[Evangelism] The State of Drupal

Matt Hamilton matth at netsight.co.uk
Tue Nov 24 10:46:00 UTC 2009

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  

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?


Matt Hamilton                                       matth at netsight.co.uk
Netsight Internet Solutions, Ltd.           Understand. Develop. Deliver
http://www.netsight.co.uk                             +44 (0)117 9090901
Web Design | Zope/Plone Development & Consulting | Co-location | Hosting

More information about the Evangelism mailing list