Web CMS Thoughts from Gilbane Day One

After participating in the first day of the Gilbane San Francisco conference yesterday, here some short observations in no particular order.

    By my count, once-little Ektron has seen four years of hyper-growth. The company says they now have 200 employees. If accurate, I'll guess this head-count puts them at about US$30-40m in revenues, which sizes Ektron in the ball-park of some of the larger standalone Web CMS vendors (like FatWire, or Tridion before the SDL acquisition), or even the CMS product groups of some larger vendors. You're probably not surprised to hear that Ektron customers tell us this growth has not come without associated growth pains.

    Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz, who once worked on SharePoint Portal Server 2003 at Microsoft, called the MOSS 2007 platform a "collection of festering boils." You can ask him for clarification, but he seems to have meant it with love...

    Speaking of SharePoint, two channel partners told me that their local Microsoft reps were marketing MOSS for public websites really hard. Evidently Redmond wants to beat the rap that the tool is not ideal for public-facing sites, and doubtless would like to lengthen this customer list. So the integrators are asking themselves, "when Microsoft hands us a great lead to follow, how can we have a candid conversation with the prospect about their real alternatives?" Not a new story in the channel business, but a pressing one right now, and you the buyer should understand the institutional dynamics. See, this presents you a bit of a dilemma as well: ideally you'd find a vendor-neutral consultant to help you sort out your choices, but if MOSS wins your competition in the end, you really want to go with a partner who brings very deep skills in Web Publishing in SharePoint, because it's not a simple beast. If Redmond keeps pushing its partners, then "vendor neutral with very deep SharePoint skills" could become an oxymoron.

    If the exhibit hall is any indication, the Web CMS marketplace continues to expand, especially at the lower end -- perhaps dispelling the myth of a SharePoint steamroller, at least in this space. Smaller vendors here -- some of whom have participated for multiple events now -- include Acumium, Bridgeline, Broadchoice, Hippo, Telerik, and The Level, plus many of the other usual suspects we cover in our Web CMS Report 2008.

Of course, exhibitors come and go from year to year. One thing doesn't change though. Despite all the talk about Web 2.0, a lot of customers bring some very basic questions they want addressed about web publishing and CMS tools. I hope I can answer some of them at my tutorial tomorrow.

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Gil, Partner, Cancentric Solutions Inc.
iStudio Canada Inc.

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