It's hard to know what the deal is with Vignette. Poor financial results and some unflattering press throughout the summer suggest all's not well with this aristocratic web and enterprise content management brand. But awards aplenty and an enduring client-base chock-full of marquee names suggests the opposite. The company has been kicked around a little bit lately in the press. And so, cutting a long story short, we got in contact with Dave Dutch, senior VP for products and marketing, to give him the chance to craft some arguments for why our readers should pick Vignette ahead of its competitors. Wedged inline we also offer our own observations on these views. Pass the jump to burrow yourself in.

Reasons to Pick Vignette

1. Innovation

VIGN says: Video is fast becoming a requirement for delivering an engaging and complete Web experience, and Vignette is the only company that provides a complete rich media solution that embraces the video-centric web. Think about the most engaging and interactive Web experiences you’ve had recently. I’ll bet 9 out of ten times, they involved some form of video. Vignette is the only major vendor that manages video, rich media and all other Web content from a single integrated platform. Additionally, Vignette’s Web 2.0 platform enables social media and online communities (blogs, wikis, ratings, tagging, forums, etc.) while making content relevant and easy to find through recommendations, and personalization. Vignette is continuously innovating. Since the beginning of the year, we have released eleven products to the market. CMSWire says: Yes, Vignette is a proven innovator, but it's a stretch to say that it's the only company to provide a complete rich-media solution that embraces video. Pretty much everyone recognizes the importance of video nowadays, even relatively small players like EPiServer. That said, we give them kudos for offering solutions to specific verticals, and for doing so with a clean and usable media product. Although companies like eZ Systems and Clickability will claim the same, new packages like Vignette Media, focused on the media and publishing sectors, show great promise. Offering social media features and blogs, wikis etc. is de rigeur by today's standards, and, while Vignette is solid in this regard, it is just one of a host of solution sets which will do the same.

2. Future Proof

VIGN says: Vignette’s architecture and modern platform helps our customers do what they want to do now and can scale to meet the needs of what they will need to do two to five years from now. NASA is a great example: Four years ago, NASA recognized the need to offer a more engaging Web experience to their constituents. They had content unlike any other organization on the planet (photos of Black Holes, astronaut blogs and video of comets speeding across the galaxy), but no good way to share it with the public. NASA bought Vignette Portal and the rest is history. Their award-winning site now contains millions of content items and can be personalized to meet the unique interests of any visitor. In fact, NASA liked what was happening with the external portal so much, that they’re now using Vignette for their employee and engineering portals. There’s a terrific story in the July edition of CIO magazine on NASA’s content management challenges. Our approach of separating content management and content delivery gives our customers the ability to implement the most efficient workflows, publish syndication across multiple websites and have multi-channel delivery across various devices. CMSWire says: No arguments about NASA -- it's incredible. However decoupled content management and content delivery has been recognized by many vendors as the way to go for some time (e.g., SDL Tridion).

3. Enterprise-Grade and Reliability

VIGN says: Our customers bet their business on Vignette. They can use any technology they want, but after deep analysis and testing, they pick Vignette... At Vignette, we actually deliver a reliable enterprise-grade solution for the most demanding of environments. Vignette is based on a high-performance architecture that supports the world’s most demanding Web experiences. That’s why brands like Wachovia, Marriott, Fox Business News and Martha Stewart rely on us. CMSWire says: VIGN's long years of experience serving the enterprise ensures that they're flexible and reliable when it comes to delivering large-scale solutions. But hey, Microsoft and those other guys aren't bad either. And while we're at it, we have to mention something about long product development cycles, and VIGN's slowness in adopting its own new releases. Would that be out of fear of complex content migrations and painful upgrades? As Tony Byrne points out, Vignette is hardly the only developer to be tardy about upgrading the home website.

4. Experience

VIGN says: No one has more experience in Web Content Management than Vignette. We pioneered the space more than a decade ago, and our vision continues to drive and shape the Web today. We are leading the shift toward a video-centric Web and bringing community and social media capabilities to the enterprise. Most importantly, we are bringing to the market real solutions that address real business challenges. CMSWire says: Vignette has been doing its thing since 1995, launching the first version of StoryServer in 1997. The company was one of the first, possibly the first, to introduce the core set of concepts and features which comprise Web Content Management. You can find history of Web CMS here and here. Incidentally, we'd love someone to wade in here and school us with a more definitive history of Web CMS.

5. Our Company and Our People

VIGN says: A great source of pride at Vignette is our ability to bring on and retain good talent. The average tenure of a Vignette employee is nearly five years. We are dedicated to making our customers successful. Don’t believe us? Check out what one Forrester analyst wrote after attending a recent Vignette event. Vignette is a profitable company with a strong balance sheet. We are big enough to provide mission-critical solutions to the world’s greatest brands, and small enough to innovate and react quickly to market conditions. We are 100% focused on bringing content to life for our valued customers. CMSWire says: Vignette's Q1 2008 revenues just about hit targets, but the figures were down a buck or twelve on 2007. Still, it's a recession, stupid, and there were no alarm bells set off with a net loss of just under US$1 million. More troubling was the fact that licensing revenue was down sharply, amid concerns that customers think licenses are simply too expensive. Nothing if not tenacious, Vignette clung on when all around her were sinking during the dot-com collapse at the turn of the century, despite literally billions being wiped off the share price. If the current economic malaise starts chewing up technology companies, here's one CMS vendor that knows how to weather a storm.


Vignette is plainly a company in transition. Given the present financial turmoil, that could be said of many vendors. But Vignette's troubles predate the current global meltdown. Competition from other vendors has eaten into their market share. The growth trend is flat. The SaaS model is changing the licensing landscape. There are Web CMS vendors gaining ground with simpler solutions. There are up and coming Enterprise CMS vendors challenging them on the unstructured content field. There are vendors highly focused on the media space which will make entry there difficult. On the plus side, the company's ace in the hole is a long list of top tier clients, many of whom have enjoyed a long and profitable relationship with Vignette. And few companies can claim to know the market space as well, for as long, as this old Houston software hand. Overall, we believe that significant challenges will continue to nibble at the many fringes of the Vignette empire. And this is having an effect -- there's what we would call a not so positive pattern in VIGN's financials. If you look under the hood a bit, their income source looks to be shifting from license revenues towards services. That bears keeping an eye on and shadows the statement from the last earnings report by President and CEO Mike Aviles: "we are not where we want to be from a license revenue perspective." Is Vignette still in the game? We'd say "yes". With adequate, strategic innovation and an eye towards simplification they will most likely continue to attract new customers and continue to be a contender. The latest play into the media space seems to be a bit of a CM trend lately. We're curious to see if it's just the gambit VIGN needs to survive the bumpy financial season ahead.