More Control and Faster Deployments for Deltares
Deltares is an independent institute for applied research in the field of water and subsurface. Throughout the world, it provides smart modelling software solutions for people, the environment and society in the field of river deltas, coastal regions and basins. Because Deltares believes in openness and transparency, it decided in 2011 to make part of its modelling software available for people to download and use for free.
To stimulate cooperation between the users of its software, Deltares started the Open Source Community portal. It was a Liferay based portal, hosting a dozen communities all aimed at specific fields of interest. During the next 7 years, the portal grew rapidly to over 25.000 members. While the growth was warmly welcomed, it came with two challenges: keeping the portal responsive and secure.
After investigating various options, Deltares chose for Firelay’s Liferay Cloud because of the self-service and transparency. Since adoption, Deltares has streamlined the development process and significantly reduced their operational costs.
Seeking a platform that support its growth
In 2011 Deltares decided to make part of its modelling software available for people to download and use for free. To facilitate cooperation between people that downloaded the software, Deltares started the Open Source Community portal. It was a Liferay based portal, hosting a dozen communities all aimed at specific fields of interest.
During the next 7 years the portal grew rapidly to over 25.000 members. While the growth was warmly welcomed, it came with the following challenges:
Deltares was hosting the portal on-premises, but was lacking the expertise to maintain the infrastructure of the portal to support the growth;
The portal version was getting outdated and didn’t offer all the bells and whistles that the community members requested;
Although having many developers itself, Deltares had to hire third party developers for the portal development (high out of pocket costs) as the development and deployment process were complex.
In 2019 Erik de Rooij, technical project engineer at Deltares, was assigned to face these challenges and make the portal future ready. After doing market research, Erik opted for Firelay’s Liferay Cloud as it ticked all his boxes: “After a demonstration, we were immediately excited and decided to make the move.”
Deltares is an independent institute for applied research in the field of water and subsurface. Throughout the world, it provides smart modelling software solutions for people, the environment and society in the field of river deltas, coastal regions and basins.
Company Size: Enterprise 800+ employees.
Moving to Liferay Cloud and migrating to Liferay DXP
The first step was to say goodbye to the managed on-premises solution and make the move to the cloud. Deltares’ IT-department took little ownership, and because the stakeholder had no access to the backside of the portal, it was really challenging to get the system configured. “We’ve experienced this as a real burden and really time consuming. So as you can imagine, it was on our wishlist to get more control, rely less on our IT-department and remove them from the burden of being the ‘middleman’.”
The second step was to upgrade from Liferay 6.1CE to Liferay DXP v7.1. “Something that was on our mind was the need for a more recent Liferay version. I believe it’s important to upgrade Liferay regularly and version 6.1 was lacking important features too.” After selecting a third party integrator to do the functional upgrade, Deltares assigned Firelay to make sure the actual portal migration was done with the least amount of downtime.
Moving a Liferay portal from on-premises location to the cloud requires meticulous attention to detail. Especially making sure that all members of the portal end up at the new portal from the first moment the customer demands so, requires the correct preparation. “Firelay took all the hassle of the actual Liferay DXP migration out of our hands, by coordinating with our integrator, our internal IT-department and ourselves,” Erik said.
A fully managed self-service Liferay environment
Since Deltares moved to Liferay Cloud, it has been using the platform to radically change and optimize its deployment process. Erik is very happy with the result.
“Adding or changing functionality and behaviour of the portal has always been time consuming. We had to always hire Liferay consultants, which is a pity as we have developers ourselves. Now, with Liferay Cloud and the awesome continuous integration and continuous deployment pipelines that are connected to our own Git repository, we can apply changes to our Liferay environments ourselves by doing a simple Git commit.”
And although Deltares is in full control of its Liferay DXP with Liferay Cloud, Erik is confident that even if developers make mistakes, this will not lead to issues with the portal: ”We can now do everything ourselves, but we can still ask Firelay to help or do things for us if we want to. However, because I know backups are created frequently I am not worried about messing things up.”
Figure 1. An example of a pipeline configuration in Liferay Cloud.
Great results with Liferay Cloud
Deltares managed to gain self-control, lowering the burden on its IT-department. It’s also saving Deltares a lot of time and money since it doesn’t need to hire consultants anymore. “We can see everything that’s going on with our Liferay DXP portal now and are able to make any required changes ourselves. We can code ourselves and do deployments without requiring help from others. Things we’ve longed for.
Besides the fact that Erik can do more himself, he also sees that other aspects of his company have improved tremendously. “It really speeded up our development cycle, resulting in very happy portal users. Although the combination of doing a Liferay upgrade and simultaneously moving to the cloud, is potentially a high risk combination, with Firelay it turned out to be a great decision.”