Am I Buying a WCM Solution or Stock?

The Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management came out for the first time this month.  I say the first time because it was always a Market Scope before the 2009 report.  If you look at it, you can learn many things.  The one thing you won’t learn is if any of the products are right for you, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Jon Marks did a good job of comparing Gartner’s and Forrester’s latest rankings and highlights how a “Niche Player” may be worth considering. CMS Watch has stronger words on the topic, talking about some of the differences between their methodology and Gartner’s.

I have a few of my own thoughts to add into the fray…

Five Years? Really?

image Did you know that to be included, you have to be in business for five years and span two continents? I’m thinking that means no Drupal (via Acquia) for the next 3-4 years, depending on when they start the clock. Drupal is widely considered to be one of the leading open source WCM products (simply called CMS by the OSS WCM community) out there.

Janus Boye has Drupal on his 10 product shortlist. When talking to Tony Byrne about what open source WCM systems I should look at for a project, Drupal was one of few he listed off the top of his head. I didn’t pay for any of that information, but neither did Drupal.

Did anyone notice that Alfresco didn’t make the cut? They were in the 2008 Magic Quadrant for ECM, but they don’t qualify here? I remember being pretty excited last year when they made it. We thought there was hope for fair and balanced evaluations on day. That hope may have been smashed.

Alfresco has the needed revenue to qualify, but they missed out. Why? They were founded in 2005, four years ago!  If a company is big enough, and stable enough, to be an qualified ECM vendor, don’t you think they can make the WCM cut?  Gartner says in the MQ that Alfresco will likely to be one of the first such providers to meet all inclusion criteria in the medium term.

I’d love to know the source of this “5 year” limit. I wonder if it will creep into the ECM MQ later this year and remove Alfresco.

Ability to Execute

One whole axis is devoted to the ability to execute.  This is where open source vendors get destroyed and commercial vendors get unfairly rewarded.  Some of the factors that go into this axis are:

  • Overall Viability: The bigger the company, the better they will score. This is all about the financial health and ongoing financial investment into the product.  Large companies with wide product lines benefit, like Microsoft, Oracle, EMC, and IBM.
  • Sales Execution/Pricing: Aside from the obvious, the level of interest from Gartner clients is included in this metric. So if a client likes your vendor list, you reward the vendors? Maybe they should take a client not liking the list as a chance to educate.
  • Customer Experience: This comes from references provided by the vendor and Gartner clients. If I help a customer deploy Drupal, and they love it, there is no reference unless it is Acquia’s Drupal build.
  • Operations: The larger more experienced companies will do well here, just like the Overall Viability option.

Open Source products don’t score as they should because the community is not taken into account. Alfresco and Acquia employees don’t do all of the product development for Alfresco and Drupal.  They don’t provide all of the support.  If you use the community versions of those products, you still have a vast network of support through the community.  The sum of the whole needs to be taken into account.

Let’s not forget about partners. Solid partners can easily make-up the gaps that Gartner finds in open source software.  A solid partner community gives the financial stability and operational support that is looked for by Gartner.

The Magic Quadrant is about the company and the product.  It needs to be about the company/community and the product.  The evaluation factors that discriminate against open source are factors that I would care about if I was trying to determine which WCM vendors with which to invest money.  They aren’t factors that I need to know if I am trying to determine if I can implement a particular WCM system.

Personally, I think EMC (Documentum) and IBM (FileNet) are Niche Players in the WCM world at best.  Why?  Their WCM products sell into a very specific niche, those companies that already have, or are making, investments in their EMC or IBM platforms. If you know of either product winning a pure WCM bid, let me know. I’ll have more on this train of thought in another post.

2 thoughts on “Am I Buying a WCM Solution or Stock?

  1. Dear Pie,

    I couldn’t agree more, and had exactly the same thoughts as you when reading through the ‘new’ WCM quadrant.

    Filtering vendors by a ‘5 years in operation’, and a ‘turnover in excess of ‘criteria is simply not reflective of how companies are assessing and procuring WCM solutions.

    An Alfresco back end de-coupled content repositary, with a Drupal front end WCM implementation (talking together through CMIS dare I say?) is not going to set the world alight in terms of huge increases of turnover for any company. However, it will deliver a sizzling good CMS solution for managing the complete content lifecycle, including web content – all whilst efficiently utilising a small amount of budget. Surely that is a factor that would warrant further investigation of any CIO/CMO in this current climate, and be an important consideration …. ?

    Anyway, I’ll tip toe of your soap box now :0) and have to confess to having a hugely biased viewpoint – we are an Alfresco system integration partner ( ), so I probably would say that eh???

    Thanks for the blog, it was a good read …


    Steve Odart


  2. Full Disclamer: I’m the founder of Umbraco, an open source Web CMS on the Microsoft.NET stack. Now that’s sorted 😉

    Being great at ECMS definitely doesn’t make you good at Web CMS. To be honest – being absolutely subjective naturally – I have yet to see a true ECMS being great at Web.

    I also believe that this could be the reasoning that Alfresco wasn’t included as great an ECMS as they might be.


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