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cms product vendors and vendor lists

Enterprise CMS Majors
Most of the better known giants of the CMS industry started their life well before the first internet boom. Vendors such as EMC Documentum and Vignette produced document management and other content aggregation and manipulation tools. These applications often still manage non-web content and have been redeveloped or enhanced to manage content through to the web as well. The resulting hybrid applications (document management and web management) suit organisations who move documents (files) within their organisation for collaborative authoring and carefully managed version and publishing control. These same measures are then expanded to include content published to the internet. The development path of these application tends to make them complicated and completely proprietary. Installation usually requires an extended timeline, change management, detailed training, large financial expense and a very committed organisation to ensure success. These products are suitable for Type 1 and some larger Type 2 and Type 3 organisations for our Market Segments List.

Major Software Houses
In more recent times, household names such as Microsoft, IBM and Macromedia have moved into the CMS Marketplace, each with their own agenda and story. Microsoft has been largely a ‘me too’ vendor, deciding that in order to provide a complete array of enterprise applications, it needed a CMS product to accompany the rest of its arsenal. As with all Microsoft products, Microsoft Content Server is fiercely proprietary and doesn’t always play nicely with others. Microsoft also plays in the bottom end of the market with FrontPage although not exactly a Content Management product, FrontPage does allow organisations some ability to build and maintain their own infrastructure. IBM has long touted its Domino product (and prior to that its predecessor Notes) as Groupware come CMS, in fact Lotus Notes was able to convince some large companies and Government Agencies that Notes was a good environment to build and maintain websites, many learn't the hard way that this was not always a good strategy. In more recent times, IBM has acquired other CMS vendors and seems to be waiting to see which of its options pans out the best. Macromedia takes a much more ‘design’ focussed approach to web development, with Flash and DreamWeaver offering professional development options to web aesthetes. To move into the CMS space, Macromedia has launched Contribute to enable less skilled users to edit websites created using Macromedia tools. The feature set of this product is growing with each release and is worth examination, however it still depends upon specific skill or training and a proprietary product to manage the editing process. These products are worthy of consideration if you heavy users of these vendor's platforms or development environments.

Database Vendors
At the core of a Content Management System is the concept of a dynamic website, where the content is stored and separated from other components such as style, format, access rights and supporting data. This is achieved through the use of a database, and any CMS worthy of the acronym has a solid database under the hood. It is not surprising therefore that database vendors such as Oracle have developed their own CMS offerings or actively partnered with other CMS application vendors. Generally, these solutions have not made the grade when compared with the Enterprise CMS majors and are not normally cheap enough or flexible enough to compete in the other categories. The products of Database Vendors have another profound problem, their customer model is direct access to highly trained IT professionals, the whole point of CMS solutions is to communicate directly with content producers within an organisation. Database Vendors have a significant and understated consumer group misalignment that has restricted their success in this class of product.

Website Development Organisations
Almost every highly successful website builder, design, IT development house and multimedia developer uses some form of web development environment that approximates the function of a Web Content Management System. Many of these organisations have gone on to produce their own CMS product, Komodo CMS is one of these solutions that started life as a collection of code objects that were reused from one website development to the next. Some of the best featured, most useable and best value for money solutions have come from this segment of market vendors. For the astute organisation, these solutions offer better return on investment and more partnership benefits that any other segment. So what’s the catch? Komodo CMS spent three years and significant financial investment to ensure Version 1 was product worthy of public commercial release, with a feature set and value proposition that was second to none for the right market segments. Unfortunately not all CMS solutions can say the same, and this vendor group also accounts for some of the worst products on the market. Some are not really products at all but rather branded starting points for custom development or brand names built on the back of someone else’s product or open source solution. Exploring this vendor group will expose some outstanding products, simply make sure you ask questions about price, timelines, where the source product was built, features and obtain a demonstration that relates to your business needs. As with all products, ensure you understand all of the costs involved (product, deployment, technical support, training, enhancements, hosting and your internal commitments). See our section on Making a Decision.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
Domain name registration and website hosting are commodity businesses under intense price competition and low switching costs. Businesses in this field are interested in ways of adding value to their customers, particularly value that helps to prevent switching between vendors. For Internet Service Providers, delivering Content Management and site building products is an obvious business strategy for seamless delivery of Domain Registration / Site Hosting / Site Development. Generally these solutions are aimed at the bottom end of the market and are poorly conceived given that they are not the ‘main game’ of these operations. Some products are available and improving and ISP vendors are certainly here to stay. At this stage, these are really only of interest to Type 7 or cash poor Type 6 organisations from our Market Segments List.

Open Source Community
The most interesting and certainly the most ‘hyped’ segment of vendors are the Open Source Community. Open Source software is free and the notion is credible, growing and worthy of support. Komodo CMS itself is built on two fantastic Open Source products, the programming language PHP and the database MySQL, both long lasting and highly successful enterprise class environments with very large and growing developer communities. Komodo CMS is also most commonly deployed on Linux OS, and the most successful web server software in the world, Apache Web Server, both of which are Open Source environments. Open Source is here to stay where there is a credible and financially viable business model, this is usually where a community of mutual benefit can be derived and where technical input is guaranteed. This almost by definition means that Operating Systems and Development Environments are the ideal domain of open source (the communities are large, they are technology focussed and their livelihood comes from individual enhancement on the community driven core). You may be a step in front of me here and realise the problems that confront Open Source at the customer application level which is outlined in more detail in our section on Open Source Solutions. In a nutshell, Open Source solutions are worth examining if you have internal development resources (IT boffins) who are willing to immerse themselves in one of these communities. Remember however that one of the reasons that these solutions are free is that you have to either internalise significant labour based costs or employ consultants. On this topic, our section on Other Services is worth reading when analysing the total cost and effort of deploying Open Source solutions.

Links with lists or details of Vendor Organisations
Google DMOZ Project - Content Management Systems >>
CMS Matrix Product Comparison (managed by WebGUI) >>
Step Two Design's List of Australian CMS Vendors >>
CMS Wire's list of Vendors by type >>