[Evangelism] Article: Is Plone a Good CMS

Karl Horak KEHORAK at sandia.gov
Thu Aug 13 03:11:24 UTC 2009

I've been running this msg thread through my mind for several days now and in
light of the idea that we should include testimonials on Plone.net for how
the CMS decision was made, here's a go at what we did in Cooperative
International Programs at Sandia National Laboratories.  

Back in the late 90s we "discovered" Python as a great language for
scripting, especially data mining.  We had a terrific young Python
programmer on staff and when customer requirements started to move towards
complex CMS domains (ca 2003), we found that Zope was a logical, secure,
safe, and effective solution.  Within a year, we had found that Plone did
all the heavy lifting for us.  

Since then we've built about 60 sites, large and small, mostly small.  Plone
lets us serve 500 MB document collections as well as micro-sites for one-off
websites to support a single staff member's workshop.  

Sandia relies heavily on SharePoint for internal information silos and now
has an external SP server.  However, Plone is easier to customize for
project brand identification, goes beyond mere document management, is far
more usable, has almost unlimited flexibility, and can be ported to our
international partners without a huge MS price tag.  

International Programs still remains a very small corner of Sandia's IT
environment, but as we continue to succeed with pragmatic solutions and
solid deployments, we've gotten the attention of other IT and Web groups. 
As you can see, our Plone decision was actually an organic growth from
Python to Zope to Plone.  Only this month are we migrating up to 3.x.  

Nearby City of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Public Schools went to Plone
based on their own independent decision-making processes.  A few other local
entities embraced Plone as well.  The end result is a surprising enclave of
Plone out here in NM.  

Because we grew into Plone, the learning curve wasn't as steep as the urban
myth would have it.  Excellent training has been available at every step
along the way (kudos to Joel Burton and Enfold Systems).  Much to my
surprise, we haven't had to avail ourselves of the many readily available
consultancies out there.  

In the end, I guess we're a small organization embedded within a large
organization and I'm of no help in that debate.  We get basic CMS site
requests on a routine basis, but then there are some off-the-wall
requirements that come in.  They haven't stumped Plone yet.  Low cost,
flexibility, security, customizable workflow, UML-to-product development
path, and the backing of a solid community have made Plone the right
decision for us.  

All that said, this doesn't help much in targeting the Plone marketing
strategy.  I concur that emphasizing the positive (what Plone does well) is
important and that crafting stories for successful deployments across all
scales will make a difference.  

Just sign me,

No regrets

Dylan Jay wrote:
> Still haven't worked out how best to reply. You're talking about both  
> marketing positioning and company size. I'm not sure if they are  
> related.
> With regard to positioning, we tend to put plone at the bigger end.  
> It's like sitecore etc but more flexible due to being open source  
> (more integration hooks) and lower total cost of ownership). However  
> unlike you Umbraco it's not .net or java so it's going to be headache  
> if they want to support it internally so it almost has to be better  
> than the alternatives for many in enterprise to accept it. So perhaps  
> we should be looking at what Plone really can do better [1]
> As for consulting company size. My guess is that because Plone  
> requires a big learning curve so it's an investment for any consulting  
> firm take on for occasional use, even if they were a python shop. That  
> means most Plone shops specialise in it. But my guess is as good as  
> anyones.
> [1] for me plone's strength lies in it's filesystem like model that  
> allows people to build up very different solutions using building  
> blocks with quite sophisticated delegation of tasks. I wish there was  
> a nice buzz word for that.
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