Hytera Americas

A complex Craft CMS website migration and upgrade for a global communications company.

Hytera
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The Client

Hytera is the fastest growing two-way radio communications company in the world, and an industry leader in research and development, state-of-the-art manufacturing, and bringing next-generation radio technology to the market.

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The Problem

Hytera America's suite of websites was aging, unstable, and not scaling with the client's needs. They urgently needed a new web development partner to upgrade their Craft CMS sites and migrate them from the UK to U.S. hosting and management.

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The Approach

We began by setting up cloned versions of the existing UK-hosted sites in data centers in the U.S. We then conducted a rolling content migration while simultaneously updating problematic legacy code.

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How Big?

We migrated 5 complete sites for Hytera. Each website had tens of thousands of items with complex content and data connections. The project also included utilizing multiple languages for sites serving Canada and Latin America.

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Reliability

We took advantage of the site migration and Craft upgrade as an opportunity to refactor legacy code, increasing site stability and reliability for future marketing initiatives.

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What Now?

More than just building new technology, Solspace shepherded Hytera through a stressful, complicated website migration process. We are now the web development lead for all of the Hytera Americas websites.

Overview

Hytera is a multinational radio communications company. Their systems are used by businesses, hospitals, schools and universities, general contractors, security companies, hotels and resorts, mining, farming and more. A number of their international sales websites run on Craft CMS.

The Hytera Americas manager for the entire project was the Director of Marketing for North America who initiated the projects, interfaced with Solspace, and was the liaison to other Hytera divisions in Canada and Latin America. He sought to decouple a number of the Americas sites and move those closer to home so that they could be more tightly managed.

Solspace was brought in to plan and execute the extraction of the 5 Americas sites from their primary Craft CMS instance which was hosted in the UK. We needed to bring those sites over to servers in the U.S. and establish them on a new Craft instance. At the same time, all sites needed to be upgraded to Craft 3. Additionally, there were many legacy issues that needed to be resolved along the way, including changing their legacy form handling solution to Solspace's Freeform.

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The Migration Challenge

When working to solve problems with large and complex websites for large and complex companies, we’ve found that the human aspect is usually key to identifying and implementing solutions. In these situations, a developer’s technical expertise is usually a given, and the ability to manage complex requirements and functions is just assumed by the client.

When this project began, another web development company was responsible for the current websites. The first task was to engage with them as constructively as possible. This type of ownership handoff is almost always a huge challenge, especially when development projects are in progress. We knew going in that miscommunication and misunderstandings are easy to come by in this situation. To best advocate for our client, we would need to develop a positive and respectful relationship with the UK team. Happily, that team proved to be extremely professional and they were endlessly helpful.

Development professionals tend to slip up by not prioritizing and managing human relationships as much as the technical elements of the project. Developing a relationship with the client that’s based on authenticity, with a focus on winning allies, curating productive communication, and doing good for others builds trust and leads to enduring partnerships.

The Hosting Challenge

For sites as high-profile and high-volume as those managed by Hytera Americas, it's necessary to have 24/7 coverage to support server up-time. In scenarios like this, we always opt to hand the monitoring and up-time problem off to a specialized expert. Based on our long history and record of success together, we always choose ArcusTech as our hosting partner. They have years of experience optimizing servers for processor and database heavy CMS tools like Craft. Having a reliable partner like ArcusTech is crucial for risk management, and part of the promise you’ve made to your client.

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The Upgrade Challenge

The Hytera sites have a massive amount of traffic and an enormous quantity of content which must be updated on a regular basis. This makes the basic challenge of upgrading from one CMS version to another exponentially more difficult. It is simply not feasible to take the websites offline for a day to perform the upgrade in place. So, we created a new instance of the site in a secure location, upgraded that new instance, and then orchestrated a separate content migration process that ran in parallel with the current live site. While quite complicated, Solspace’s experience with this approach for past clients helped enormously and led to a smooth transition and launch.

Cloudflare

Solspace’s strategy to put the Hytera sites behind Cloudflare directly enhanced the sites' reliability. As Hytera is a multinational organization based in China, it is a target for DDoS and other forms of web attacks. Cloudflare provides an additional layer of protection from these issues, and its various caching capabilities can be leveraged to increase page load speed. Running traffic through Cloudflare first is a best practice and central to our Web Reliability philosophy.

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Bring Out Your Dead!!

Sites like Hytera's are complex and multi-layered. Outlier problems emerge time and again and tend to require ad hoc solutions. Marketing initiatives and updates to the buying process all take a toll on the stability of the website code over time. The opportunity afforded by upgrading Hytera from Craft 2 to Craft 3 allowed us to unearth these issues and resolve them with refactored code.

No one really enjoys doing this type of labor-intensive and mind-numbingly detailed type of work, especially since it rarely has a direct effect on the customer’s buying process. But methodically searching for, uncovering, and resolving issues in the underlying code is an essential part of website maintenance. Without regular code refactoring, websites become brittle and prone to critical failures. It becomes difficult to make changes to one part of the site without breaking other parts.

Even so, it can be a challenge to explain and sell this type of work to a client. So, we are extremely pleased that Hytera acknowledged the issue, embraced the goals of Web Reliability, and allowed us to resolve legacy problems as part of this major site migration.