[Evangelism] Article: Is Plone a Good CMS

Ken Wasetis [Contextual Corp.] ken.wasetis at contextualcorp.com
Mon Aug 10 16:24:19 UTC 2009


Thanks - I know that this site has been around for years and hadn't 
checked it out in a little bit.  I see that they now have some coverage 
of commercial tools.

I still have many issues with this site and the way that it compares 
apples and oranges.  For instance, it just lumps portal/delivery engines 
with CMS tools.  The characteristics being measured appear more geared 
toward a web development framework than a CMS.  There's no measurement 
for workflow or level of complexity of workflow supported, no mention of 
'structured content types/model', or fine-grained permission management 
(only authentication mechanisms supported, such as Kerberos vs. NTLM, etc.)

We have had numerous clients mention that this is where they started 
before contacting us, though, so we need to be sure to keep this site 
updated with each Plone release as much as possible.  I know that I've 
emailed the site administrator in the past when I thought some things 
were out-of-date on the Plone details.

I don't like that there is no key or glossary to help determine what is 
actually being measured by a certain measurement.  Some are quite 
ambiguous, for example the 'Matrix' yes/no characteristic - what the 
heck is that?

One characteristic that I would take issue with on the Plone measurement 
side is that of 'front-end web services'.  Zope (and therefore Plone) 
has support for XML-RPC out of the box and has had this earlier than any 
other known application server.  Perhaps what they really mean to 
measure is support for the SOAP specification in particular. 

Anyhow, you can see how such a matrix can either be misleading, not give 
full context or details of what's being measured, and can give false 
impressions.  But it is 'something' and it is a site that clients and 
prospective clients sometimes use, like it or not.

Perhaps we can push for a more CMS-focused section within the comparison 
list.  Something that reviews more CMS-related features such as which 
WYSIWYGs are supported, complexity of workflow supported (event or 
activity-basd, serial only, voting pass/fail with quorum/threshold for 
pass, number of roles/transitions/states supported), permission 
management/sharing of site/folders/pages/fields, integration of taxonomy 
management, etc.

I'd also recommend we push for measuring the number of security-related 
patches released per year (as documented by objective sites, not vendors.)

These are things that will help Plone shine in comparison to other 
tools, but also happen to be things that are generally accepted to be 
evaluation characteristics of CMS tools, not just portals or web 
publishing tools (such as Wordpress or phpNuke, etc.)

Thanks for reminding us of the matrix site.  It's important that we get 
good representation there.


Takeshi Yamamoto wrote:
> This page could be helpful to make a comparison sheet.
> http://www.cmsmatrix.org/
> Click the check boxes of Plone and few more CMS, then press Compare 
> button.
> Takeshi
> On Aug 10, 2009, at 2:30 PM, Dylan Jay wrote:
>> that's a tremendous amount of useful information. some very 
>> actionable items.
>> Last conference there was a marketing sprint. Are you going to be there?
>> I'd like to be involved in a marketing sprint where work on 
>> completing some of the tasks you outline such as creating comparisons 
>> sheets and gathering testimonials and putting them on plone.org. It 
>> would be nice to a concrete set of tasks to achieve before we hit the 
>> sprint (how? anyone? come up with a list of tasks in this forum?) 
>> instead of the sprint being about deciding on the list of tasks.
>> I also think it would be really good to encourage the business 
>> development people from integrators into that sprint since a good 
>> deal of their work is selling people on Plone, day in day out. 
>> Marketing knowledge such as yours Ken, would also be fantastic.
>> ---
>> Dylan Jay, Plone Solutions Manager
>> www.pretaweb.com
>> tel:+61299552830
>> mob:+61421477460
>> skype:dylan_jay
>> On 04/08/2009, at 2:46 AM, ctxlken wrote:
>>> Matt,
>>> 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 functional
>>> requirements from clients large and small could be met by Plone, but in
>>> 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 
>>> by IT.
>>> The typical 'short lists' looked like this:
>>> Enterprise CMS list:
>>> Fatwire
>>> Percussion Rhythmyx
>>> Vignette (becoming OpenText)
>>> Interwoven
>>> 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 
>>> now.)
>>> 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.
>>> Amazing.)
>>> Ektron  (low-end cost .Net option, but also more limited functionality)
>>> 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)
>>> Plone
>>> Typo3
>>> ezPublish
>>> Drupal
>>> Joomla  (for only very simple CMS requirements; basically to 'add 
>>> pages')
>>> 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 
>>> saw it
>>> 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 
>>> were
>>> 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' 
>>> for
>>> 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 level
>>> 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 the
>>> 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 likely
>>> have the corresponding budget size in mind as well.
>>> See the Gartner Report
>>> here:http://mediaproducts.gartner.com/reprints/microsoft/vol6/article3/article3.html 
>>> See an older Forrester Report here and notice coverage of Alfresco 
>>> (open
>>> source):
>>> http://www.oracle.com/corporate/analyst/reports/infrastructure/ocs/forrester-ecm-q42007.pdf 
>>> 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 
>>> (marketing,
>>> et al) to push hard for it.
>>> Since this is the Plone Evangelism list, I think some things to take
>>> aware are:
>>> 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 
>>> tools to
>>> cover?  Is Alfresco covered because it has a corporate face/backing 
>>> to it?
>>> 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', are
>>> 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 primary
>>> open source CMS tools that make it to organizations' short lists are
>>> viable, but that the more complex functionality a client needs, the 
>>> more
>>> 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 
>>> source
>>> tools, so maybe the foundation should purchase a report (and others) 
>>> and
>>> then publish its own 'summary report' or something that doesn't 
>>> conflict
>>> with any report's license.
>>> I have just this week been asked to come up with my own Ektron vs. 
>>> Plone
>>> comparison report for an IT integrator that knows Plone is a better fit
>>> 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 report
>>> 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 open
>>> 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 provide
>>> '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 includes
>>> 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 
>>> and
>>> oranges.)
>>> 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 Source
>>> 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 
>>> overall
>>> project costs comparison chart as well as an hourly consulting
>>> comparison chart, because generally the commercial vendors are going to
>>> charge $150-250/hr for services, while Plone services are typically
>>> under even their low number and decision-makers need to see and 
>>> consider
>>> this.
>>> 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 to
>>> 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 
>>> and
>>> let the following years' costs be ignored during the selection process.
>>> 5) Plone.net:
>>> 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 
>>> with
>>> clients (especially focusing on the CMS evaluation/selection process)
>>> rather than just project recaps that focus purely on what was done with
>>> 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 management
>>> systems', 'open source cms', 'plone', and similar terms.  The ads could
>>> 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.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Ken Wasetis
>>> President and CMS Solution Architect
>>> email: ken.wasetis at contextualcorp.com
>>> office: 847.356.3027
>>> website: www.contextualcorp.com
>>> 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 CMS?'
>>>>>> http://www.jboye.com/blogpost/is-plone-a-good-cms/
>>>>>> 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 
>>>> him:
>>>> "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 consulting
>>>> companies?"
>>>> As I was genuinely interested to see if Plone consulting companies are
>>>> *really* smaller than others, or if it is just a perception thing. His
>>>> response as this:
>>>> "I would say Umbraco has been the most successful in attracting larger
>>>> consulting companies. I am speculating this may be due to large
>>>> consultancies with .NET skills using Umbraco as a low-end 
>>>> alternative to
>>>> 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 Sitecore,
>>>> but when that company needs to do something low end they are using
>>>> Umbraco.
>>>> So is this a good thing? What does it mean to the Plone community? Are
>>>> 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
>>>> both messages.
>>>> What are your thoughts? I want to gather them up to send to Janus.
>>>> -Matt
>>>> -- 
>>>> Matt Hamilton                                       [hidden email]
>>>> <http://n2.nabble.com/user/SendEmail.jtp?type=node&node=3376803&i=0>
>>>> Netsight Internet Solutions, Ltd.           Understand. Develop. 
>>>> Deliver
>>>> http://www.netsight.co.uk                             +44 (0)117 
>>>> 9090901
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