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Sitecore FUD

Recently Sitecore, a vendor of a proprietary CMS, published a white paper called "The Siren Song of Open Source CMS". It has some good old Open Source FUD.

"In Greek mythology, the Sirens were seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices, only to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. In the world of enterprise software, Open Source applications have an appeal that many companies find hard to resist, but if heeded, can lead to similarly disastrous results: runaway development costs, unpredictable delays, frustratingly slow responses to urgent support issues, and exponential growth in downstream upgrade and enhancement costs."

In this case they enrolled the CEO of a digital agency to say all the FUD, as if that would either lend additional credibility to the FUD, or behind which they could hide their own feelings:

"As it happened, after several successful experiences using WordPress (an open blogging platform) and Drupal (an Open Source CMS application) in small-scale deployments, agencyQ experimented with using Drupal for larger, enterprise-caliber sites. … We quickly discovered that Drupal's capabilities were a mile wide and an inch deep."

Attempting a complex implementation with any platform with only limited experience in simple sites really just reveals the inexperience of the implementer rather than the limits of Drupal. The whitehouse.gov site shows all by itself that Drupal can scale to high-profile, high-function, high-volume websites.

"Lack of support has a ripple effect across an Open Source CMS project", Breen says. "Because you are starting with a blank slate, in terms of your system's functionality, anything can happen. And when issues arise, the absence of responsive support means that deadlines slip. As a service-driven agency, that is simply not good for business. … It all comes down to accountability, about which Breen jokes, "In high tech there is an old saying that salespeople invoke when they want to be your sole-source provider: 'You want one throat to choke.' While that's pretty graphic, it gets to the point: When something's not working with software, I need one number to call, one person to speak to who's going to help me."

I take offense to the notion that there is no good support for an Open Source CMS. With Drupal, enterprises can look to Acquia for the "one throat to choke", or can tap into a community of 600,000 developers if they want breadth.

"After making a concerted effort to work with an Open Source CMS, non-existent support was the last straw with what Breen found to be Open Source's extremely expensive total cost of ownership (TCO). In website development projects, CMS software costs typically comprise 5% of the total implementation costs. "But by saving 5% in software costs by choosing an Open Source CMS, you drive up the 95% of the 'other' costs significantly. That's not a good value equation, by any measure", he says."

The numbers in their own white paper don't add up. They suggest that Sitecore licenses only represent 5% of the project's total implementation cost. We know from analyst firm Real Story Group that the Sitecore license component of a deal is $100,000 on average. That means that the average Sitecore project costs $2 million? That is much more than the average Drupal project.

Where have you seen this kind of FUD before? From any proprietary software vendor that is starting to feel competitive blows from an Open Source alternative. I see this white paper as a victory for Open Source and Drupal as they are being forced to call us out. Drupal is hurting them. Sitecore has reasons to be afraid.

Maybe the Siren that Sitecore is hearing is from the ambulance they've called for help? ;-)

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