Liferay Digital Experience Platform Review

Open source portal platform for multiple user access, but the integration and configuration need to be simplified


What is our primary use case?

We have two primary use cases for this solution between two installations. One is being used as a national business portal, and the other is used as an archival and preservation system.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the content manager, where you can configure events, the archival and preservation feature, and the workflow feature where before the document is scanned and awaiting approval to be archived, the chief archivist can provide an opinion of whether the content is of preservation value or archival value. He puts a comment in the workflow.

We chose Liferay because it is open-source and that we can make any number of users apply, register into the system and use the system, as opposed to other solutions where the cost is based on user licenses.  This is one of the most attractive features.

What needs improvement?

The integration area needs to be improved. It needs to be more user-friendly.

The integration and configuration need to be simplified. If for example, I had to configure the application to a payment module, especially in the business licensing system, it would be better if we could have a feature that would require less code to enable easy integration with other systems.

The end-user requires training, some knowledge transfer is needed. It has been proven to be a challenge, because we don't have any in Tanzania, and we don't have a data center for Liferay.

In the next release, the integration capabilities need to be easier to use by someone who is not as technical. Also, when it comes to troubleshooting, the logs need to be published on a page that's easier to use rather than going to a folder somewhere.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution since 2016.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We are using Enterprise Edition 6 and I know that it is not the latest edition available, but so far, this edition of this solution is stable. We have not experienced any issues. Later, with an increased number of users, there may be some issues. We don't know, but for now, it's good.

Anyone in Tanzania who wants to register for a business license has to log into the system. There are many users. Just to give you some statistics 30,000 people have applied for business licenses and 8,000 have been issued. The remainder 20,000+ are waiting for their applications that are still in the workflow.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The reason Liferay Digital Experience was chosen over other products was the fact that we did not have to pay for user licenses. Liferay supported an infinite number of users.

The business case for the application was the business community in Tanzania to be able to register in the portal and apply for a business license. So however much the users of the system grow we are confident Liferay shall handle the load without any issues

So in terms of scalability, my answer is that Liferay is okay.

In terms of hardware we have multiple servers. The setup we had was for purposes of having improved responsiveness and availability.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not received support from Liferay because we have done everything through the integrator. We would prefer to have our people trained than getting support from Liferay itself.

This is something we are working on at the SLA level.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

As a national business portal, it is used as a content management solution and we have not used any other solution. For the archival and preservation system, we used an application called Saperion Enterprise Content Management System. 

When compared to Saperion Enterprise Content Management System it can support more users without having an impact on the cost. That was favorable for us because we need any researcher anywhere in the world to be able to access the Tanzania  National Archive without having any cost on the software. We chose Liferay mainly because of that.

How was the initial setup?

Based on the document specifications, it was time-consuming because of the nature of the deployment. 

Before even looking at Liferay, the system requirements took six months because we use different stakeholders from different government institutions and other stakeholders from the private sector. 

The configuration of Liferay took six weeks.

Another task that took a lot of time was deployment because once it was set up, different people had to start testing the application. This took a lot of time because all of the different stakeholders had to be given time to test it. 

Overall, it took a year, with ten staff to deploy and maintain.

We haven't had any issues with our deployment of Liferay.

What about the implementation team?

We used Melink to help with the implementation. The experience with them was fair.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's an open-source structure.

The licensing cost was a one-off. Other costs are for professional services to integrate Liferay to other existing systems. Those are the main costs and also costs related to deployment, setting up the load balancing, and later on having to configure the disaster recovery site. These are all related costs to the deployment of Liferay in different scenarios.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We knew of applications like Drupal, but we did some research through Google. We settled on Liferay because of it's open-source functionality and our end-user was keen on getting an open-source platform. It was exactly what Liferay offered.

We didn't have extensive comparison tests with other platforms or applications.

What other advice do I have?

With any application, the number one thing is to get the requirements-gathering stage done well, to identify your requirements to do your analysis properly.

The requirements gathering needs to be very thorough and all-inclusive. All stakeholders need to be involved.

Get a good company for the implementation.

You must have the proper hardware sizing.

I would recommend Liferay for any company that is looking at deploying an enterprise-wide content management system. I would recommend Liferay any day, anytime.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

Enterprise Solution 6
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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