This includes the LMC Directory, Product grids, multiple Search and Filtering areas of the site. Admins can now easily add and remove users, assign different roles and responsibilities, etc.
- BizStream also used Vue.js to solve the need of LMC’s Customized List Generation for Manufacturer Specials feature.
- BizStream and LMC utilized File Transfer Reports and Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS reports) to create an integrated reporting experience.
- Kentico Smart Search was utilized to handle automatic filtering. When reports are sent by LMC users, they get dropped into folders and then automatically categorized and named.
- Kentico Scheduled Tasks were used so only users who subscribe to specific reports would receive the notifications.
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM integration - BizStream helped LMC come to a solution that could create two-way synchronization between Kentico users and contacts that would also show up in Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM with approvals from the stakeholder division.
- Integration with Vendor Database - LMC used an API that deployed to Azure to talk to their multiple internal systems to power much of the application. BizStream unified the data with the Kentico content tree.
- To handle LMC’s Claim Forms, BizStream customized the Kentico Forms engine to allow for multi-part forms that tied to both Kentico and LMC’s internal systems with validation of invoice numbers, attachments, etc.
- LMC uses Kentico EMS Activity Tracking and Google Tag Manager to get insights on how the site is used.
- BizStream used the Kentico Continuous Integration feature that enables shared development teams to collaborate.
- Compare for Kentico, part of the Kentico Toolkit, was used for synchronizing environment data.
The total length of the project was 16 months.
Since the release of the new LMC.Net, both LMC staff, and the LMC Dealer Network Dealers are thrilled with the results. Dealers can now consume the site and LMC services on mobile devices when they could not before. The overall speed and performance of the site is greatly increased, especially for Dealers not located on the east coast of the US.
Specifically, the new https://www.LMC.net
has shown a 33% increase in active dealer logins
over the 3-month initial release period between February and March 2019.
The Microsoft Azure
deployment of Kentico has allowed LMC IT to reduce the amount of old legacy servers, provide a more secure and performant solution to Dealers around the USA, and open up new APIs to other solutions that were not possible before.
The development and marketing team at LMC are now exploring the upgrade to Kentico 12.0 EMS and addition of more digital marketing features.
Key Criteria for Choosing Kentico
LMC chose Kentico EMS based on its rich feature set and ability to be hosted in Microsoft Azure.
Overall key criteria included:
- Ease of use for core Content Management for both technical and non-technical users.
- Ability to Integrate external systems and APIs into the CMS solution
- Kentico’s ability to granularly control security through roles and permissions
- ASP.NET MVC as a development methodology
- LMC had some previous experience in the Kentico platform