Nearly all the vendors we cover have become quite good at marketing themselves. But if you dig deeper, you'll find many differences have gotten wallpapered over. The challenging bit for us is trying to explain what lies underneath.
Take Alterian, and its Alterian Content Manager product. It's not, in fact, one product. In 2010, it was two quite different products sold as "editions" of one. In 2011, it will be one product sold in two editions. That's a much bigger change than it sounds.
Almost a year ago I reported that Alterian would drop Content Manager Corporate Edition (CMC), the former Immediacy product. Only the Content Manager Enterprise Edition (CME), the former Mediasurface product, would remain.
So where does that leave existing Alterian customers?
Well, if you're a customer you needn't worry about your current implementation too much. Alterian has since released CMC's last version ever, 6.3, but the company also stated it will support Immediacy/CMC until April 2015. This should give you plenty of time to migrate. What's more, Alterian will even throw in a free CME 7 license. Appealing as that may sound (what could be better than free?), beware. Don't forget that CME (Mediasurface) is quite different from CMC (Immediacy), and licensing is only a fraction of the total project cost. CMC to CME is not an upgrade -- it's a migration. You should treat this as a CMS selection project, and carefully investigate alternatives.
And what if you are in the market for a CMS?
Alterian CME version 7 was "launched" in November 2010, which somehow means it will actually become available at the end of this month. (Maybe the large amount of snow in December in the U.K. meant it couldn't actually lift-off yet.) Then, starting this year, Alterian wil sell two versions of the former Mediasurface Morello: the "Professional Edition" and the "Enterprise Edition".
But this time, the two offerings really will constitute "editions" of the same system. And that system will be based on Mediasurface/Morello.