U.S. Federal Government

The Information Security Team at the U.S. Capitol have to treat their work like it's a matter of national security. They need to ensure that their intranet is secure and always online, no matter the circumstances.

Building a better intranet

To do the best possible job, IT professionals have to treat their work like it's a matter of national security.

Of course that's usually not the case, but for the information security team at the US capitol, it just might be true. They need to ensure that their intranet is secure and always online, no matter what the circumstances.

In our previous CMS, we had to give users a lot of training before we could give them the keys to the car. Now, after a quick 10 minute walkthrough with Mura CMS, we can give them license to go ahead and dig in. Principal IT Specialist

In 2009, it was managing its intranet with a proprietary CMS on a pair of servers, but it wasn't providing them with the redundancy they needed in case of a cyber-attack or natural disaster. Their CMS's restrictive licensing policies turned transitioning to a more durable multiple server architecture into an expensive administrative nightmare. The intranet was at risk for a shutdown, and they were being held hostage by license keys. 

Their CMS's inflexibility was obvious in other ways as well. It was difficult to use, even for skilled content editors, and less sophisticated users required a day-long training session just to get started on the system. Even then the information security team found itself spending too much time on user support.

They had to find a CMS that could give them security, durability and flexibility with a minimum of fuss. It had to be easy enough to learn that administrators responsible for their departmental websites could do their jobs. It had to be able to manage the content for the 90+ sites on their intranet. And it had to support an architecture that would stay online in the face of a severe disruption.

They chose Mura CMS.

Secure, durable, flexible

To achieve the security and durability they needed, the IS team needed a CMS that provides options for both scalability and redundancy. They chose a system architecture that included a development server, a pair of staging servers, and two separate clusters that include three production servers each, located in two geographically distant data centers. Instantly they had achieved the durability they needed. At times of peak usage, the system could spread the load over multiple servers. In the event of an outage caused by cyber-attack or natural disaster, all traffic could be shifted to either center, keeping the intranet online even if one of the data centers went down. 

With the ability to setup and run this architecture under the Mura CMS open source license, the administrative headaches of dealing with multiple product keys and licenses disappeared. The shift to an open source stack ended up saving the IT department well into the six-figures worth of licensing fees, since they were able to shift from Adobe Cold Fusion and Windows to a Railo/Tomcat/Linux base..

Mura CMS has fulfilled the need for scalability as well, managing the content for 96 distinct websites. Almost all of the sites are on the intranet, but a handful are public-facing. These external sites have their own requirements and content, but a single Mura instance manages them with no need for additional licenses or infrastructure.

It's really easy to write custom code where we needed to—but the features that are built into Mura CMS kept us from having to do that in a lot of cases. Senior Communications Advisor

Mura CMS has also delivered a huge improvement in ease of use for the staff who administer web content. Training the administrators who maintain departmental sites used to be a headache, taking a full day of structured training to get users up and running on the system. And even then they frequently called for additional support. But on Mura CMS, users are up and running in a few minutes—no written curriculum or formal training necessary. Bringing content managers online has become a simple exercise in setting up a login and explaining how they can access their department's website. Since users know that nothing they do is going to crash the system or delete their site, they have the confidence they need to do their job. The system's redundant architecture and multiple servers aren't even visible to content managers. They just login, make their changes, and the system takes care of the rest.

Mura CMS has also made the IS team's lives easier. The IS department gets far fewer calls for support from users; in fact, one IT specialist estimates that he's received about three calls for training follow-up in the three years they've has been running Mura CMS.

But Mura CMS isn't just easy to use, it's also powerful. The intranet supports multiple blogs, dynamically imports content from other websites, and manages internal administrative documents including PDFs and MS Office files—all from within Mura. And more sophisticated users can easily write custom code to add custom features or functionality if the default feature set doesn't address a specific need.

No compromise required

When the IS team decided to switch to a new CMS, it would have been understandable if they felt they had to weigh their requirements against each other. Security or ease of use. Durability or scalability. 

But Mura CMS proves that those are false dichotomies. It was able to meet the security requirements, stay online under trying conditions, and manage content for almost a hundred individual websites all from one instance—while saving money and valuable employee time. They didn't want to compromise on any of their needs—and thanks to Mura CMS, they didn't have to.

References available upon request.