CrowdFusion_Logo_2009.jpgOne of the newest web content management platforms to come our way is Crowd Fusion (news, site). Although only in private beta testing at this time, it is getting some notice. So we thought we would dig a little deeper into what this new platform is all about and you would consider implementing it.

Here's what we learned.

It's About the Ultimate Website

Brian Alvey is a pretty interesting guy to talk to. His list of accomplishments is long, varied and has a strong content management focus.

But it seems that what brought Crowd Fusion to life, didn't start as a plan to build a content management system. It started as a plan to build the ultimate comic website.

This website would encompass a number of components, including structured data, blogs, RSS and social capabilities. Add to this vertical search and lots of external information and you have the ultimate comic book website -- everything you ever wanted or needed to know about comic books.

Actually you have the ultimate website for just about any topic -- which was why Crowd Fusion was created.

Designed for Big Publishers

Crowd Fusion has been architected to work well at scale. So for a website that has millions of records, which is what the top 10 comScore sites deal with, this Web CMS is a perfect match.

It's biggest strength is in its ability to store and manage structured data. And not just your companies, but anything on the internet related to your publishing focus.

Alvey says there is also a case for smaller companies for things like landing pages, knowledge bases, and structured data needs, but they are still trying to think about the benefits of curating data for a smaller company.

The Decision to Go Open Source

When Alvey first demoed the Crowd Fusion platform to Robert Scoble, he talked about the market for the WCM being large publishers. And he talked about potentially offering both hosted and on-premise solutions.

Two weeks later at TechCrunch50, where the platform was demoed, Alvey announced Crowd Fusion would be open sourced under the BSD license. We asked Alvey why the change of mind.

He told us that the decision came from talking to large companies. He said there were three primary reasons for the decision to go open source:

  1. To get it into developer hands quickly for testing and improvements
  2. For organizations who preferred to host themselves (and since they have it, they can pretty much do with it whatever they want anyway)
  3. To not have to deal with licensing fees (because no one wants to host forever)

Alvey said big companies will want to work with Crowd Fusion, the company, regardless. In a similar manner as Drupal and Acquia (except no hosting), Crowd Fusion, the company, will offer support, custom development and training for Crowd Fusion, the Web CMS.

They will also, for large publishers, support hosted Crowd Fusion based websites to ensure the hosting provider doesn't do anything that will affect the Web CMS and as a result, the company's website. Their first customer with a hosted implementation is expected to launch in March of 2010.

The Beta Program

Currently there are 600 people registered for the Beta program. The first set of tests were dedicated to getting rid of installation issues on a number of hosted environments.

Beta testers will be added in waves, with the Crowd Fusion team hand-holding developers through their testing. The first wave has 20 developers. They will get the code and existing documentation.

Alvey said he didn't want to over program and over document the platform, but build both up as they go and see what people need.

The Crowd Fusion Beta program is expected to be open to the public sometime in December.

The Only CMS You Will Ever Use

At TechCrunch50, Alvey called Crowd Fusion "the only CMS you will ever use". For organizations with large publishing websites, you can see this being possible. You can also see it for smaller organizations with less data to manage, but the same requirements.

For websites that need to manage and integrate a large amount of structured data for their audience, Crowd Fusion is the right CMS.

Crowd Fusion is designed to be a topic-focused publishing website. CMSWire could use to manage content management reviews (thanks for the suggestion Brian), NBC could use it, TechCrunch's CrunchBase could use it. Some developers have expressed the desire to create "hyper-local" news sites.

If still aren't sure it's the right web content management platform for you, see it in action and imagine the possibilities.