+1 on your final idea, but perhaps instead set this up on World Plone Day and in various countries/locations/online. Recorded sessions that could be watched later on UStream, YouTube, etc. would be invaluable, I think.

Thanks for the insight on the ZEA arrangement - I was thinking something like this could be a possibility, but it sounds as if there are some details that would need to be worked out to make it run smoothly. I think that the corporate CMS vendors I've dealt with in the past have usually broken leads out into geographic regions, and just like a franchise, they attempt to not have too much overlap/competition in the same geo area. For instance, I know the 1-2 companies who would be the integrators for a RedDot/OpenText or Day Software project in the Chicago area. That's been the case for 5 years with those companies (no new VAR/partners in the region.)

If we did a ZEA+ type organization, we could similarly 'franchise' it, segment market by region (and alternate or have a bidding process when there are multiple vendors in a region), and each participating organization would pay some fee to have some skin in the game and become a partner of the network. The funds of which could be used for marketing of the org, but also for Plone in general (i.e., I'm not looking for a Plone integrator until I know more about Plone.)

We would need some legal help and possibly some consulting from a national sales/partnerships person from the commercial side. I know a global partnerships guy at BEA, now Oracle, if there ends up being any interest later, we might get some advice from him.


Matt Hamilton wrote:

On 24 Nov 2009, at 04:36, Dylan Jay wrote:

... 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.

All makes sense. I guess this is what I've been thinking about recently. The fact that the customer/integrator/vendor model that most commercial CMSs use just doesn't quite fit with the way the Plone community works. Or rather the Plone community doesn't quite fit with it, and hence the whole buying process around buying a CMS is different and often doesn't fit the existing model that customers might be used to.

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.

With Plone the is no obvious choice. In fact its more than that, there almost was an obvious choice by default: Plone Solutions, but they saw this as being a potential problem for the community as a whole and to avoid confusion rebranded to Jarn. So as a community I think we are quite against the general notion of an 'obvious choice'. Or rather against the notion of *one* obvious choice for *everything*. I know that there are specific companies in the Plone community that I would say are the obvious choice (in my mind) for specific sectors or types of work. But they have got there by proving themselves in that kind of work, and not because they are the project's founder.

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.

We need to be careful here as we have already tried this to some degree: ZEA Partners. It is a 'federation of Plone integrators'. The big issue though that was found with ZEA was things like 'How do you divide up the incoming work?'. Ie. if Gartner or someone had ZEA (or analogous organisation) on its list then when a customer contacts them, who do they then hand the work out to? I know some members of ZEA already feel that this was a problem and have voiced their opinions that the only people who got work in ZEA were those 'in the know'.

Then again, how fo VAR networks do it in the commercial world? Does each VAR who wants the work pitch independantly to the client?

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.

I think that this is the best, albeit harder approach, but I think the WCM market is heading that way anyways. From following the tweets coming out of the JBoye09 conference it seems like many analysts do understand this, and with the likes of SaaS and hosted solutions I think they are moving that direction anyways.

I think the panel discussion at Gilbane should do quite a bit to highlight this hopefully to those that attend.

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?

Well actually that is another approach... partnering with one of the big 5 or similar. Many years ago I had a meeting at Delliote with someone about Netsight being the implementer of something they were working on. Alas it didn't come to fruition and interestingly that person left and is now head of a company specificlly dealing in Alfresco and RabbitMQ work.

Another idea that I had this morning, which I think could be really good: an 'Analyst Day' at the Plone Conference. Say we took one day, maybe a day immediately preceding the conference (when training is happening in parallel) and invite all the analysts we can find, and customers etc (basically anyone in a suit ;) ) along to come and find out about Plone. The day would just have a single track and would be a mix of 'big picture' roadmap type stuff specifically tailored to them (ie benefits, not tech details) and some case studies. There were some fantastic case studies in Budapest, and if we could ask the presenters to come along a day early and present their case studies then (with a slight focus towards analysts) then of course present them again later in the conference proper for the community (with all the technical guts etc).

What do you think?


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