The web content management space is not homogeneous. And while the recently released Open Source CMS Market Share Report clearly highlighted the ongoing dominance of LAMP-based content management systems — these systems are not the only game in town.
In this article I look at brand leaders who have chosen to build their content management software on the Java or .NET technology stacks. Systems with strong brand awareness and adoption rates include Alfresco, Jahia, Liferay and OpenCMS on the Java side, and DotNetNuke and Umbraco from the .NET camp.
Looking Beyond LAMP
The LAMP stack is populist in nature. Not only does the stack carry the cost advantages of open source, but there also exists a wide assortment of low-cost hosting and a ready (and growing) supply of developers. These characteristics create low barriers for entry and an attractive choice for individuals, hobbyists and small to medium sized enterprises.
While few would dispute that there are numerically more deployments of the common LAMP stack systems, it would be a mistake to assume that this is the only platform that matters.
LAMP Systems Often Fail to Meet More Sophisticated Needs
The web content management space is not homogeneous. A hobbyist building a personal site, a small company building an online marketing presence, and a medium sized enterprise building a portal for customer relationship management are just three examples of widely disparate, yet common uses.
And while it is possible that all three of those groups might be looking at the same systems, it is more likely that those who require higher level functionality will look beyond the most common PHP-based systems. This argument becomes even more persuasive when you look at enterprise level clients.
PHP Systems Not Often on Enterprise Short Lists
For clients who demand more functionality, higher security and more robust platforms, Java-based and .NET-based content management systems hold a strong attraction. Indeed, in the enterprise space, those platforms are more likely to be the first choice.
Though it is certain that The Big Three — Joomla!, WordPress and Drupal — continue to improve their offerings and are more capable of supporting robust websites, I think it is fair to state that at this point in time few enterprise clients put them on their shortlist.
A Vibrant Java CMS Race
We included 4 Java-based systems in the survey: Alfresco, Jahia, Liferay and OpenCMS. Of the four, Alfresco topped the set in virtually all the metrics we looked at — in many cases ranking closely behind The Big Three PHP systems. It was a very strong showing for a system that is not normally thought of in the context of web content management (Alfresco primarily markets itself as a document management, Enterprise CMS or records management solution).
Liferay Demonstrates Brand Strength and Social Media Prominence
Alfresco had a strong lead over the other systems in brand recognition and brand familiarity ratings. While Alfresco lead Liferay in many metrics, it did not do so across the board; Liferay also performed very well. Liferay showed significantly greater strength in third party support, website popularity metrics and social media prominence.
Both Alfresco and Liferay ranked highly in the brand sentiment metrics, with Alfresco coming in third overall in 2009 survey — one of the clear leaders in this key metric. Liferay was not far behind, coming in sixth overall.
OpenCMS and Jahia Present but Lagging
Alfresco and Liferay lead OpenCms by a large margin in almost all categories and Jahia not only lagged relative to the other Java based systems, but was one of the weakest performers of the entire survey group. Most troubling for Jahia has to be the brand sentiment data which showed Jahia fourth from last in the survey set, with negative sentiment running very close to 50%.
In sum, from my perspective those interested in implementing Java-based open source content management systems for their web sites have a lot to cheer about. There exist several viable choices and at least two strong, growing players. This is a space that is set to grow and remain competitive in both the short and medium terms.
Survey Question: "Which of these companies or projects have you heard of?" (622 responses)
Lonely .NET Players Waving the FOSS Flag
.NET is not a platform most people traditionally associate with open source, but over the last couple of years that has begun to change. A large part of that credit has to go to the DotNetNuke team, who have been waving the open source flag and investing heavily in marketing that message.
Perhaps no other system in the survey has shown a more concerted marketing effort than DotNetNuke. That marketing has paid off in brand recognition and has opened the door for .NET as an open source alternative in the minds of many consumers.