Recently, the Real Story Group identified mid-market Microsoft .NET-based content management systems as the biggest Web CMS trend for Q3.

I was inspired to explore this topic a bit more, as industry anecdotes of organizations selecting one CMS vendor over the other based on the "We're a 100% .NET" claim sprang to mind.

Mid-Market .NET Web CMS Software on the Rise

According to version 19 of the Web CMS report, "the Microsoft mid-market" content management systems will exhibit dynamism in Q3. The .NET-based Web CMS (WCM) tools analyzed by the Real Story Group include such products and platforms as:

  • DotNetNuke
  • Ektron
  • EPiServer
  • GOSS
  • Kentico
  • Sitecore
  • Telerik
  • Umbraco

Although they all differ in features, price points, architecture and .NET purity, the one attribute they have common, says the RSG, is that they're able to fill the void left by SharePoint.

Tony Byrne, the Real Story Group founder, says that this Q3 trend has been identified largely due to a "confluence of the SharePoint 2010 hoopla" and "strong growth and entry of vendors in this segment." Byrne adds that this is "suggesting ample demand for mid-market .NET-based systems that MS is not filling."

The Demise of SharePoint Web CMS?

SharePoint has traditionally been a big topic here at CMSWire. With the release of SP2010 (see our SharePoint 2010 review) we were hoping to see improvements on the Web CMS side of the product. Alas, the WCM improvements have been somewhat disappointing, especially given how long that release has spent in R&D.

Web content management capabilities are cited among the weakest in SharePoint 2010 (and 2007) release despite the many improvements in the latest version -- such as enhanced metadata management, the ribbon and social media features via Communities.

CMSWire readers know that it's a stretch to call SharePoint a full-fledged web content management system. Nevertheless, as we mentioned before, Microsoft stated that they believe SharePoint is a good platform to support your Web CMS needs -- whether it's for an intranet, extranet or the Internet.

Nevertheless, SP2010 Web CMS features are not considered best-in-class.

Some may argue that where SharePoint falls short is in appealing to larger audiences than the IT folks. The majority of pure Microsoft shops have an extensive dependency on IT resources. Some of our SP gurus insist that SharePoint 2010 will long live under the wings of the IT deparment.

SP2010 can be great for techies, there are a lot of enhancements to make a MSFT devout smile: particularly improvements to SharePoint Designer, Visual Studio, SharePoint Foundation and Business Connectivity Services.

But the majority of Web CMS vendors are now offering connectors or integrations to/with SharePoint to eliminate that little obstacle, if there's no WCM replacement talk (yet). This is when sometimes more user-friendly and less expensive .NET Web CMS products can be  in a position for the classical "veni, vidi, vici."

Entry and Growth of .NET CMS Vendors Continues

Easy adoption in the organization is key to overall success of a new CMS implementation. At times, SP2010 falls short in this area, even in pure MS shops that like to use the full MSFT stack (MS SQL, Visual Studio, etc).

But that stack, along with SP2010 and its rather complex pricing structure, is not cheap. No wonder some organizations may consider $200K+ Intranet solutions from Ektron (or even cheaper alternatives as the one from Sitecore), for example, when they cannot get SharePoint to fill those functional shoes.

As we have been reporting, many .NET/ASP.NET CMS vendors are doing quite well despite economy setbacks and shrinking budgets. Here are a few samples:

DotNetNuke (news, site):

Ektron (news, site):

EPiServer (news, site):

Sitecore (news, site):

Umbraco (news, site):

Having lost count of the waves of European CMS vendors entering the U.S. market, relatively new-ish Sitefinity by Bulgaria-based Telerik made its entrance recently as well, though with their .NET components business, they've long been active on this side of the pond. The Web CMS part of the company has been busy, with frequent updates and plans a major new release later this year.

Czech-based Kentico (news, site) progressed from a beta in 2004 to being an active member of the U.S. web content management market.

Telligent (news, site) despite having a bit of trouble with its Graffiti Web CMS -- has taken Graffiti open source, and found a niche in Community, Analytics and Enterprise Collaboration tools.

The open source Sense/Net CMS (news, site) is slowly but steadily moving through beta releases.

emagiC (news, site) released CMS.Net v8.0 in early 2009 and progressed to v10 in March of this year.

In 2009 Bitrix (news, site) started offering a .NET version of what was originally its PHP-based Site Manager CMS, and put much focus on Intranet content management with Bitrix Intranet Portal.

Even Though Some .NET CMSs May Be Fading Away

Of course, we have also seen some departures from the stage. The former Immediacy and the CMS we used to call RedDot.

While with Immediacy, it's rather clear that Alterian decided to drop the product, RedDot (or Open Text Web Solutions) has been woven into a variety of product quilts over the past years with little certainty as to the direction of the product. Open Text hasn't officially announced they've discontinue support. And such an event may be a ways off, we don't know, but it wouldn't catch us by surprise.

Even with the above in mind, there's still plenty of choices in the Web CMS market for any organization -- big and small -- looking to play in the Microsoft world.

Can You Play for Both Teams? They'll Try.

Many mid-to-larger organizations have an strong inclination towards either the .NET or Java technology platforms (sorry, PHP, Ruby and Python). And some of them are large enough to be busy with both.

Given that in the upper tier of software buyers there is a certain amount of technology-based product filtering in the selection process, some content management vendors are trying to position themselves in both camps at once -- peddling plausible stories sure to please either camp.

While CMS vendor selection is usually performed by a hybrid business- and IT-minded group, IT are the ones weighing-in on the technology side (as they would). Noting IT's relative power in the tech domain, vendors have felt an incentive to please. And oh, the creative ways of making a mainly .NET CMS wrapped in some Java (or vice versa) appeal to the religious minded...

But there's big software license revenue on the table and so who can blame the vendors for playing the multi-platform card. It's a reality buyers need to be aware of, for even as we speak, more hybrids are on the way.