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Choosing the Best E-Commerce Solution for your Joomla Site

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Many of our clients have a Joomla site because they want to feature their products and services with a shopping cart, checkout system, payment processing merchant or payment gateway. There are many options out there and clients should be well informed before getting started. Listen to my conversation with a client or read the steps that follow to learn more.

 

 

Step 1: Determine your Payment Handling Approach

  • Onsite payment processing handles the entire payment process on your website. The customer will never leave your e-commerce website when buying something. When using an onsite checkout system, you're responsible for maintaining a secure website (having a valid SSL certificate and keeping your software up-to-date). You may also be required to pass regular PCI-DSS compliance scans and work with your bank to set up the onsite payment processing. Popular onsite payment processing services include:
  • Offiste payment processing takes your customers to a secure, offsite webpage managed by a payment processing merchant. The payment processing merchant is responsible for the security of the payment process for the offsite checkout process. Popular offiste payment merchants include:

Step 2: Ponder a few Questions

  1. How many items do you want to sell? If you don’t have a lot of items for sale, you may want a simple offsite payment gateway instead of an entire shopping cart component.
  2. Are you shipping to other countries? If you're selling or shipping overseas or to another country, you'll want to find a shopping cart that helps you calculate the shipping rates accordingly. Some components allow you to work directly with UPS or FedEx to determine shipping rates.
  3. What's your refund/return policy? If you're selling something on your site, you're legally responsible for posting the terms of your return/refund policies. Your shopping cart may help you with this or you can post this information somewhere on your site.

Step 3: Select a Joomla Extension

Make sure you pay close attention to the payment processing merchants they support. We recommend the following components:

These are only a few of the shopping carts available in the Joomla marketplace. Some of the options above are free while others are commercial. If you are going to need help setting up your shopping cart, it’s best to go with a commercial extension, but make sure you ask if support is included with your purchase. We suggest you take a look at the full list of Joomla e-commerce extensions and the list of Joomla payment gateway extensions in order to find the shopping cart or payment system that works right for you. Please keep in mind that every extension supports different payment processing merchants. If you’re a client of ours, you’re also encouraged to submit a support ticket and call our support team to ask about which type of solution might be right for you.

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CloudAccess.net Partner Stories: Red Sage Communications, Inc.

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Red Sage Communications, Inc. is an award-winning web services company based out of Decatur, Alabama. They provide everything from graphic design to branding, website development and marketing. They are really a one-stop-shop for brand building, marketing, SEO, and web development, and they have a very broad client base. CloudAccess.net is proud to call Red Sage a partner, and the story behind that partnership is quite interesting.

Red Sage was founded in 2006 by Ellen Didier. When they opened, the company used a proprietary product, ExpWeb by SunGard for website development. At the time ExpWeb made building sites efficient and relatively easy for the staff of novice programmers. However, SunGard eventually chose to package ExpWeb with some of their other products and it was no longer a stand-alone piece of software. At that point they stopped supporting it with even basic functionality and support patches.

With that little shove from SunGard, Red Sage decided it was time to circle the wagons and review other options. After a few days of looking at various choices the team narrowed it down to three: Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla. After many pro/con lists and discussions, they settled on Joomla due to the large community that was behind the project. Teresa Smith, Red Sage Web Products Coordinator, said, “we were able to find extensions that did things our clients needed, both effectively and at a great price point.”

With that decision behind them they began looking for seminars and classes to help get through the learning curve as well as become involved with the community to find out things like what hosting companies were best, which ones to avoid, etc. With the support of Ellen (aka Dragon Lady), Teresa traveled to the CMS Expo in Denver in November 2008 to learn about Joomla and hopefully meet some people in-the-know, and in a twist of fate, it’s there where she first met Gary Brooks, then the founder of MichiganMedia.net, an ISP in Northern Michigan.

Teresa said, “I don’t know how we would have gotten to the point where we’re at without Gary’s hand holding. He spent lots of time with us, walking us through the Joomla installation process, explaining the content management system and sharing resources to help us get started.” Happy with their choice in Joomla, Teresa returned to Red Sage to share what she had learned. They contacted Steve Burge at OSTraining for additional Joomla training and from there set out to find a suitable host for their newly developed Joomla sites.

They found a host in late 2008, at which time MichiganMedia.net hadn't yet evolved into CloudAccess.net. Red Sage was developing in Joomla 1.5 and building with hired front end development talent through MichiganMedia.net, taking Photoshop designs and having them custom programmed for Joomla through the Real Design Process. They were hosting on a dedicated server elsewhere, but weren’t completely satisfied with the level of support that hosting company provided. In the meantime MichiganMedia.net had become CloudAccess.net and began to offer hosting services.

Once again, positive change is brought about by necessity when Red Sage began to create a plan for all the 1.5 sites they were hosting. They knew their current hosting company wasn’t going to be of much help in the migration process and they knew what great support they had received from CloudAccess.net in the past. So, a conference call with Gary Brooks was scheduled to discuss options.

Gary took the time to talk Ellen and Teresa through the options of hosting with CloudAccess.net as well as the pros and cons. The CloudAccess.net Partner Program was the perfect fit! Great support, great pricing, and a relationship with someone they knew they could count on! The next challenge was to move the existing sites from their current server to CloudAccess.net, as well as take the 1.5 sites through the upgrade process to Joomla 2.5. CloudAccess.net was able to assist in the migration as well. Red Sage ultimately moved 49 websites from their previous hosting company to CloudAccess.net and have since upgraded most of those sites to version 2.5.



Teresa said, “if you’re hosting a Joomla site, there is no other better solution. As a client of CloudAccess.net, you’re treated with respect, and they’re great at solving problems.” The Red Sage team is pictured above.

You can learn more about Red Sage Communications, Inc. by visiting www.redsageonline.com . CloudAccess.net has several partner types, and Red Sage is a Reseller. Resellers offer a redistribution of CloudAccess.net hosting services, but they support and bill their own clients for that service. It's kind of like setting up your own hosting company. We supply our Resellers a drastically reduced monthly shared hosting cost, and they sell that hosting service for any price they choose and they do their own billing. For example, if you're a web developer, you can bundle hosting with development together into one package. Resellers pay the low flat rate for hosting and provide their own support, but they have access to our 24/7 Insane Support.

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Upcoming Google Search Engine Changes & your Joomla Site

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Matt Cutts, Google chief webspam manager, announced last week that a new Google Penguin update is just weeks away. He said that this algorithm update - "Penguin 2.0" - will be deeper and more far-reaching in tackling 'black hat' SEO techniques than previous changes. This will affect the way the Google Crawler reviews and places certain sites in the search index.

For most, this Google update will have no effect. But for some - like those that have content like a series of text links in a column with ads - you could lose huge rankings because Google will think you're trying to fool the search engine by putting paid links on your site. In fact, you could have a friendly Joomla company or a site linking to a friend’s site. Although what you’re doing seems fair to you, if the new Google Crawler “Penguin 2.0” does not like your work, it will punish you by forcing you to be lower in search engine rankings. Read Matt Cutts Talks SEO for Google: 9 Things You Should Expect This Summer if you want to learn more about these SEO updates. The article, by Search Engine Watch, provides a concise summary of the focal points that Cutts discusses in his video.

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Welcome Home: Xen becomes a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project and moves to a new home built by CloudAccess.net

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In April, Xen became a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project and unveiled a new community site at xenproject.org. Xen Project leaders worked closely with CloudAccess.net in the development of their new online home, built using Joomla.

The Xen Project is the open source community of developers that have contributed virtualization technologies licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPLv2). In the last 10 years, the Xen Project has produced many cloud technologies and “is the leading open source virtualization platform that is powering some of the largest clouds in production today. Xen powers Amazon Web Services, Rackspace Public Cloud and many hosting services.” CloudAccess.net is one of the countless cloud-based companies that benefits from Xen technologies. Thousands of users launch free trials of the Joomla CMS through our platform every month and the Xen Hypervisor is at the center of it all. It's the critical component that provisions compute and allows for Joomla application virtualization. 

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CloudAccess.net Selected to Present at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium

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Featured as a “Best of the Midwest” Growth Company at the Midwest’s Premier Venture Capital Conference

Ann Arbor, Mich. – May 13, 2013 – CloudAccess.net today announced that it has been selected to present at the 2013 Michigan Growth Capital Symposium. The company, an industry-leading Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering hosting and support for the Joomla! Content Management System, is among a roster of 36 promising, high-growth companies from the Midwest and beyond seeking funding in the next 12 months. CloudAccess.net will deliver its 10-minute presentation to attending investors, which include nearly 100 regional and top national venture capital firms, on Wednesday, May 22 at 10:30 a.m.

The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium is the oldest university-based venture capital fair and the premier Midwest networking event for leaders in venture capital investment to connect with emerging growth companies actively searching for partners and funding. Since 2001, the Symposium has provided nearly 400 companies with the opportunity to present to investors. Roughly 70 percent of these have raised capital totaling $1.7 billion in investments and nearly 20 percent have realized successful exits. More than 70 companies applied to present at the 2013 event and CloudAccess.net was selected following a rigorous review process.

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Managing Security: Trumping the Hacker

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A new CloudAccess.net platform security feature giving clients the ability manage and secure any version of Joomla

It’s an age old tale of good versus evil: you build an awesome Joomla site in the current version, time goes by, the version becomes outdated, you don’t upgrade and at some point a smart hacker finds a way to break into your older Joomla site. You’ve heard the story a hundred times.

The initial knee jerk reaction is to panic, curse the heavens and ask “how could this have happened?” And the answer, from our perspective, is all too common. What we see is that 99% of the time, a hacker takes over a site by injecting something into your database like a spam attack or some other unwanted content. They are able to do this because your code has a flaw because you have a version of Joomla that has reached the end of life.

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Joomla! in the Classroom: Students and Instructors Finding Success with Joomla through the CloudAccess.net Platform

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Helping educators put Joomla in the hands of thousands of students worldwide

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Passing PCI Compliance Scans in the Public Cloud

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This article was originally published in the March 2013 edition of the Michigan Cyber Initiative Newsletter. The actual newsletter is embedded at the bottom of this blog. The Michigan Cyber Initiative is the state of Michigan's official "action plan that offers clear approaches for safeguarding our families, protecting Michigan's infrastructure and shielding our economy." Because of our work with PCI cloud hosting environments, we were chosen to write the feature article in this newsletter. DevOps team members Christopher Ecklesdafer and Pawel Panek played a big role in the content of this article as did Jonathan Gafill, CloudAccess.net Project Manager.

To protect highly sensitive cardholder data, the Payment Card Industry Security Standard Council (PCI SSC) released 12 Top Level Data Security Standards (DSS). Financial organizations are required to validate their adherence to certain DSS requirements. Below is an overview of the 12 PCI DSS requirements.

Control ObjectivesPCI DSS Requirements
Build and Maintain a Secure NetworkRequirement 1: Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
Requirement 2: Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
Protect Cardholder DataRequirement 3: Protect stored cardholder data
Requirement 4: Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks
Maintain a Vulnerability Management ProgramRequirement 5: Use and regularly update anti-virus software
Requirement 6: Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
Implement Strong Access Control MeasuresRequirement 7: Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know
Requirement 8: Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access
Requirement 9: Restrict physical access to cardholder data
Regularly Monitor and Test NetworksRequirement 10: Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
Requirement 11: Regularly test security systems and processes
Maintain an Information Security PolicyRequirement 12: Maintain a policy that addresses information security

There are over 130 Approved Scanning Vendors (ASVs) that can be used to detect vulnerabilities found in a public cloud. CloudAccess.net, a Michigan-based Platform as a Service (PaaS), used McAfee and Comodo to perform security scans on targeted hosting environments. Using the results, the company adjusted server specifications to pass subsequent scans, ultimately helping several clients validate the security of their content including Reliance Bank, a full service bank with twenty branches in the St. Louis metropolitan region, and CIMA (the Center for Information Management and Assurance), an organization that aims to elevate the information security community. CloudAccess.net is helping clients pass ASV scans on an individual basis, but the company is developing an automated PCI-DSS hosting layer that can be applied to any environment with a click of a mouse.

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400,000 Demo Joomla! Websites Launched Through CloudAccess.net

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Last week the 400,000th demo trial of Joomla was launched through the CloudAccess.net platform, less than three years after we became the official host of demo.joomla.org. Open Source Matters awarded us the contract to host demo.joomla.org in April of 2010, and we're very grateful to be able to provide such a valuable service to the entire Joomla community. We're also fortunate to have been able to put Joomla at the heart of our company and build around it. Read more about the history of CloudAccess.net.

Our platform wasn't perfect at first. There were some bumps in the road, but over time we've dramatically improved the automated provisioning process, scaling our servers for faster Joomla sites all while keeping up with each new version of the CMS as it was released. We've also developed an industry-leading Joomla support system in the process - clients can submit a support ticket, use our live chat feature or call us directly to get answers to core Joomla questions.

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CloudAccess.net 2012: Year in Review

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We’ve all been told that “you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” 2012 was a wild year for us, and before we get too far into 2013, we wanted to reflect on everything we did in the last year.

January: Goodbye Joomla 1.7, Hello Cloudy

In January we updated our own site to Joomla 2.5 and started offering 2.5 demo trial sites to all of our clients. All of our knowledgebase content and webinars also started focusing on 2.5 material. Pawel Borowicz, our graphic artist, also came up with several variations of Cloudy, our mascot. 

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