NATO

Rapid CMS development and deployment for mission­ critical web publishing needs­­ operating under the requirements of a secure networking platform

NATO NHSQ Website

Rapid CMS development that meets NATO's secure networking requirements

Providing agility and productivity in a security-focused environment

At NATO's Special Operations Forces' Headquarters (NSHQ) in Belgium, security is a top priority—and that extends to securing their network, servers, and web infrastructure. When it came time for them to deploy a new content management system, their solution architect, made a list of the requirements the secure CMS would have to meet. Naturally, the site would serve as the public's view into NATO's operations, but it also had to handle the needs of internal users. The new CMS would be the primary hub to organize all aspects of their training programs from course catalogs and calendars to registration and online participation.

Given the risks faced by a high­profile military organization, the CMS needed to conform with their existing secure server and network infrastructure. The secure CMS had to be compatible with their multi­platform technology too. As a rule, the web team believed in picking the best solution to any given problem, so they weren't committed to a single platform. The web publishing CMS they were looking for had to integrate easily with PHP, Sharepoint, and the other technology solutions they had already deployed. And of course, it was important that the CMS would allow IT team members to easily and rapidly develop new web sites. Once the sites were up, NSHQ's web team wanted to enable their users to create and publish content on their own, without the need for technical support

On all these counts, Mura CMS fit the bill.

"When I got here six years ago, I said, "We're going to pick the best technology solution for any problem we face, based on money and features, regardless of platform." For some things, CFML is better. For others, it's Sharepoint. We even have a couple PHP apps. Mura works with them all."

A Secure CMS for a Secure Network

?Security is a primary concern for the IT team at NSHQ. As a multi­national defense organization, hackers from around the world target them for political reasons, to test their mettle against difficult targets, and to establish their credibility by breaking through the security measures at a high­profile organization. But whatever their motives, it's imperative to make sure they don't succeed.

With Mura as their content management system, the NSHQ's web servers received a secure certification from NCI Information Systems, Inc.—a leading provider of enterprise solutions and services to US and international defense, intelligence, and civilian government organizations. And in terms of internal security needs, Mura's built­in permissions capabilities make sure that documents, schedules, and user privileges are protected and accessible only to the people who need them.

"Security is a serious issue for us. We have to be sure hackers can't get to the database or do anything with our data. With Mura, we passed NCI Agency security testing and earned the certificate of security we needed."

Getting It Done

Members of NATO's Special Operations Forces rely on their website to take care of day­to­day and long­term operational tasks. One of the most important is managing the thousands of training opportunities offered to Special Operations Forces personnel by NATO and its affiliated agencies. With over 17,000 distinct training­focused web pages—representing past, ongoing, and future training activities—there's a lot of information for NSHQ's CMS to handle at once.

But Mura CMS manages it all, integrating seamlessly with Sharepoint, PHP, and custom plugins built by NSHQ's IT team. Special Operations Forces members can view training sessions on a calendar and register right there. Then Mura automatically feeds the information into NSHQ's training recordkeeping system and routes requests into the approval workflows. That way the people in charge can see what's going on in dashvoard, and since the pages are responsive they can get the information they need whether they're on a mobile device, desktop or tablet. When new staff joins the NSHQ, the HR team counts on automated Mura processes to begin building new staff HR accounts. Every step of the way, Mura streamlines workflows and allows NSHQ staff to focus on mission­critical tasks, rather than administrative chores.

Rapid CMS Development and Training

Mura CMS also makes NSHQ's IT team's job easier. When a request for a new site is placed, , NATO web development team members simply use Mura's ability to rapidly create a new site from a model, and update the CSS. With Mura CMS they've cut the time required to launch a site
from over a week to less than a day. Each of NSHQ's six sites have similar visual styles, but Mura implements different color schemes, so users can tell which site they're on—but they're all consistent with NSHQ's corporate branding.

With a 33% yearly turnover rate in the NATO user base, making sure users have the skills and permissions they need to get the job done can be a challenge. Thankfully, Mura has helped the IT department find a solution. Mura's focus on usability means that new users—often non­native English speakers, from different countries across Europe—can perform their duties with simple UIs and task wizards that walk them through the process.

And when new personnel come on­board, the staff members they are replacing train them and then give them the appropriate permissions, eliminating two more time­consuming IT tasks. Mura's intuitive interface helped NSHQ create a secure human network to take care of the information that needs to be created and shared on the website. IT can focus on developing new features and programming, no
longer worried about being constantly distracted by content management.

"They told me on Monday they needed it by Friday. And by Monday afternoon, I was able to go, you guys, your site is live, here you go. And they were just over the top excited."

Mura Makes Front-End Content Management Easy

With six sites and over thousands of pages to maintain and the security concerns that go along with working at a high­profile military organization, the NSHQ lead developer and his eight­person team could easily spend their day maintaining systems, keeping the website online, and making sure internal users were able to do their jobs. But with Mura CMS, they can delegate many tasks to content creators, like training new users and creating new accounts.

And Mura simplifies other routine tasks. Web page creation takes a matter of minutes, not days. And Mura routes training requests into the approval and budgeting workflows automatically. Mura helped streamline NSHQ's operations by giving appropriate and secure power to users that maintain information hierarchies within a strict military structure.

Now, the NSHQ IT team is free to focus on the crucial big picture strategic issues that will shape their technology infrastructure in the years to come.