[Evangelism] The State of Drupal

Dylan Jay djay at pretaweb.com
Tue Nov 24 15:26:57 UTC 2009

On 24/11/2009, at 9:46 PM, 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

Well Acquia and Plone Solutions aren't the same thing. Plone solutions  
was a integrator that competed with other integrators. Acquia is a  
support company. It's much more like redhat.

> *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.

When I said "obvious choice" I was really meaning someone to demo  
plone and someone to sue, not so much someone to do the integration  
work. I think managers are used to evaluating many companies are their  
service ability, but I don't think they are used to dealing with  
multiple companies to evaluate a single product and for support. See  
their confusion?

I get the feeling Acquia helps other integrators get more work rather  
than compete for teh same work.

>> 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

ah. I didn't mean with regard to bidding for work. I meant we all  
supply out financial details to an auditor so that we can get an  
aggregated figure of how much revenue plone makes globally. Question  
is, if we release a press release saying the plone integrator network  
makes 50M a year or whatever the figure is, then will anyone pay  

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

They compete against each other and bid for work independently like we  
all do. I think in some instances the product company might recommend  
an integrator but I'm not sure how they choose which one.

>> 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

SaaS really isn't such a good analogy. SaaS is much more like a  
product than the plone ecosystem is. SaaS normally is a single company  
which can be valued by auditors, selected by managers exactly in the  
same way sharepoint or any vendor back product.
A better analogy is graphic design, PR, plumbing, IT management...  
Anything that involves people not a product.

> 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.

I agree. Anyone with connections to consulting companies, try and find  
out how Plone could be made recommendable.

> 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?

I think it's a great idea. Would they come?
There is only one way to find out which is to ask them. Alternatively  
perhaps we could do the same thing at a more general CMS conference  
that lots of analysts are already at?

> -Matt
> -- 
> Matt Hamilton                                       matth at netsight.co.uk
> Netsight Internet Solutions, Ltd.           Understand. Develop.  
> Deliver
> http://www.netsight.co.uk                             +44 (0)117  
> 9090901
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