As Acquia begins to compete more often with Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) in enterprise web content management selections, I'm coming across a set of common objections coming from prospects after they speak with Adobe. We’ve been told by multiple customers that Adobe had an “unbiased partner” create a total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) document to compare Adobe AEM vs. Acquia.
The TCO document claims a typical Drupal project costs nearly 70% more than Adobe AEM, with example 3 years costs of approximately $2.4m for Adobe AEM and $4m for Drupal. I’ve read the document, and the total cost of ownership calculation makes hugely incorrect assumptions about Drupal in the areas of hardware cost and infrastructure, implementation cost, and support. For TL;DR people, here’s my takeaway:
Adobe’s sales team is feeling the impact of Drupal more than ever, and is resorting to desperate and reckless tactics which undermine the credibility of everything they tell prospects about Drupal and Acquia.
If you'd like to learn more, read on!
This section of the Adobe TCO document lists out the hardware components needed to run Drupal and Adobe sites e.g. front-end servers and databases. The main argument is that Drupal requires additional database servers, software licenses, and support, while Adobe does not.
Adobe AEM is built on the CRX repository, a standards-based Java Content Repository which came to Adobe via its Day Software acquisition. The CRX repository comes with the AEM application, and does not require a separate license. It's a slick architecture, and it’s one of the reasons that Adobe does well against legacy proprietary web content management companies like Oracle and SDL Tridion who require expensive database licenses and hardware.
But Adobe seems to think the same is true of Drupal. That is, that Drupal requires over $100,000 of database software licenses and support to achieve what Adobe provides for free with CRX. But Drupal runs on the LAMP stack, which like CRX, is also free. And when companies work with Acquia, we provide support for all application components, including the database, so there is no need for separate database support.
Not surprisingly, the TCO document completely ignores the cloud, because this is an obvious weakness for Adobe. Ironic, given Adobe AEM lives under the “Marketing Cloud” Adobe brand. While Adobe AEM can certainly be deployed in the cloud in places like Rackspace and Amazon, and Adobe does offer some management tools for deploying sites, they don’t support the site itself. For example, what happens when your AEM site breaks because of a bad code deploy? Acquia provides total application assurance in the form of supporting the entire digital lifecycle of the project - from development through testing through production.
When you consider the total cost to provide complete assurance of your Adobe AEM site, the costs skyrocket compared to what you get with an Acquia Platform subscription.