June 22nd, 2009 — 2.0, Content management
I want to revisit a few of the relevant questions that came via the webinar I did last week with Bryan House from Acquia on open source social publishing. We got to some of these on the call, but not all, and some of the more market-level questions seem worthy of sharing.
The webinar focused on both the coming together of social software and WCM, and on open source content management; these questions do too.
Q: Why is open source a disruptive force in the social web CMS space?
I started out my part of the preso talking a little bit about The 451 Group and our focus on disruption and innovation in IT. I mentioned this includes disruptive technologies, business models or larger market changes. Open source certainly fits into the disruptive business model category (though, I know, open source is not a business model). Open source can impact how technology in a particular sector is developed, distributed, procured, priced and supported. This isn’t new in content management; open source projects like Drupal have been around for quite some time.
But as more vendors are making a go of businesses tied to open source code in content management, the dynamic is changing. Open source is becoming more of a viable option in content management for even the largest of organizations and that is something that is only going to get more pronounced. And some of the open source projects (like Drupal and WordPress) seem to do a particularly noteworthy job of tying CMS and social software capabilities (of varying types) together. An interesting fact, I think, as it shows that when a community drives software development in this area, it combines these two areas together, an indication of what the larger market may want.
Q: Tools like Interwoven or Vignette are often described as more “enterprise-ready” than open source alternatives? How big is the delta? How should I evaluate whether particular differences are important?
In general, Interwoven, Vignette et al. have had more of a focus on online marketing capabilities the last couple of years and so have more in the way of content targeting, analytics, multivariate testing and so forth to offer. But I don’t think this is what people usually mean when they say a CMS is “enterprise ready” — I think that’s more to do with things like LDAP/AD support, migration and upgrade tools, platform/commercial database support and so on. The reality is that a lot of commercial open source content management vendors do offer these capabilities but often only in an “enterprise” edition of the code that may only be available under a commercial license. The key is just to ensure that a particular distribution meets your requirements under a license that works for your project.
Q: What questions should I ask a vendor to understand how tightly integrated their social software and web content management capabilities are?
There are several models here. Some vendors have built some social capabilities directly into their WCM products, basically with the idea that most of this as it relates to content sites isn’t too much more than defining a content type (e.g., blog, comment, profile) and its attributes. Some mostly support plugging in third-party blogs, forums etc. Others have separate social software modules. In some cases these have come via acquisitions and others have been built from scratch and so integration levels vary. Some share a content repository and some don’t. So there’s quite a bit of variety and, as usual, it’s mostly just important to make sure however a vendor has done it works for your project. If you just want to add support for comments to an existing content-heavy site, using the integrated features from a WCM vendor probably works fine. If it’s a full-blown, forum-heavy customer support site, more of a stand-alone product (whether from a WCM or social software vendor) might work best.
Q: How will the recent transactions (Vignette & Interwoven) impact this market?
The consolidation at the high end of the market has a number of vendors scrambling to get some advantage. Competitor FatWire Software has a formal “rescue” program and others are certainly having similar discussions with customers. Customers looking to migrate or to evaluate a wider field of WCM options may well look at open source, as the broader availability of products from commercial vendors makes this a more viable option.
June 11th, 2009 — 2.0, Content management
In the midst of a busy month, working through some really intriguing stuff as part of our upcoming Special Report on Information Governance, but I’ll also be part of some interesting upcoming events.
On June 17th, I’ll be in NYC taking part in an event being put on by open source CMS provider Squiz, as part of its US launch. I’ll be presenting on trends in the WCM market with a specific focus on the growth of commercial open source content management. This ties in somewhat with a report I did earlier in the year (for 451 Group clients), “Open source content management: It’s coming to America.” This looked mostly at the trend of European open source CMS providers moving to the US market. Squiz started out in lovely Sydney, Australia but is part of the same trend nonetheless.
Also in the open source realm, on June 18th, I’ll be taking part in a webinar hosted by Acquia, the commercial entity looking to put a commercial support and services for Drupal on the map. Here we’ll be discussing open source surely but also the increasing overlap between WCM and social software. This will reprise to some degree the talk I gave on this topic at the AIIM event in Philly earlier this year.
Then of course there is the Enterprise 2.0 show here in Boston, June 23-25. I have limited time at the conference this year unfortunately (my information governance work beckons), but if you’ll be there drop me a line.
December 4th, 2008 — 2.0, Content management
There were several interesting things happening at The Gilbane Conference this year and for me, these mostly came up during the analyst panel I sat on yesterday afternoon with Melissa Webster from IDC, Stephen Powers from Forrester and Guy Creese from Burton Group.
Frank Gilbane moderated and asked us first to identify a couple of key trends we see for the year ahead and then what we had heard at the conference that we disagreed with. Here are my responses:
Open source and SaaS have a bigger impact
I was the last panelist to answer the trends question and of course generally agreed with comments made by the other analysts about IT spending cuts and the impact of SharePoint on most segments of this market. For my bit, I called attention to SaaS and open source and the increasing presence they have in various parts of content management.
Open source was particularly prevalent this year at Gilbane. I met with folks from Acquia, Hippo, Magnolia, and eZ Systems, and noted that Alfresco, Mindtouch and Jahia were also there (there may have been others as well). Hippo, Magnolia and eZ are notable as European open source providers that are starting or expanding US offices. Based on the reported success of these and other vendors, it seems open source is an increasingly viable option in content management and one that may see increased adoption when IT budgets are tight. This is something I hope to explore more with my CAOS colleagues next year.
SaaS also had a showing though a smaller one in terms of core content management. Clickability and Crownpeak were there, the usual WCM SaaS suspects, and both report record growth so far in 2008. But SaaS also shows up in many areas related to content management; web analytics has been a SaaS market for years and SaaS is the dominant model in areas like personalization and A/B or multivariate testing. Social software is also largely SaaS, particularly in customer-facing environments. I noted the panelists at the social media panel yesterday represented two SaaS (Awareness and WetPaint) and two open source vendors (Acquia and MindTouch).
Which brings me to my other point…
Social media is too broadly defined
I didn’t disagree with anything specifically that was said during the social media panel that occurred just before our analyst panel but noted (as did others) that lumping all kinds of social technologies under a “social media” banner causes too much confusion for everyone involved. This panel really highlighted this as the conversation veered widely between internal collaboration goals, issues and technologies, and using social technologies to market to and serve customers online. The panelists got confused at times about which thing was being discussed and it was clear from the questions being asked that there were some in the audience were confused as well.
I harped on about this in the presentation I gave at our client event last month. The uses for social software internally are generally pretty different from what companies are trying to accomplish in customer-facing initiatives. As a result, the requirements of the tools are different as well. I think it is difficult for vendors to serve both markets (internal and external) well and I expect we’ll see more specialization along these lines in the year ahead.
Someone in the audience during the social media panel asked “don’t we have to be social internally before we can use these technologies with our customers?” That’s a good question and I think the panel generally gave her an affirmative answer. Not sure that I agree. I think it certainly helps if an organization culturally gets social technologies and uses them for internal communication before embarking on some sort of external initiative. But it’s still primarily about finding the right tool for XYZ job. Ensuring that everyone internally is using Twitter doesn’t seem a pre-requisite before you get started on some other project, unless of course it really is a pre-requisite for that particular project.
One of my general points, and I saw a lot of nodding heads in the audience when I said this during the analyst panel, is that I generally remain unimpressed with the “newness” of all this, particularly for internal use. I noted on the analyst panel yesterday that when I was a product manager at Sun in 2002, we used the team collaboration product from Intraspect (ultimately bought by Vignette) for a lot of stuff. It had shared workspaces, discussion forums, comments etc. Is that really all that different from what we’re talking about with social software internally? There are differences, I’m not saying there aren’t. But it is an evolution, not a revolution. That is less true, I think, when using social technologies to interact with customers where there are really fundamentally new models. Which again gets to my point that these are different markets with different antecedents, different integration requirements, different cultural changes required…
In any event, lots of talk about social technologies at what has always been a content management conference. There’s no apparent slow down in the collision of these two sectors. I noted on the panel that this makes sense in the enterprise environment where social networking without a tie to content creation, sharing and access is, as Aaron Fulkerson put it during the social media panel “kind of boring.”
June 12th, 2008 — 2.0, Content management
I attended a star-studded open source panel this morning, with Bob Bickel of Ringside Networks, Jeff Whatcott of Acquia and John Newton of Alfresco. The panel and audience members discussed adoption of open source specifically for social applications.
There was a bit of discussion on market readiness for open source in this sector. A comment came from the audience that Alfresco, the most established of the three vendors, started with an “easy target” – that is, replacing document management systems that were largely understood and seen as commodities. The same audience member noted that applying commercial open source to emerging social applications may be more difficult, as these are viewed as more strategically important for IT and management.
Ringside is really only just now getting started so it isn’t too far down the road in selling to enterprises, but Bickel came from JBoss and so recounted some of his experiences there with overcoming adoption hurdles at the application platform layer. Acquia is also a new company but it is attached to the popular Drupal project. Acquia hopes to help legitimize Drupal for the enterprise.
Other questions from the audience focused mostly on the complexity of deploying some open source tools (lack of documentation etc.) and licensing issues.
The issue of how little open source was represented at this conference, something I had also noticed, also came up. John Newton said he went from booth to booth on the show floor asking “are you open source?” He got few “yes” answers. Alfresco / Acquia were on the show floor along with a big Sun / MySQL booth but of the 52 vendors on in the demo pavilion, that was about it for vendors with primarily open source business models (a few like Socialtext and Jive Software dabble some in open source but it’s not their primary model).
It’s interesting that at a conference that was all about communities and user-generated content, the vendors represented didn’t have more of a focus on community-generated software. The emphasis in conference sessions and certainly among the vendors on the show floor was much more around software that is easy-to-procure and easy-to-deploy for business users…in other words, lots of SaaS.
Why? I met with John Newton after the panel and he said he thought it was just the vendors present, not a real reflection of the amount of social software currently deployed as open source. I think that’s true as most organizations definitely have WordPress, MediaWiki and Roller deployments but none of these tools were represented at the conference. (Aaron Fulkerson from MindTouch was there (commercial open source wiki vendor) but MindTouch didn’t have a booth.)
Jeff Whatcott also noted off-panel that he thinks the SaaS and open source models will advance in parallel in this market but there will eventually be a “come to Jesus” moment when organizations realize the benefits of community development and the need to have the flexibility to develop, integrate and customize this stuff. I agree that these two models will continue in parallel for awhile or perhaps more than awhile as there are likely to roles for both SaaS and open source in the social software (or collaboration) market for the foreseeable future.
Update: I neglected to mention in this post originally that John Eckman from Optaros did a wonderful job moderating this panel. My oversight for not mentioning that.
March 19th, 2008 — Content management
I came across this announcement today that Dutch open source content management play Hippo has “taken over all activities of the San Francisco based portal-specialist BlueSunrise.”
Seth provides some details:
Hippo is one of several European open source efforts in the content management realm expanding operations, an indication of the activity in this area at the moment. eZ Systems has announced a new managing director for North America, who will be tasked with opening an eZ office in Chicago. French company Nuxeo opened a UK office last year and the Drupal start-up Acquia, led by Dries Buytaert from Belgium, is based here in Boston. Knowledgetree (headquartered in Cape Town but with offices in London) is also starting up on the West Coast.
Hippo BV bought David Sean Taylor’s (of Apache Jetspeed fame) company Blue Sunrise. David is now the VP of Engineering and gives Hippo a presence on the West Coast (Bay Area). I don’t know of any North American customers running on Hippo CMS yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Blue Sunrise customers running on Jetspeed start to move toward Hippo Portal, which is based on Jetspeed.
March 6th, 2008 — 2.0, Collaboration
No surprise really that social software, social publishing and other types of socializing were hot topics this week at the AIIM show here in Boston. I started out the week at Drupalcon (co-located at AIIM this year), the community event for the open source Web publishing tool Drupal. This was my first time at Drupalcon, or really at any open source user event of this size. A couple things struck me. First and most superficially, I stuck out a bit both due to my rather corporate-looking business attire (sorry guys) and because of my gender — a comment was made at the start of the event that the attendees were 93% male.
But much more interesting was the level of engagement. Cheers and audience participation during the keynote by project lead Dries Buytaert were plentiful. The event was packed (there were 800 attendees and they had expected 500) and there appeared to be a high level of engagement among folks in the sessions and the hallways. (And I wasn’t the only one sticking out for looking a little corporate – I think the guys from Acquia, the new Drupal start-up were in the same boat. 451 Group clients can read our write-up on Acquia here (log-in required)).
AIIM didn’t have the same level of excitement but there was still a common thread between the two events. Part of Drupal’s popularity is due to its community features and the availability of modules to add capabilities like feed management, voting and so forth. Other vendors that fall into a broadly defined content management market are busy adding similar capabilities either to WCM tools that will ultimately deliver community features to site visitors or to content contributor UIs within apps themselves. I met with folks from Day Software, Alfresco, IBM, Salesforce.com and Oracle and support for communities, collaboration and user-generated content are hot topics. Interestingly, it was not a focus during a meeting with Google — no social features appear particularly imminent for Google’s Search Appliances.
I also attended an interesting session held by Tony Byrne of CMS Watch. Tony looked at CMS architectures and how those companies wishing to implement external communities or to support user-generated content on external sites may end up with best-of-breed tools for architectural reasons, even though WCM vendors are adding support for these features themselves. Interesting stuff.
There was no sense of irrational exuberance at AIIM though, not like last year’s Enterprise 2.0 conference that had a jammed showcase floor and overflowing sessions. AIIM is a massive show though and as it is co-located with the On Demand show, it’s an odd mix of photocopiers, printing machines and enterprise software. Several ECM vendors I met with including SpringCM, Xythos (which I found out was acquired by Blackboard last year in a deal that has been kept totally quiet), Hyland Software and Tower Software are much more focused on more traditional ECM problems, from process management to archiving, which are alive and well.