For the past three years, users entering the CRN.com url in search of the computer reseller site were redirected to another Everything Channel website, ChannelWeb.com.
But starting soon, CRN.com will again appear as its own, separate site. It will have an editorial focus, doing what CRN has always done: covering the channel.
ChannelWeb.com will continue, but it has been modified to serve a different purpose, providing interactive tools and applications to the channel to help computer resellers run their businesses. Additionally, Everything Channel has redesigned its IPED.com website, which is the home for the company's research, consulting and training businesses.
“The Internet is the type of medium that forces you to change your business model every two or three years,” said Bob Faletra, CEO of Everything Channel, which is a United Business Media company. Faletra said Everything Channel's digital revenue continues to increase and is on pace for 6%-to-7% growth this year.
The changes to Everything Channel's Internet strategy are driven in part by technology issues. “We had to get off the platform we were using,” Faletra said. “It's an old platform.”
But business reasons are also driving the change. One is the closure of VARBusiness, an Everything Channel print title that was shut down in early 2009. For the past three years, ChannelWeb also took the redirected traffic from VARBusiness.com in addition to the redirected traffic from CRN.com. The idea was to have a central Web destination for the channel audience, which was served both by CRN and VARBusiness.
With the VARBusiness brand gone, Faletra wanted to leverage the CRN brand online. “The reality is that CRN.com is the one that drives the vast majority of the traffic,” he said.
Faletra also wanted the new site to feature more online video opportunities for both editorial and advertisers. Additionally, he wanted to make the interactive tools and applications aimed at computer resellers and housed on ChannelWeb more readily accessible and not mixed in with news content.
“There are a couple of things I've wanted to do for a long time—not only build a great content site but provide a number of tools to our audience to help them run their businesses,” Faletra said.
ChannelWeb has been relaunched as a site offering such interactive tools, including a job board and PromotionFinder, which helps resellers find products and services being promoted by industry vendors. Everything Channel has also partnered with MyVBO (Virtual Business Office) to provide other back-office business tools.
While business changes made reworking the websites necessary, the aging nature of the platform contributed to the timing of the changes. “We faced a product that was at the end of life, not a good thing,” said Sam Schneider, Everything Channel's CIO.
Schneider said support for the ATG Dynamo platform was becoming expensive. In building the new sites, Schneider opted for open source.
The new sites were built with UNIX Java. They also feature the JBOSS application server and Apache HTTP Server.
However, Everything Channel kept its current content management system, which is Autonomy Interwoven's TeamSite. “It was working for us. Changing it would have been a solution in search of a problem,” Schneider said.
Faletra wouldn't comment on the amount of investment in the changes, but he said he is pleased with the results on the sites, which he said feature a cleaner, more easily navigable design.
“It wasn't cheap,” he said. “I'm not at liberty to talk about how much it cost. It was more than I would have liked, but I also wanted it to be done right.”