On 23/11/2009, at 11:17 PM, Matt Hamilton wrote:

On 23 Nov 2009, at 08:07, Dylan Jay wrote:

All great points, and agree with you... one point specifically I have been noticing recently...

8) The party line on Acquia is that what's good for Acquia and Dries is good for Drupal. I saw not a hint of discomfort with that.

I think this is one of the most important points. Maybe it won't last, and maybe the community will suffer long term by Acquia making lots of money? Maybe Drupal will end up being vendor opensource with all its downsides? Who knows. In the medium term, as an Plone development company, I think Acquia gives Drupal an unfair advantage. Just the other day we had a very large organisation say they went with a proprietary solution because "we can't sue Plone" and decided this before we could even present to them or explain that opensource means you can purchase a plone solution from an integrator and then sue them if it goes wrong. We have liability insurance :) Acquia gives Drupal the perception of size and credibility to those who don't know any better. We can dismiss these risk adverse decision makers of big organisations but I think those people matter. I agree with Dries when he says "We should all agree that at the end of the day, success should be measured by the number of people working with Drupal, not by the number of people working on Drupal". Plone kicks Drupal and a lot of proprietary CMS butt, feature for feature but Acquia makes Drupal easier to sell by giving the perception of security. Anything we can do to help sell plone is good for plone otherwise we risk being "irrelevant".

... Acquia have shown up on a few 'Magic Quadrant' type lists from Analysts. Not Drupal, but Acquia. Now Plone is not listed there at all as it is just an Open Source 'project' and not a 'vendor' in the traditional analyst sense. That said I think that is an advantage ;) but I'm sure potential buyeers might not.

Someone recently pointed out that the role of most Gartner-type analysts is not to comment on the suitablity of the CMS to your particular organisation, but to just comment on whether the vendor is going to be around next year or not. Hence why 'Plone' is not on those lists as it is not a 'vendor', but it does make me think we do lose out a bit on mindshare as a result.

Let me give you a concrete example why this is a worry. Recently a state government main portal here was implemented using drupal even though there was some large sites already implemented in that government with Plone. Inside information said one of the main reasons was one of the big 5 analyst companies recommended Drupal (I think it might have been PWC).

Seems crazy but it makes sense when you understand how government (and any large organisation works):

From the managers point of view, if the technology fails you can blame the vender but if the vender fails you can't blame anyone but yourself for not picking a better vender... unless an analyst firms makes the recommendation and then you can blame the analysts. Like all other forms of business, procurement is about shifting risk. A managers career can be over if they take the blame for bad decision but they just are just doing their job if they make the "right" decision. This is why they pick the "safe" decision not the "best" decision. This is the essence of why no one got fired for picking IBM.

You could ask why not let the integrator take responsibility? Two reasons 1) integrators tend to be small so a manager can be blamed for picking someone "obviously" not up to the task. 2) If there is no obvious integrator to pick (2-3 in their local area) then the manager has to then choose and therefore made a decision which they can get blamed for if it all goes wrong. A lot of times they will also select the "technology" first and integrator 2nd (or better yet have the integrator recommended to them) and they don't even think about the possibility of an integrator being able to take responsibility. If they look in the yellow pages under Plone they don't get Pretaweb, they get nothing. If they look for sharepoint, they get microsoft and microsoft will happily take them out to a game of golf that the manager will conveniently win, do the sale and then recommend an integrator. Everyone happy (except the end users and the shareholders for shelling out $$$). So what managers really want is a organistion to blame that no one can blame them for choosing since its the "obvious" choice or recommended choice.

Its a tough one as I agree what you say about Acquia making Drupal easier to sell.... but on the other hand I don't want to ever end up with a 'Plone Acquia'.

Well Acquia are doing a lot of things now and have seriously split their focus but when it started it had a very simple idea. They were going to be a support company and no integration. That means companies that were risk adverse can take a contact out with them and feel comfortable. They is only one Acquia so it's the "obvious" choice.

On 24/11/2009, at 1:25 AM, Ken Wasetis [Contextual Corp.] wrote:

Thanks for the valuable write-up. Following up on Matt's point, why couldn't the 'Plone Foundation' be the organization/vendor rated by the analysts? Let them analyze the staying power of the Foundation, the project, the CMS - that has to be a strength of Plone that we're not capitalizing on enough.

I'm not sure that would work since they probably have no economic model with analysing something that doesn't make money.

Another alternative is that we could perhaps create a federation of Plone integrators purely for auditing/analysts purposes. If you took all the reasonable sized integration companies and analysed them as a whole you would come out with something that looked like a large multinational company with a pretty big turnover. Or better yet in the proprietary world you have value added reseller networks attached to companies like microsoft or Avaya and I'm sure the analysts have models for valuing those. Plone commercially is essentially a VARs network without the corporation running it in the middle. Unfortunately that would miss the huge amount of value produced by internal integrators such as weblion etc but it would be a start.

Another alternative to to try to educate analysts that software is no longer about products. Software is now a service. What this means is that you ask for a solution and will get consultants and integrators that will produce solutions from the best technology for the job and often from many technologies. The myth of "off the shelf" systems is just that, a myth. SAP isn't off the shelf and neither is any CMS. Then at least managers would look for large integrators that are suable instead of large product companies. Unfortunately that's completely the other direction on how Plone is currently marketed. It's a product and we're producing feature comparisons as to why Plone is a better product than other CMSes. Plus educating the market is a lot harder than changing ourselves.

Sorry there's no easy answers. but I'm going to have a discussion with people I know in the big 5 and find out more about what we can do?

Dylan Jay

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