Ektron kicks off its Synergy conference in Las Vegas today with some big platform news. What's more interesting to you -- the new Digital Experience Hub (DXH) or the Azure edition?

The CXM Integration Layer

One of the big criticisms of Ektron's platform is that it follows a best of breed approach. This means Ektron focuses its development efforts on the products it knows the best -- like web content management -- and it integrates with the best of other products, like CRM, email marketing, marketing automation and web analytics.

According to its many critics, this approach of trying to integrate best of breed products can turn into quite a nightmare. Today, Ektron is announcing the answer to that so-called nightmare: the Digital Experience Hub (DXH).

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Ektron's Digital Experience Hub

The DXH is the productized implementation of the Customer Experience Management (CXM) integration layer. Starting in Q1 of next year it will be sold and installed as a separate product.

As you already know, Ektron has developed supported integrations with some key technology partners, like Salesforce.com and MS Dynamics for CRM, Marketo for marketing automation, and Google and WebTrends for Web Analytics . Now, with DXH, these integrations will come out of the box.

Even more important, using its ContextBus (TM), Ektron can provide content and context across all the integrated apps. So now your content targeting is both CRM and marketing automation aware, enabling you to trigger personalized messages on your website or other channel. You can also pass data back to these applications, like visitor behavior and profile attributes or content created in the Web CMS.

The DXH also enables extended analytics because it can send more than basic traffic data to your web analytics provider. Now you can have in context analytics and detailed visitor profile and traffic data can be sent to enable custom segmentation.

The DXH is extensible, so when there's another technology you need to hook in, you can expect Ektron or one its technology partners to enable it.

Ektron in the Azure Cloud

You can now dynamically deploy your websites and/or landing pages into the Azure infrastructure. You simply set up Azure as a new deployment channel in Ektron and do some basic configuration. Once done you can then sync profiles for each site. Configuration options include scheduling capacity in Azure and controling what Azure data center instance your site will be available from.

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Ektron's Azure Configuration

Ektron has been a bit slow to deliver its Azure cloud story, but Tom Wentworth, Ektron's CMO says there was good reason for it. The CXM vendor wanted to resolve some Azure limitations that it believed affected a company's ability to make changes to their website quickly. Apparently, there is a limitation with Azure on how you deploy pages. To make even the smallest change you have to redeploy your entire site and when you do this, your website is unavailable. Neither of these things contributes to a good customer experience.

Wentworth told us that Ektron solved these problems by developing a new version of its eSync tool (this is the tool which provisions assets through different environments), allowing you to do a differential deployment to Azure and thus keep the site always available.

Taking Organizations to the Next Level

Ektron's R&D efforts have grown significantly in the last little while, according to Wentworth by 1/3 in 2011 alone. This is why we are seeing a steady stream of new offerings from the vendor lately, starting with the release of Ektron 8.5. And it isn't finished yet. From a sold out customer conference in Vegas we know there is more news coming, so stay tuned.