Drupal White House? IBM, Oracle and Microsoft Are Already Excited

by: Dennis Byron

If you follow the growth of content management software (CMS) in the enterprise software market for a living and also follow United States politics as a civic responsibility, your worlds intersected during the week of October 26. The leading related headlines in the blogosphere in terms of most frequent appearance went something like this:

  • "White House Switches to Drupal, Making Obama Our First Open-Source President.."
  • "WhiteHouse.gov goes Drupal: can open source lead to open government?"
  • "White House opens Web site programming to public."

So if you invest in IBM (NYSE:IBM) Filenet (FILE), Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) Stellent (NASDAQ:STEL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Sharepoint or dozens of other CMS products marketed by publicly traded companies [e.g., Autonomy (OTC:AUTNF), EMC (EMC) Documentum, OpenText (NASDAQ:OTEX), and more], should you be following these developments closely?

The answer is yes, but don’t depend on any of the stories or blog posts that appeared on the blogosphere during the past week for your background information.

You should pay attention because CMS is a hot enterprise software market area that should buoy many of these public companies’ share prices over the next decade as the need to manage unstructured data (like rich web site content, email databases, etc.) becomes more prevalent than managing structured data (like numbers, names and addresses in an ERP system, supply chain logistics, etc.). Just as the ERP market matured and consolidated during the 2000-2009 decade, CMS will mature and consolidate between now and 2019. So there will be winners and losers just as with ERP, a market that could not support the dozens of separate suppliers that existed 10 years ago and that has now effectively been winnowed down to a few choices (Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU), Microsoft, Oracle, Sage and SAP (NYSE:SAP)).

As for the whitehouse.gov stories that have permeated the blogosphere this week, I have not seen so much drivel and deception since 2005 when IBM and a few low-level information technology (IT) bureaucrats in Massachusetts tried to convince you that Massachusetts was some kind of leading-edge proponent of Sun (JAVA) Open Document Format. The Drupal postings whose headlines are noted above are full of the same kind of incredible misinformation as the Massachusetts ODF articles of 2005:

  • As explained here on capitalgig.com, Obama was NOT the first open source president when it came to CMS at least (Clinton probably was but no one from that era has weighed in)
  • Open source—at least commercial open source marketing that involves red, white and blue for-profit companies such as Acquia, the sponsors of Drupal, along with General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), the developers and implementers of the current whitehouse.gov—has nothing to do with open government and GD’s and Acquia’s market dynamics are exactly the same as IBM’s, Oracle’s, etc.
  • The White House did not open its website’s code to the public; that would be just plain dumb
As for all of the blogoblather about Drupal there were a set of anti-Drupal headlines during the week as well. For example
  • "Why Drupal in the White House is a Bad Idea"
  • "Obama's biggest blunder - Drupal?"
Lest you think these posts come from George W. Bush supporters who are mad that he wasn’t given the credit he deserves (as if he even knows what the discussion involves) for putting up an open-source-Perl-based CMS in 2001-2002 or from IBM, Oracle, etc. CMS proponents worried about Acquia and its 300 support customers, neither is the case. All the anti-Drupal vitriol comes from other open source CMS products. Go figure.

And only one blog post that I saw in the past 10 days pointed out that Drupal got kicked off the recovery.gov web site at the White House the same week that it got put on the whitehouse.gov web site. Not much investment potential in a marketing machine that loses one for every one that it wins.

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