Back during my 'objective CMS evaluation consulting' days with another
consulting firm, it was pretty common to have a 'short list' of
recommended CMS solutions to have clients evaluate. I, of course,
always tried to have Plone on that list, because usually the
requirements from clients large and small could be met by Plone, but
those days, open source was only widely accepted at the infrastructure
layer (Linux for OS, maybe JBoss as application server), and it was a
tougher sell (to IT folks only, really) to pitch 'enterprise'
application solutions that were open source and/or that were based on
Python, a not-so-widely accepted 'enterprise' development language
The typical 'short lists' looked like this:
Enterprise CMS list:
Vignette (becoming OpenText)
Documentum (now EMC)
Stellent (acquired by Oracle)
BroadVision (wow, that's going back; only on list because we had a lot
of experience with the portal delivery side of BV)
RedDot (acquired by OpenText)
Plone (it couldn't hurt to get it more exposure and to show clients
that we were knowledgeable of solid FOSS options other consultancies
didn't even know of)
Windows/.NetShops CMS list:
RedDot (.Net for CMS, but Java-basd for portal delivery engine; Used
to be just a nice looking and easy-to-use CMS, but very feature-rich
nCompass Labs (a really nice CMS that was purchased by M$ and became
'CMS 2002', which seemed to then get killed in favor of Sharepoint.
Ektron (low-end cost .Net option, but also more limited
Plone (Realized Plone project wins after pitching it head-to-head
against the commercial tools)
Affordable/Open Source CMS List:
Ektron (especially attractive to Windows shops)
Joomla (for only very simple CMS requirements; basically to 'add
Since Plone continued to beat out other open source tools when clients
had more demanding functional equirements, we eventually slimmed that
last list down to Ektron vs. Plone
Notice that Sharepoint wasn't even on our list at the time, as we
strictly as more of a 'DMS' (Document Management System) that could be
used on Intranet projects. Later on, my company bought a Microsoft
integrator that provided Sharepoint services, so that became a bigger
part of our offering, but wasn't really part of the public-facing web
CMS (WCMS) list of options we came to the table with. It probably is
something my old company leads with now, though.
So, we had 'short lists' or recommended tools clients should consider
that were based upon client and expected budget size, but also that
based upon these other criteria that I believe come into play:
Decision Maker - IT vs. Marketing:
If Marketing, we were more likely to get to propose/implement open
source/Plone because they just want a great, feature-rich 'solution'
the best price, and don't care about whether it's written in Java or
.Net or whatever the standard skill set is of IT. Much of the time,
marketing wants to side-step IT and hire contractors and get support
from the CMS vendor anyhow.
Open Source Adoption Likelihood:
Again, if talking to Marketing/PR, this is less of an issue, but in
discussing options with IT, we would attempt to determine to what
they might already be using open source, and how difficult a sell this
would be, not just for us, but for the internal group trying to get
project approved (Marketing, Human Resources, etc.)
Magic Quadrant Effect:
If a client is starting off with, say the Gartner 'Magic Quadrant' ECM
Report or the Forrester 'Wave' Report (for which they've already paid
thousands), then they are less likely to have heard of open source CMS
tools (though this is slowly changing and we need to push for coverage
of Plone), and are focusing in on 'enterprise' type software and
have the corresponding budget size in mind as well.
See the Gartner Report
See an older Forrester Report here and notice coverage of Alfresco
Some clients (especially IT managers) will only blindly follow these
reports. It's called 'managing risk-to-resume' and is akin to the old
addage that 'nobody ever got fired for buying solutions from IBM'. At
least that's an old addage in the Midwest U.S., where 'Big Blue' was
always king during the mainframe days. So, IT managers see risk in
going with solutions not in the 'magic quadrant' and if we perceived
that, we knew that recommending open source was going to be more
difficult unless we could really get the business department
et al) to push hard for it.
Since this is the Plone Evangelism list, I think some things to take
1) Research Coverage:
We should do what we can to contact Gartner, Forrester, Jupiter, and
other research firms to see what we can do to get Plone represented by
their research. What benchmarks do they use to determine which
cover? Is Alfresco covered because it has a corporate face/backing
2) Comparison Sheets:
We should provide comparison sheets that, rather than being general
enough to cover evaluations at the 'high end' and at the 'low end',
targeted comparisons at each end, and in the middle. For a CMS
comparison of open source tools only, Idealware.org has already done
much of the work for us. Basically, indicating that all of the
open source CMS tools that make it to organizations' short lists are
viable, but that the more complex functionality a client needs, the
they need Plone. A summary grid such as the one they present in their
report would be very nice to have for each targeted 'short list' we
would want to market. Of course, it's better when an objective third
party does it, but since Plone isn't getting much public coverage in
comparison to commercial tools, we may need to do some of this
ourselves. The CMSWatch.com reports DO cover commercial and open
tools, so maybe the foundation should purchase a report (and others)
then publish its own 'summary report' or something that doesn't
with any report's license.
I have just this week been asked to come up with my own Ektron vs.
comparison report for an IT integrator that knows Plone is a better
for their client than Ektron, but needs the specific criteria that
proves this. It's not the first time I've been asked for such a
by someone who is a project champion and who wants to navigate around
questions about open source or python or whether it can run on
Windows/Linux or how to host it easily/affordably (without hiring a
Python or Linux expert), etc. It could help Plone integrators to have
such marketing answers/collateral.
The most commonly requested comparisons for our firm and that I think
would be most helpful are:
Plone vs. Drupal (I can now thankfully point clients to the
Idealware.org report that was produced by an objective party)
Plone vs. Sharepoint
Plone vs. Ektron
3) Client Testimonies:
Contact clients that we know chose Plone over other (commercial or
source) CMS tools and ask them if they'd be willing to do an interview
or to fill out a survey that asks how they believe Plone vs. CMS X
compared in terms of various factors typical of normal evaluations.
It would also be really powerful to survey our past clients and
'average' numbers for small, medium, and large-sized projects, when
implemented with Plone integrators versus what clients were quoted
(ranges, not actual numbers) from commercial vendors. My experience
with the commercial vendors (outside of Ektron) is that a client is
typically looking at $250K on up just to get a 'Quick Start' package,
where the integrator implements one section of the website and
a week of training, so the client can have their own staff finish the
rest, or pay a lot more in fees to have it finished for them.
4) Cost Comparison Collateral:
It'd also be helpful to have an hourly rate schedule comparison of
'certified' commercial vendor integrators vs. Plone integrator firms
(leaving freelancers out of the equation so as not to compare apples
I've been seeing topics for webinars from vendors such as IBM, Oracle,
and others similar to 'The Hidden Costs of Open Source' or 'Open
Doesn't Come Free'. Sure a Plone implementation is going to cost
something for the consulting time, but it'd be useful to have an
project costs comparison chart as well as an hourly consulting
comparison chart, because generally the commercial vendors are going
charge $150-250/hr for services, while Plone services are typically
under even their low number and decision-makers need to see and
This point is especially important as a decision-maker looks at the
3-year project cost. After implementation, a firm going with a
commercial solution is going to pay annual license fees and is going
continue to pay higher hourly consulting fees, so the long-term costs
are even more drastically higher for a commercial system. Many
organizations are silly and only look at year-1 implementation costs
let the following years' costs be ignored during the selection
Add these surveys/interviews to the Case Studies section of Plone.net.
Or, possibly even better, once we have some of these, create a new
section on Plone.net called Client Testimonials that are interviews
clients (especially focusing on the CMS evaluation/selection process)
rather than just project recaps that focus purely on what was done
Plone was it was selected.
6) Plone Foundation Advertising via Google Ads:
Once we have client testimonials to point prospects/leads to, I'd
recommend having the Plone Foundation provide limited funding for some
Google Ads that would appear when people search for 'content
systems', 'open source cms', 'plone', and similar terms. The ads
have eye-catching teaser titles such as 'Why did NASA select the Plone
CMS?' There actually is a nice interview-style recap of the Plone
selection/implementation process from someone at NASA, by the way. I
recall Jon Stahl's blog or a tweet referring to it. Nice 3-part read.
If we could even get 3-4 such testimonials, I think it'd be a very
powerful and persuasive area for Plone.net and Plone would probably
benefit from teasers to this directly from the Plone.org home page.
I hope this wasn't just a walk down memory lane for me, and can help
provide some perspective for those on the list who have worked
exclusively with Plone in the CMS space.
President and CMS Solution Architect
Matt Hamilton (via Nabble) wrote:
On 23 Jul 2009, at 09:34, Matt Hamilton wrote:
On 21 Jul 2009, at 21:00, Matt Hamilton wrote:
Janus Boye just published an article entitled 'Is Plone a Good
A fairly even article saying basically 'Danish Govt say Plone is a
good CMS, but is it fair that they pick one?'
There are some fantastic comments at the bottom of this post now by
Martin Aspeli and Ken Wasetis. Great work guys, some nice insights
into 'big firm' consulting and how they go about things.
In a further development on this, I privately emailed Janus to ask
"One question to a point slightly raised on your
post. You mention that Plone consulting companies are generally quite
small. How does this compare to the other Open Source systems you
mentioned, ie. Umbraco, Liferay, Typo3? Do they have larger
As I was genuinely interested to see if Plone consulting companies
*really* smaller than others, or if it is just a perception thing.
response as this:
"I would say Umbraco has been the most successful in attracting
consulting companies. I am speculating this may be due to large
consultancies with .NET skills using Umbraco as a low-end
commercial systems such as EPiServer and Sitecore.
Let me know your thoughts and then I'll write a blog about it."
This is a very interesting point. So he is saying that there are some
larger companies using other .NET CMSs such as EPiServer and
but when that company needs to do something low end they are using
So is this a good thing? What does it mean to the Plone community?
there companies out there that say something like 'We normally use
Vignette, but in this smaller case we will use Plone'?
At the moment I think we are often trying to pitch against the big
boys saying our system can do everything they can. But maybe the
message that Umbraco is using is 'we are lighter/smaller/quicker/
cheaper etc' than the big boys. I know in reality Plone can/does use
What are your thoughts? I want to gather them up to send to Janus.
Matt Hamilton [hidden email]
Netsight Internet Solutions, Ltd. Understand. Develop.
http://www.netsight.co.uk +44 (0)117
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