The Differences that Set Acquia Apart Among WCM Leaders

For the third year running, Acquia has been positioned as a Leader by Gartner, Inc in the 2016 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management*. The report places Acquia (the only open source provider among the Leaders) high and to the right. We’re an elite among elites, with strong momentum, or as wrote, “Boston-based Acquia made the biggest positive move.”

If you haven’t seen the report, take a minute to download it.

I view the report’s results in a few ways.

In truth, I believe that our position in the Leaders’ quadrant is a great reflection of the hard work our global team does every day to help our customers achieve their digital experience goals with open source Drupal WCM running on Acquia Cloud, our Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). And the things that make us different from other vendors in the Leaders’ quadrant are worth looking at more closely.

Acquia’s placement also reflects our customers’ brilliant efforts to harness our platform for digital experience and business digitalization, enabling them to survive and thrive in a competitive world. Pfizer. BBC. Nestlé. Vodafone. The Government of Australia. These are just a few of the thousands of organizations who’ve successfully transformed with Acquia to deliver better experiences, drive higher engagement, and be more competitive and responsive to stakeholders.

Looking at the WCM landscape, I see a market that has changed dramatically. There’s still a lot of commonality, a lot of “me too,” among WCM vendors. For some, the WCM feature battles never end. They just shift efforts into new areas: How much MarTech can we stuff into our system today? In general, vendors talk the same talk, make the same promises, and deliver similar products. Everyone wants to help customers deliver better digital experiences. And, everyone wants to make it easier on you, the CIO, the CMO, the web developer, the digital / IT leader, the content marketer, to survive and thrive amid digital disruption.

What’s uncommon is how Acquia helps organizations achieve these goals. When someone asks me how Acquia has moved so fast to the pinnacle of WCM and digital experience, or why they must consider Acquia for digital transformation, I point to two key differentiators: open source and cloud.

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1. Open Source Drives Faster Digital Innovation

CIOs and other enterprise decision makers used to be allergic to open source software. Today, open source is eating the world. It’s inside every enterprise in one form or another, especially around web technology. Commercial software vendors even try to claim a stake by touting how elements of their software are based on open source. Open source is powerful and empowering. Open source is cool.

Here’s the fact: Acquia was founded to help organizations succeed with Drupal - the most widely adopted enterprise open source WCM worldwide. More than 1 million sites and tens of thousands of developers collectively stand behind Drupal. Organizations use it to innovate faster. Developers and IT teams build more robust digital platforms and experiences (not just sites). Marketers and digital leaders deliver and manage new levels of engagement across a proliferation of digital channels. Allergic to open source? Not anymore. Today, open source is an essential and preferred foundation for digital transformation, digital experience and rapid, ongoing innovation.

Here’s a fresh example: NASDAQ announced it’s leveraging Drupal 8 and Acquia for its new investor relations digital platform, powering the IR digital experiences of more than 3,000 publicly traded companies.

Stacie Swanstrom, Executive Vice President and Head of Nasdaq Corporate Solutions, said, “Our transition to open source technology empowers IR professionals to transform the online experience by improving communications with investors, media and buy-side and sell-side analysts. Born from both innovation and client demand, we are changing the way companies engage internal and external stakeholders by delivering best-in-class intelligence, analytics and streamlined communications tools."

2. An Approach That’s Cloud-First, Not Cloud-Fake

When we started nearly nine years ago, almost every enterprise did the same thing with their WCM software. They ran it on their internal infrastructure, kept their IT teams sweating, and invested way too much time, effort and expense in “on premise” hosting. Too many organizations did this, but failed to invest in digital innovation and new business models. Today, they’re gone or trying to catch up.

The same can be said for WCM vendors, who continued to build software destined for on-premise deployments.

Acquia believed the future of WCM and digital experience required a cloud-based platform to support open source, to provide a flexible, scalable, secure environment for sites and more -- a platform for digital business, a platform for innovation, without the customer worrying about infrastructure. Acquia’s cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service then and now remains Acquia’s focus. The speed of customers’ shift to cloud for WCM and DX has been explosive. Growth of Acquia’s PaaS has grown dramatically. Now, many of our competitors are trying to catch up (or, whitewashing their cloud offerings to make them look appealing. Cloud-washing, you might say.)

Today, our secure, scalable PaaS is used by thousands of enterprises worldwide for Drupal-based sites, multichannel experiences, and digital applications. Some organizations run one or two sites or applications; others run 1,000 or more.

Gartner analyzes the changing architectures of WCM systems, stating in the report: "Cloud-first strategies will win the day.”

Other WCM vendors try to pass off as equivalent their WCM “managed services” or claim traditional hosting as “cloud hosting” just because it’s running on rented infrastructure.

But enterprise decision makers have figured it out. The difference is in the details. The Acquia Platform provides not just production hosting for sites and digital experiences. It also provides the self-service tooling and capabilities for everyone involved in building and delivering digital results. And, our PaaS subscription is focused on security, scaling up and down on demand, monitoring and maintaining your infrastructure and your application itself - a world of difference from plain vanilla hosting. And, as your success grows (more sites, more applications, more innovation) your software license costs do not grow. (e.g. “Need another site? That will be $100,000 for another license.” Sound familiar? ) Another benefit of open source.

Reports from analyst firms like Gartner provide a great starting point to understand a fast-changing market and the major players. Download the report to get a clearer understanding of the WCM landscape and the vendors vying for your attention.

* “Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management,” by Mick MacComascaigh and Jim Murphy, September 28, 2016.