The last thing you want in a web content management system (CMS) is something kludgy.
Josh Koenig preaches this — and he knows the industry well. He's co-founder and head of developer experience for Pantheon, a San Francisco-based website platform for Drupal and Wordpress sites.
Where should web CMS users be headed in 2015 and beyond? In a webinar hosted by Pantheon and CMSWire yesterday, Koenig said the best option is a platform that leverages open source technology.
"A good platform lets you realize full value of open source," said Koenig, who's also the co-founder of Chapter Three, a San Francisco-based Drupal agency. Platforms, he added, make managing websites easier and faster, and helps drive standardization in an organization's web development and management processes.
Because of the rapid innovation in web development, there's always the potential for chaos, Koenig said. For instance, you might have blogs, a knowledge-base site and a flagship site. Different implementations at different times. Maintenance by different teams scattered across different infrastructures.
What if your blog is on Amazon, your development knowledge base is on Rackspace and your flagship site is on something else?
Koenig called this a dramatization in the webinar, but one attendee told us it wasn't a stretch based on her experience. It's not easy getting these systems -- and the people managing them -- to connect. Platform fragmentation is one of the biggest concerns for people evaluating open source.
"This current state of chaos tells me platforms are the answer," Koenig said. "I need the capacity to launch as many sites as I want, with whatever team I want, without feeling like I'm going to pay for it down the line. A good platform takes out the chaos by de-fragmenting your organization."
In a platform/open-source driven process, running multiple sites with multiple teams effectively will "be the norm," Koenig added. "You shouldn't be stressed out about launching a website."
You want to be able to "train people on a common set of best practices." Tapping into a good platform, you won't constantly tax senior developers or the IT department to "handle traffic spikes."
"With a platform, everything is consistent," he said. "There are no questions on where a development environment might live. It offers true consistency between environments."
If you're not sure if a vendor is offering you a real platform or not, Koenig advises asking how long it takes to launch a website. How long does it take to on-board and off-board a developer? Those should be real time operations. Also, a service where the production is on different architecture from other environments is a "big red flag."
True Cost of Open Source
Koenig is a realist. He knows nothing's perfect -- especially in the world of web technology. He discussed some reasons why people may not be adopting open source web technology, the first of which is "because open source isn't free."
"The big challenges historically is you end up owning the entire stack," he said. "It's an enormous amount of ground to cover, and it takes a lot of energy to implement."
This is where running platforms can help, he said, by allowing web teams to focus on websites instead of infrastructure.
Large Talent Pools
The benefits of open source? Flexibility and freedom. It allows "control of your own destiny." Innovation is endless when you're not locked into a particular vendor, he added.
It's got proven scalability, and better access to hundreds of thousands of practitioners with the same challenges, solving common problems.
"Someone builds a plug-in somewhere," Koenig said, "and you can get it for free. You can also tap into a huge marketplace for services and vendors; much larger than any technology that supports only a few hundred or a few thousand sites."
You can watch the full webinar below.