ConnectedWeddings.com Makes Planning Easier via Facebook Integration

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May 13, 2009

Customer: Ingres Corporation

Geography: North America
Country: United States


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Background:

As Facebook seeks to expand beyond purely social networking, New Gravity Ventures enters the market with ConnectedWeddings.com, a Facebook application that offers an innovative and easier way to plan weddings. The new application enables couples anywhere to use Facebook, an iPhone or the Web to manage planning tasks and create a customized, professional looking wedding page-all for free.The two most important criteria for the Facebook application were scalability and the ability to derive optimal value from the content and present it to consumers in unique ways. New Gravity Ventures also required a solution that would empower end-users with the tools they need to fully take advantage of the application’s social networking capability.Rivet Logic chose Alfresco as the content management platform for ConnectedWeddings.com because of its ability to support content-rich applications. Rivet Logic deployed a solution based on an open source infrastructure stack that included the Alfresco content management platform, JBoss Enterprise Middleware and the Ingres Database on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Business Challenge:

In May 2007, Facebook, the popular social utility tool for connecting people with friends and others around them, embarked on a strategy to make it easier for outside companies to provide their services on pages within the Facebook online community and enable them to interact with Facebook’s users and their personal networks. For Facebook, the strategy marked a significant step toward taking the business beyond pure social utility and into broader commercial territory.


To grow the application ecosystem, Facebook established the fbFund in September 2007 and began accepting grant applications to support innovative development ideas. By helping remove the development barrier, Facebook sought to build compelling businesses on the platform and broaden the scope and utility of the tool.

Solution:

Developing a next-generation consumer application based on open source.

Enter New Gravity Ventures. During a 2005 trip to India, Dan and Stacy Kerzner, co-founders of consumer application developer New Gravity Ventures, were struck by the rapid pace of change in India’s retail and consumer markets. Inspired by that trip, Dan and Stacy launched Trendy.in, a free daily lifestyle newsletter designed to offer smart, fashion-conscious women-from the college-age teen to women in their 40s-the best of what’s happening around India from a woman’s point of view. The site is currently up and running with in three cities-Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore. As a result of the attention New Gravity Ventures garnered from Trendy.in, the company received a commission to write Wedding Belles: How to Make Your Dream Wedding Come True, a book about wedding planning scheduled to be published in the fall of 2008 by Random House.

“Rivet Logic’s deep Alfresco expertise was a great fit for us; we now have an end-toend open source platform that will enable us to scale quickly and cost effectively” – Dan Kerzner, CEO of New Gravity Ventures

Having retained the Web publishing rights to the book, New Gravity Ventures began thinking about ways in which it might best leverage the book’s content. It was at this time that the company turned to Facebook and applied for the company’s fbFund grant in an effort to “make a wedding application that leverages social networking functionality in order to help couples organize their lives and gain productivity through use of the social networking tool,” said Kerzner. Shortly thereafter, New Gravity Ventures became one of the first recipients of an fbFund grant and began architecting the application. To launch a successful commercial social application for Facebook, Kerzner knew that he needed a development partner who could help address several key challenges, including: the ability to fully leverage the value of the existing content; the need to develop an easily scalable solution that would provide a foundation for additional Web 2.0 functionality, such as user-generated content capability; and the ability to integrate the Facebook platform’s unique features. “With Web-based businesses, good monetization and the ability to make the most of the content assets require agility,” said Kerzner. “We’ve seen that some of the existing players in the space are spending a lot of money on their CMS systems to make them as flexible as possible in order to respond to sales needs and not just view content in a static way.”

Developing a scalable and agile Alfresco content management solution to power ConnectedWeddings.com

Perhaps the two most important criteria for the Facebook application were scalability and the ability to derive optimal value from the book’s content and present it to consumers in unique ways. New Gravity Ventures also required a solution that would empower end-users with the tools they need to fully take advantage of the application’s social networking capability. Understanding that he would need a development partner with deep open source expertise, Kerzner selected Rivet Logic, an Alfresco Certified Gold “Partner of the Year” and JBoss Certified Partner, to create a scalable and agile content delivery system based on an open source platform that would be flexible enough to address continued growth and additional features moving forward. “Rivet Logic’s ability to optimize the value of the content and build applications that scale easily made working with them a great fit,” said Kerzner.

Rivet Logic chose Alfresco as the content management platform for ConnectedWeddings.com because of its ability to support content-rich applications. Rivet Logic deployed a solution based on an open source infrastructure stack that included the Alfresco content management platform, JBoss Enterprise Middleware and the Ingres Database. The Alfresco-based Web application also supports collaboration and community functionality, such as forums, discussion threads, photo galleries, polls, and other ways for brides and grooms to contact others and facilitate communication. In this way, ConnectedWeddings.com serves as a model of the increasing significance of content services in the Web 2.0 environment and how content is connected to people in the context of social networking.

Rivet Logic led the overall architectural design of the platform. The solution design enables the Alfresco platform to publish content to an Alfresco and JBoss production Web site that integrates not only with Facebook for social network interaction, but also with an array of applications such as Web site analytics and based on an open source infrastructure stack that included the Alfresco content management platform, JBoss Enterprise Middleware and the Ingres Database. The Alfresco-based Web application also supports collaboration and community functionality, such as forums, discussion threads, photo galleries, polls, and other ways for brides and grooms to contact others and facilitate communication. In this way, ConnectedWeddings. com serves as a model of the increasing significance of content services in the Web 2.0 environment and how content is connected to people in the context of social networking.

Alfresco also provided the flexibility and agility necessary to accommodate multiple end-users and templates. With the Alfresco solution, the ConnectedWeddings.com editorial team can generate content and upload it to the site quickly and easily. Further, with single sign-on support across the application, Web-based administration, and the ability to easily integrate dynamic Web pages and portlets, JBoss Enterprise Application Platofrom offered the scalable enterprise-grade solution that New Gravity Ventures needed moving forward. Alfresco provided a robust back-end solution that features sophisticated workflows, rich metadata modeling, full-text and metadata search capability, and support for rich content, including audio and video.

The Ingres Database was selected because of its track record of high performance and scalability in mission-critical environments, and because of the advantageous economics that open source software offers over proprietary alternatives. Ingres is also a certified Alfresco database partner which helped to shorten development timelines and simplify deployment.

A cost-effective, zero-license-fee approach based on open source and open standards will enable New Gravity Ventures to scale the platform to meet user demand, without incurring prohibitive costs. As a result, the open source approach will also allow New Gravity Ventures to minimize upfront investment and focus efforts on customization and innovation. The open source model will establish a foundation from which to reduce operating costs and accommodate future extensions.

Rivet Logic-Developing open source solutions for the next generation of social networking applications

For New Gravity Ventures, Rivet Logic’s combination of deep technical knowledge, and experience designing and implementing innovative open source applications proved to be a winning combination.

“We were building a unique, socially aware application so we needed a trusted development partner who had a proven track record of building rock-solid solutions,” said Kerzner. The launch of ConnectedWeddings.com makes Alfresco the first platform of its kind to form the backbone of a content-intensive Facebook application.

Critical to the success of ConnectedWeddings.com is the ability to scale and integrate Web 2.0 functionality, such as discussion threads, photo galleries, polls and other forms of user-generated content. Alfresco enables site editors to create and upload content quickly and easily, while allowing end-users to participate in community activities, reference site features easily, and communicate with other users through the power of social networking. Ultimately, Rivet Logic provided an objective view of the unique challenges faced by New Gravity Ventures and delivered a solution based on a set of proven best practices and an understanding of the unique needs of the ConnectedWeddings.com site.

ABOUT RIVET LOGIC
Rivet Logic is an award-winning consulting and systems integration firm that helps organizations better engage with customers, improve collaboration and streamline business operations. Through a full suite of open source content management services, Rivet Logic enables organizations to fully leverage the power of industry-leading open source solutions. With deep expertise in the Alfresco Enterprise Content Management platform, Liferay Portal, Ingres Database and JBoss Enterprise Middleware, Rivet Logic crafts content-rich solutions that power the new generation of Web properties, Enterprise 2.0 applications and collaborative communities. With offices in Reston, Virginia and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Rivet Logic serves clients across a wide range of industries. Rivet Logic-Artisans of Open Source.

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