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Kentico as a product and a business partner

Petr Palas, the director and the only owner of the Kentico company, started the business as an outcome of his thesis in June 2004. He is one of the most hard-working men I’ve ever met. No wonder Kentico is several times bigger now then I had joined the team in 2010. When I was leaving Kentico to become a freelancer I definitely wanted to stay in touch with the company. They are nice people who listen to the market and they have a great product for website development. Let me tell you what makes Kentico a great product and business partner.

Kentico as a product and a business partner

The product

The initial idea of Kentico was to become a Content Management System (CMS) for the .NET platform. During the first 7 years Kentico developers were adding many features which help users create and manage all kinds of websites — presentations, online stores, community websites or intranets. In this period Kentico has became a feature rich CMS with a lot of out-of-the-box functionality. This means whatever are requirements for your website there is a high chance Kentico feature-set covers them and you don’t need to implement any custom functionality. What you need to know is front-end development for building templates. But all the functionality, storing and rendering data could be achieved only with use of Kentico administration interface, also called the Kentico Portal Engine. In simple words a front-end developer creates a visual part of the website and if he also knows how to orientate in Kentico he is capable to make the website fully working without knowledge of backend development. .NET in this case. And that’s exactly what I would like to teach you — we will learn how to orientate in Kentico and develop a website from scratch with use of the Kentico’s Portal Engine.

Of course, as Kentico grows in time customer's requirements become more and more specific so they need to customize or add a new functionality. For that purpose Kentico has a well documented API so that it is quite easy for skilled .NET developer to create a new functionality or integrate Kentico with other back-end system.

In 2011 the sixth version of Kentico has been released and brought a new perspective on websites. Until that time Kentico has been focused mostly on developers but Kentico 6 started to aim also at a marketing audience by the Enterprise Marketing Solution (EMS). With features included in EMS we can follow up visitors of our websites, make them more interested in promoted products by personalizing website’s content which is intended to increase revenue. Until these days Kentico has been adding new features, removing unused features, redesigning the administration interface for better user experience and focusing on the MVC development model. Today it is a reliable platform which allows us create and manage websites with variety of sizes and kinds in one place with consistent user experience.

Product editions

I wanted to outline scope of the product by telling you a little history in the previous chapter. Now let’s clarify when Kentico is a good choice for your business and what value could bring for what money.

First of all it is worth mention Kentico is a multi-site CMS which means that it allows you to run multiple websites within one instance of Kentico on a server. You can run as many websites as your server resources suffice. I would totally recommend you to run Kentico on a virtual or a dedicated server to avoid any issues regarding to performance or maintainability of the Kentico application. You actually can run Kentico in a shared hosting environment but in such a case you should understand constrains of it. Once your hosting environment is able to run Kentico smoothly you can start to build and host websites. Naturally, every website has a unique set of requirements so that Kentico offers several editions you can choose from according to required functionality. They differ from each other by set of features and also price. The official Kentico website promotes 3 editions — Base, Ultimate and Enterprise Marketing Solution. However, there are 5 editions in total you can get:

  • Free Edition — is perfectly fine for small projects. A big benefit is that you can use the user-friendly administration interface and also from the Content Management Solution with some restrictions. You are allowed to create 1000 pages, have 1 administrator, 1 editor and create 1 form within a website. You can also send a newsletter to 100 subscribers or have a small online shop with 10 products. You are required to place a backlink to the Kentico official website.
  • Small Business — is available for Kentico partners only (I will talk about the partnership program later). Basically, this edition decreases limitation numbers of the Free Edition and it also adds a possibility to use the Workflow feature and multilingualism.
  • Base — makes all the restrictions set by Free and Small Business editions unlimited and adds a web farm support so that you can create a full-featured presentation website or an online store.
  • Ultimate — besides Content Management and E-commerce brings a Social & Community and Intranet features. It also relieves you to create a website within a team of developers and allows you to maintain quality thanks to the Content staging.
  • Enterprise Marketing Solution — unlocks all the Kentico features. It contains all the features the Ultimate edition have and allows us to follow up visitors of the websites and make content of the website relevant to them.

As I have stated Kentico is a multi-site system you probably think of how it is possible to run websites when each of them features different edition in a single Kentico instance. The answer is Kentico licensing.

Licences

From the application point of view there is no difference if you need to run a Free Edition website or an Ultimate Edition website. You always install the whole Kentico application on your local machine or on a server. Functionality of a specific edition gets unlocked by a license key. A license key is always related to a domain name and it contains encoded information about the license edition. So, to be able to run a website on a specific domain in Kentico you have to put a license key relevant to the domain in your Kentico instance.

The license key could be obtained in the Kentico Client Portal. You have to logon to the Client Portal and use a serial number to be able to generate a license key. You will get the serial number from a Kentico sales person after you purchase some of the Kentico Editions. This process might seem a bit complicated so let’s look at it how you would normally proceed:

  • You would like to purchase some of the Kentico editions for your website.
  • You contact Kentico, make an agreement and purchase the edition.
  • Kentico provides you with a serial number which contains information about what all you have purchased.
  • You go to the Kentico Client Portal and generate license keys based on the serial number. With a singe license key you can generate one or more license keys.
  • You go to your Kentico instance and put license keys for all your required domains there.

You may also need licenses for your development servers. Kentico counts on it and you are allowed to generate development license keys for free.

Partnership program

Above I have mentioned the Small Business Edition is available for Kentico partners only. What the Kentico partnership program is and how you can become a partner? Once you decide to go with Kentico in your business it would be a reasonable step to join the partnership program. It allows you to get discounts on licenses, you can access bonus content, attend partner events and get listed in the Solution Partners section on the official Kentico website. As a Kentico partner you can attend a gamified program where you obtain points for certain activities related to Kentico. These activities are:

  • Reference websites that use Kentico
  • Case studies on Kentico projects
  • Kentico Certified Developer in your team
  • Add-on to Kentico
  • Publishing information about Kentico on a website or at an event
  • Sales

According to number of points, referenced websites and certified developers you can achieve one of the following partnership levels:

  • Bronze partner
  • Silver partner
  • Gold partner

As a Gold partner you can get competencies according to your expertise:

  • Development & Integration
  • On-line Marketing
  • E-commerce
  • Intranet
  • Microsoft Azure

The more points you have the more respected you are in eyes of your clients and also important to Kentico. It’s a long and challenging way to get on the top. All the activities regarding to the partnership program could be managed in the Kentico Partner Portal.

Learning resources

Besides the Client and Partner Portals Kentico offers their clients anther resources which help them orientate in the Kentico ecosystem. It’s the DocumentationDevNet Portal and upcoming E-learning.

As Kentico is a robust platform for creating websites which allows you to add or modify functionality it is literally necessary to have a comprehensive documentation. If you reach the documentation you can jump into learning new stuff immediately by choosing your role (Front-end or Back-end developer, Administrator, Marketer, etc.) and appropriate scenario. If you are new to Kentico this is a right place to start learning. If you get to the point you need to solve an advanced issue I advice you to visit the DevNet. There is so much good stuff in there but you have to spend some time looking around. As the DevNet is really important to Kentico developers I will briefly go through the website’s sections to tell you what you can find there:

  • Articles — Kentico developers, Evangelists, Solution architects write deep dive articles about Kentico.
  • Questions & Answers — Have an issue? No problem. Ask a community of Certified developers and Kentico staff.
  • Download — Need to upgrade, fix or localize Kentico? This is the right place.
  • Documentation — Here you can find links to documentation I have been talking about and also to other helpful resources (API reference, Tutorial, etc.)
  • Support — Valuable part of Kentico services is a band of Support Engineers who are ready to answer your questions. This section allows you to reach them.
  • Marketplace — Need a custom functionality for your project? Try to search Marketplace if someone has done it for you.

These days Kentico is starting an e-learning service which could help you jump in to the product even quicker. However, there is not much information about it yet.

Support

An ideal business partner is someone who helps you in situations when you are not capable do something by yourself. Luckily, Kentico knows that and has an internal Customer success department which helps you in tough situations. Basically, we recognize 2 levels of a support in Kentico:

  • There is a standard 24/7 support which answers your questions regarding to the product and advices you how to achieve basic things in front-end or back-end development.
  • Consulting services are recommended when integrating Kentico with another software, have a big project with a lot of customizations with no space for failures or need to upgrade heavily customized project.

And what really worth appreciation is the way they approach bugs in the product. As Kentico is a big living software there are naturally mistakes. Every week Kentico publishes a hotfix which fixes all bugs in the current version of the product. They also publish a list of all fixed bugs on top of that so you can find out if there is a fix for your issue.

Conclusion

Thanks to all the time improving ecosystem of services Kentico is a very good business partner. They provide robust platform for creating websites with several pricing levels. If you want to learn new stuff or have any issue there is the Documentation, Support and Consulting services. And if you use Kentico frequently for website development you can benefit from their Partnership program.

Milan Lund

is a freelance web developer and a proud Basenji owner. His specialties are Kentico CMS/EMS and Kentico Cloud.

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