That is a conclusion Basex, an analyst and research firm, came to in a (at times, admittedly questionable) report entitled Content Management Systems: The New Math for Selecting Your Platform released in September 2009.

The researchers are saying the content management market is set to explode in the next several years, and open source CMS vendors are contributing to this growth, as well as to how customers are changing their CMS selection processes. Let's take a look at details -- some of them you may find quite amusing.

Open Source as a Driver in the CMS Market Explosion

Basex estimates that the U.S. market for content management reached about US$ 4.1 billion in revenue in 2008. By 2014, they estimate that it should jump to US$ 10 billion.

While we’ve seen many top-tier consolidations in the market recently (Autonomy, Open Text), which Basex says is a sign of proprietary CMS market maturity, mid-tier vendors (FatWire, Day) are thriving for the most part.

Meanwhile, open source content management projects (Joomla!, Drupal, Plone) are getting more attention as well and see rapid growth. It should be noted, though, that some organizations lack understanding of how exactly open source works (in terms of reliability and licensing, for example), or don’t even consider it for “political reasons,” according to the firm.

Basex says that Alfresco and Bluenog are “leading the charge” in the commercial open source market. Umm, many may not agree with this stance. What about players like Nuxeo and Acquia? If we were to judge market leadership by the number of customers and license deal sizes mentioned in this report, the math wouldn’t be the same. But let’s go on.

Open Source Affecting the CMS Selection Process

Basex says that open source is significantly changing the process of selecting a content management solution. With content getting out of control, Basex says it’s more important than ever to have “the right content management tool” for your company.

Then the research firm adds that “Fortunately, it’s gotten simpler to find the right [CMS] tool.” Umm, really? We do like this wording (found in the same report) better: “Choosing the right content management system is far from straight forward.”

While the report is profiling 16 CMS vendors, the most mentions seem to be given to Bluenog and Alfresco (approximately twice as many, compared to other open source or proprietary CMS vendors). If, in fact, certain vendors were involved in the makings of the report as underwriters, it would be nice to disclose that.

The vendor profiles include Autonomy, Acquia, Alfresco, Bluenog, Day Software, EMC, EPiServer, FatWire, Hippo, IBM, Microsoft, MindTouch, Nuxeo, Oracle, Open Text and Xerox.

Choosing the Right CMS Report

This report is part of a report series and costs US$ 1,799 special, or US$ 1,999 regular price.

We would suggest to carefully check information in the report against other sources. If you want to get a bit more depth. It probably wouldn’t be sensible to use the report as your sole reference when selecting a CMS, or when trying to get a general feel of the content management landscape.

Small (or big?) things like referring to CMIS as “the new standard… announced in September 2008,” whereas CMIS is not yet an official standard and only very recently got to the OASIS public review step, makes us wonder. We don’t question that CMIS may become a standard one day, but we do like to clarify “small” details like this one.

Furthermore, the breakdown of CMS vendors into tiers in this report is slightly unconventional -- with Microsoft ECM and SharePoint sitting right next to Percussion and Alterian. Not to mention there is a lack of clear differentiation between on-the-premise and hosted/SaaS vendors. One could imagine this distinction being an important one to many organizations in search of a CMS.

Leaving out DotNetNuke and eZ Publish from commercial open source CMS vendors seems like a significant omission. Some might also question Basex putting Bluenog into the commercial open source box -- actually, we’ve heard that debate before -- with its mix of proprietary code, Apache and other open source software.