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I have written about this before in a four part series ending with "Spending money is better than saving it on ECM and CMS." I have also done a pretty objective comparison between TYPO3 and its primary open source competitor, Drupal, in "TYPO3 is the Best Enterprise Content Management System (CMS)."

I have an empirical science background, so I am well aware that we all have biases. However, unless one is intentionally trying to deceive or is just plain not that bright, when writing comparison or advice articles or consulting with clients, one has to be completely honest and as objective as possible.

In the US, I find that discussions about open source software anywhere but within the open source community itself are completely nonobjective, biased, and often out right false.

Recently, two examples smacked me in the face and really made me angry. This kind of thing actually affects my company’s earnings, so they are not trivial matters. These kinds of things must be stopped or at least exposed for what a scientist would call bogus science masquerading as real science.

First, I received my periodic email newsletter from CMSWatch.com. Their slogan is "Get the real story, meaning…

  • Impartial product evaluations for technology buyers, rather than software vendors
  • Hard-hitting, critical analysis, debunking marketing hype in favor of the truth
  • Detailed insights and education based on real end-user experiences

In their latest newsletter, they were promoting their ECM Suites Report 2009, starting at $2,950. I wanted to see what Enterprise Content Management systems were included, so I took a look at the table of contents. Neither TYPO3 nor Drupal are anywhere in the table of contents, not under ECM class, mid-range, or specialty. Only one open source product is, as far as I know, listed and that product is not a free open source product, Alfresco, if you want the Enterprise version.

So, it appears that products that made the cut were mostly proprietary and all had a licensing cost associated with them. The implication, of course is that, if it doesn’t cost you a lot of money, it must not be good. This report is a disservice to anyone who wastes their money on it as it omits options that are better than many, if not all, of the products covered.

I dug a bit more and found their Web CMS Report 2009 list of vendors. Here, I finally found TYPO3 and Drupal. But, the plot thickens. Here are the main categories the WCM solutions were classified under:

  • Enterprise Platforms
  • Upper Tier
  • Mid-Market Mainstream
  • Mid-Market Challengers
  • Hosted Services
  • Commercial Open Source
  • Open Source

Obviously, the above listing goes from perceived best to worst, that is the obvious implication to a reasonable person. TYPO3 and Drupal are in the last category. According to this report, neither of them are Enterprise level, upper tier, or even mid-market level products. Again, the more it costs, the better it is, even commercial open source is ahead of free open source. Again, the report is deceptive and does a great disservice to excellent Enterprise and Upper tier free open source CMS products. Companies pay up to $4,500 for the ECM report and up to $3,975 for the CMS report.

If a company uses these reports to make decisions, they will not even consider the Enterprise level solutions that do not cost thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet do as well as or better job. Reports like this also directly cost companies like mine real dollars with their deceptive reporting. Is it intentional due to pressure or sponsorships from the big boys or it is ignorance in believing the myths prevalent in the US about open source software? I have no idea, it doesn’t matter. What I do know is that it is wrong and that generally Europe gets it and most of the US is clueless.

Next week, I’ll cover the second thing that angered me this week on the topic of open source myths.

Please share your comments, we’re really interested to know what you think and if CMSWatch will respond.

Still stuck? Write us.

  • If a busy enterprise IT person goes shopping for a CMS/WCM/ECM solution, they’re going to go straight to the enterprise or mid-market categories and only see what options are there. As such, viable open source options are left out.

    TYPO3 and Drupal can and readily do compete in the enterprise and mid-markets, but because of their software licensing nature, they’re considered open source. True, they are open source software, but that’s a licensing thing. The licensing shouldn’t be used as a categorization by which to distinguish software out of the real categories that they fit into.

    Heck, if licensing nature is the way to categorize software, then the only two options should then be closed and open source. At least that then compares the software on the same level.

    The categorical classification of the proprietary software and then generally chucking all else under the open source category is a real disservice and disrespect to the communities and software involved.

    What is really trying to be requested here, is to treat CMS/WCM/ECM software options failure. Categorize them against the same methodology.

    I feel that though TYPO3 may not be ECM, but it is definitely amongst the strongest contenders in the CMS and WCM arenas, whether open or proprietary software.

  • Afer reading about the ECM definitions, I concede that TYPO3 doesn’t seem to fit into that category due to it’s web content focus. TYPO3 could become a quality ECM option with further work to its own DAM, digital asset managment, system. However, the TYPO3 DAM is still quite powerful as it stands with its permissions, workspace, workflow and versioning capabilities.

    As mentioned before on categorization, lumping the open source software together while giving the other proprietary options nice, neat labels is a true disservice. The catgorization a disservice, because CMSWatch, as CMS research and reporting leader, feels that open source shouldn’t be distinguished as enterprise or mid-market, then report buyers aren’t going to view the open source options in the same light.

    Sure, the reports are expensive and very informative if you read from cover to cover. However, the reality is that people are busy, they skim the table of contents to see what’s there and then only deeper skim the sections that they feel apply to them.

    By this natural human process, the open source software isn’t allowed to fairly compete where it’s a viable option.

    The corrected link for the CMS vendor map article is http://jonontech.com/2009/03/09/cms-watch-subway-vendor-map-2009/.

  • Okay, so the blue line is one big, super elongated n on top. Open source does seem to lay at one end and proprietary at the other.

    What should we infer from the graph then?


  • Adriaan,

    Thank you for commenting from CMSWatch.

    What do you consider the standard for classify systems as WCM, CMS or ECM? Is there a web link outside of the PDF? It’d be great to share and educate folks.

    In reading through Virgil’s article on the category ordering, it does seem that open source is on the bottom. I think the real concern or ill perception is why does the open source software need to be separated out in the first place?

    Being a developer with 20 plus years of experience, I’ve found it’s better to use the right tool for the job and with TYPO3’s flexibility, there’s quite a few situation where it fits in just fine. However, as an example, if all a client needs is a blog, then I’ll be among the first to recommend WordPress.

    Have a great weekend!