[Evangelism] The State of Drupal

Dylan Jay djay at pretaweb.com
Tue Nov 24 04:36:08 UTC 2009

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  
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  
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  

> 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  

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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