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Open Source, Community, and Freedom

I’ve been with Acquia for a few weeks and have greatly enjoying learning about Drupal and what makes an open source project succeed – the community. It’s such a different approach to product development than I’m used to, having spent most of my career working for commercial CMS companies. I’ve already seen the energy, commitment and passion of the Drupal community.

In fact, I’m beginning to believe that community is one of the most important factors in the long-term success of a CMS implementation project. CMS expert Deane Barker writes about An Oft-Overlooked CMS Feature: The Community

But here’s something that not many people look at, and something I maintain is critical: the quality of the community around the product.

Building a vibrant, sustainable community just isn’t a core competency of commercial CMS vendors. The reason? Communities are tied to vendors, and as history has shown – CMS vendors have varying levels of commitment to their products. Let’s look at a few examples of some commercial CMS products which once led the market, but have since faltered:

  • 6400 sites are still running Vignette and RedDot. Vignette and RedDot were acquired by OpenText and have seen little attention in OpenText’s crowded product portfolio.
  • 1357 sites are running on Oracle Stellent. Oracle bought Stellent 2006 and has since abandoned it in favor of Fatwire (which in turn has its own conflict issues within Oracle).
  • 1666 on Microsoft CMS. Microsoft acquired NCompass Labs 10 years ago and it became Microsoft CMS for a short time before being retired in favor of SharePoint.
  • 564 on CommonSpot. CommonSpot is the only remaining ColdFusion-based CMS, and while ColdFusion isn’t dead – it’s certainly in a tough spot relative to other development frameworks.
  • And while Autonomy/Interwoven (my former employer) isn’t tracked by Builtwith, there are thousands of sites running TeamSite, a product that was buried by Autonomy after the Interwoven acquisition, and now seems to have an uncertain future at HP.

(via trends.builtwith.com. By the way, Builtwith shows 554,000 sites on Drupal!)

In each of these cases, there was once a large vendor community surrounding formerly good CMS products. But commercial vendors have little commitment to sustaining a community when their goals change, either due to an event like an acquisition, or change in focus. The web content management space has been particularly volatile and lots of companies are stuck with CMS products that have no clear path forward.

That’s where open source wins; especially projects like Drupal with its engaged, committed community. Drupal isn’t tied to the success or failure of any single vendor. Acquia exists to help Drupal customers succeed, via offerings like the Acquia Network and Acquia Cloud.

Ultimately I think open source and community provide freedom. If you’re stuck on Vignette or Stellent or TeamSite or any of the other abandoned commercial CMS products, you need to make choosing community and freedom a priority.


Posted on by Fish (niet gecontroleerd).

DevNet for TeamSite used to be a great community for Interwoven. Sadly once Autonomy acquired them the community was abandoned by the company and became stale. That mirrors the abandonment of their TeamSite roadmap which hasn't seen anything meaningful since 2007.

Posted on by Tom Wentworth.

Agreed. DevNet was fantastic, and its demise illustrates what's wrong with commercial CMS - the strength of the product is directly related to the strength of the community.

Posted on by Jeff Vreeland (niet gecontroleerd).

This example is not limited to just web technology but life in general. When your neighbor has a problem, you help them out. If your neighbors problem is bigger then you both can solve you ask another neighbor and so on and so forth. Collectively, we can solve any problem.

Posted on by JGreen (niet gecontroleerd).

The blog author should check his source for "abandoned CMS products" and "... product that was buried by Autonomy". Our Interwoven CMS implementation experienced rapid innovation, change and several version upgrades within a space of two years under Autonomy. This seems like a sneaky devious blog to me.

Posted on by Tom Wentworth.

I guess we have different definitions of rapid innovation. I know TeamSite pretty well having spent 10+ years at Interwoven, and I haven't seen much change over the years. Most of the core architecture remains unchanged from the early days - templates/publishing, workflow, repository, etc. The only real innovation seems come from loosely-integrating Autonomy IDOL w/ TeamSite.

Posted on by Bharat (niet gecontroleerd).


Are there any case studies which showcase a migration from Interwoven to Drupal? We are in advanced negotiations with a large client, but need a compelling argument why we would recommend a move from Interwoven to Drupal.

Any help here would be much appreciated

Thanks Much

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