When we think about the rise of the cloud and its impact on the world of information management, we typically think about alternative storage platforms or perhaps software-as-a-service products.
But there is one angle that deserves more attention: the rise of the enterprise CMS marketplace. Cloud services for storage and application distribution, coupled with a growing comfort of enterprises to consume business software via downloads and plug-ins, means that we are seeing an innovation that could change the face of Enterprise CMS procurement in years to come.
More and more content management vendors have been stepping into the world of online “app” stores and marketplaces over the last couple of years. As preparation for this article, 8 vendors supplied insights into their marketplace strategy. A cross-section of mature vendors and new vendors, using both closed and open source development models were reviewed, and the key trends are highlighted here.
What is an Enterprise CMS Marketplace?
A marketplace is an online download or e-commerce site allowing organizations to select apps, plug-ins, templates or other pre-packaged extensions for the base CMS platform. These packaged applications can be free or paid. The packaged applications may be provided by the vendor, by partners or community contributed. For all vendors, the marketplace is described as a way to spur product adoption with packaged templates, accelerators or themes.
Figure 1: Liferay Marketplace Screenshot
For the open source vendors particularly, the marketplace is also a source of revenue, enabling the sale of either third-party templates/skins, or premium, supported integrations and applications. DotNetNuke hosts over 10,000 extensions at its marketplace, resulting in 50,000 transactions last year, while eZ Systems hosts about a dozen paid extensions in its market, all including full end-to-end QA and support by in-house engineering.
The marketplace, however, is not unique to open source vendors. CMS providers such as EMC and OpenText also provide app and template marketplaces. EMC established its developer community in 2001 as a way to engage its partner and customer ecosystem and share free “xCelerators,” sample applications, utilities, components and integrations. This has resulted, for EMC, in faster product adoption, improved customer engagement and satisfaction levels. OpenText launched their Web Site Management product family "Solution Exchange" early in 2010. Downloadable extensions, free and paid, include plug-ins to the core product along with examples of projects and best practices created by partners and the user community.
Important Part of Vendor Strategy
Vendors such as OpenText, Liferay, EMC and DotNetNuke view their marketplace as an important way to accelerate product adoption. Simplification of the CMS deployment and shortening the time-to-production are major objectives. The “one-stop shop” approach to tools, extensions and templates is intended to help customers and partners move implementation forward faster, with the broadest range of available tools and integrations. An authoritative, vendor-sanctioned source for extensions means less duplication of effort or needlessly building tools from scratch.
Figure 2: EMC xCelerator with sample vertical apps
EMC and eZ Systems also position their marketplaces as sources of vertical industry applications. Pre-built solutions for public sector, media and publishing or digital marketers are available to meet complex or unique needs of target industry groups.
Vendors such as Nuxeo, as well as Liferay, also view the marketplace as a hub for new feature and module distribution. These platforms are inherently modular and extensible, meaning launches of new features can happen when they are finished, no need to wait for the next major platform release. New features are released through the marketplace: a logical expression of an agile development approach.
Integration of marketplace downloads and the product system administration tools helps make this a simple experience that detects the customer environment (release version, dependencies, other installed apps). Nuxeo and Liferay include this level of integration today, with other vendors including OpenText (for Website Management products) planning this for future releases.
Looking Into the Future
The playing field is about to become more crowded. More CMS vendors are preparing launches of their own marketplace sites in 2012. Alfresco and Sitecore are just two of the vendors reporting that a marketplace is on the roadmap.
Vendors are also leveraging their current marketplaces as an interim step toward enhanced cloud editions of their core product platforms. Liferay, Nuxeo, OpenText WSM, eZ Systems and DotNetNuke all expressed plans to offer enhanced cloud instances of their products. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) offerings will require ways for customers to customize their cloud production environments, and marketplaces can help accelerate adoption and acceptance with customers who need the flexibility to tailor their systems. Connecting a marketplace to the cloud edition will be key for vendors planning to grow their SaaS and PaaS channels.
What would be cool in 2012? How about the rise of the private Enterprise CMS marketplace? The marketplace model seems ideal for large organizations who need to serve a diverse audience of information workers. Apps that are pre-approved by information managers and then available for simple download and plug-in for advanced functionality or integrations. Self-service downloads from a palette of organizationally-sanctioned modules is an effective balance between centralized and decentralized controls. Power to the people…without putting the enterprise at risk with untested, unknown external apps.
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