Web Content Management Marketplace Circa 2005
By Tony Byrne at 2005-01-11 00:00:00 |
Having just completed the 7th Edition of The CMS Report, let's examine once again the Web content management marketplace as a whole.
The CMS marketplace has changed more incrementally than qualitatively over the past year, but some of those changes have added up to some fairly significant developments. This article looks at a half-dozen trends CMS Watch sees in the Web content management industry.
Trend #1: Mid-Market Challengers
With this version of the Report (and on our Products page), we add a new tier of vendors: "Mid-Market Challengers." These solutions -- whose licenses generally range from US$15-40k -- provide plausible alternatives for corporate websites and intranets. The Report takes a close look at Ektron 300/400 , Refresh Software, Roxen, and SiteCore. Other players at this tier include EPiServer and Synkron.
The Challengers have typically built a base of customers off simple, low-cost, out-of-the- box solutions, but having established themselves at the low end of the marketplace, are now using their growing revenue base to develop newer and more sophisticated development platforms. These platforms are often built on XML (Refresh excepted) and feature novel Web Services interfaces, but cater to smaller development shops.
They also tend to target use cases with fewer contributors and therefore generally have somewhat underdeveloped workflow and role management subsystems. Nevertheless, the cost point is certainly attractive.
Trend #2: Vikings Cometh?
Scandinavia has been and continues to be a hotbed of advanced web development in general and CMS development in particular. Major private and public-sector customers have sustained a plethora of healthy regional vendors, including Synkron (Denmark), Roxen (Denmark), EPiServer (Sweden), Polopoly (Sweden), SiteCore (Denmark), and Web500 (Denmark), among others. To be sure, some vendors are doing better than others, but most on this list have spread their wings beyond the region to penetrate the UK and the difficult German market, while putting at least a modest footprint into the rest of Europe and even North America.
These latter-day software marauders tend to bring very modern technical architectures -- commonly built on .NET -- and a strong base of customers back home to finance their international adventures. Even the open-source project Midgard has found a base of sorts in Scandinavia, and has grown through a loose network of developers around the Baltic Sea into a kind of new CMS Hanseatic League.
Trend #3: Patch-and-Fill at the Enterprise Tier
Enterprise content management vendors continue to patch and fill with their Web content management offerings. Vignette has struggled to restore features to its 7.X dot-releases that it left out when the company rewrote its core software. Interwoven has had to redress persistent bugs and scalability problems while persuading reluctant customers to upgrade to its latest release. Stellent soldiers on as always. Documentum is still seeking a "feel" for how web content differs from document management. FileNet has essentially relegated Web content management to a backwater. OpenText is still digesting various content management acquisitions.
To be sure, the latter three companies have done very well in the marketplace and stock markets, largely by dint of their other ECM offerings. All the major players face a marketplace that will generate large deals for imaging and business process management, but with some exceptions, buyers seem to have decided that managing Web content is a more situational, departmental activity, worthy of lower costs and simpler solutions.
Trend #4: Return to Simple
Indeed, nearly every CMS vendor is falling over itself today to describe their product as "intuitive" or "easy-to-use." But usability remains in the eyes of the author and editor, as different enterprises seek to fulfill varying usage scenarios.
This evolution is part of a grander ongoing experiment about whether and how managing Web content can be effectively distributed to "casual business users." Some enterprises are beginning to think not. Look for us to cover this issue more in the coming year.
Trend #5: Beyond Internet Explorer
That experiment in distributed authoring does indeed continue, and enterprises are discovering that their attempts to mandate MS Internet Explorer as the universal browser have failed. For very good reasons, some employees continue to use Macs while others have quite sensibly installed FireFox on Windows (not to mention Linux). Vendors with Windows/IE-specific interfaces have come into a bind.
Some suppliers are responding. In the last version of this article, I highlighted how some CMS vendors were developing native Mac interfaces. Similarly, some others (like PaperThin) are using FireFox extensions to develop custom interfaces for that browser. Nearly all the major vendors we cover have retired or are replacing IE-specific DHTML.
Trend #6: Repository Search
As content repositories get larger and richer, buyers are beginning to pay more attention to internal search capabilities. It turns out that CMS users need the same search capabilities that website visitors need, and then some.
Some vendors have had to play catch-up here. Interwoven has just added selected Verity capabilities to TeamSite. Percussion now bundles a version of Convera RetrievalWare. Ingeniux optionally embeds the IxiaSoft XML database for better and faster indexing.
Search can get tricky, though, and remember that you will likely need to undertake some tuning and customization (if not outright integration) to get search right on large projects. When looking at repository search capabilities, pay special attention to results relevancy and "actionability" -- whether you can act on content items in the resultset from within a CMS interface.
Marketplace trends are interesting to examine, but ultimately we write The CMS Report for you, the prospective solutions buyer. What works for you might not work for another enterprise. So we consider each CMS offering individually. There is no perfect CMS and no predominant Web content management suppliers today, but a little diligence can yield good choices for your particular circumstances.
Best wishes for 2005.