Mid Range .NET CMS licence fee shocker!
Well, not really a shocker...more a reality check. This is in
reference to a recent article published on CMSWire about mid market web CMS vendors
Having used a number of content management systems over the last
10 years including Reef (ironically this 'sank' without a trace),
Microsoft Content Management Server, Obtree, Immediacy (gulp) and
Sharepoint (if you can call this a CMS) and sat through a number of
other platform demonstrations such as Sitecore and episerver. I am
aware of the weird and wonderful world of vendor pricing
Some are per server, per domain name, per developer seat, per
licence, or a combination of all these. Then there are the added
(some hidden) extras such as installation fees, enforced training
courses for developers, annual maintenance which is usually
anywhere between 15% and 20% and of course the cost of actually
implementing the system.
But, just how high some of the licence fees can escalate
has actually surprised...no...shocked me!
"...more than 3 content managers, you must purchase
Sitecore's Professional Edition (includes Web CMS and OMS), which
starts at US$ 60k (£40K) for the first server...you are more likely
going to want a second server to support higher levels of traffic
or internal development environments, etc. This means additional
costs of anywhere between US$ 20 (£13k) and US$ 40k
So in summary you are talking a figure approaching the $100,000
(£65,000) mark. And I'm sure this could quite quickly escalate in
some circumstances. This is without any annual support, development
fees, consultancy, hosting or integration with 3rd party
Lets just take a second and look at that number again...that's
£65,000 (sixty five thousand pounds), or in real terms 65,656
things from your local 99p shop, admittedly you'd need a bigger
trolley, 82,278 downloads from iTunes (UK) or 650,000 1p sweets, I
like rhubarb and custard if anyone's feeling generous :)
In terms of a full project, I'd expect the total cost to be
nearly double the licence fees and then some, so you'd be looking
at a total project cost of somewhere in the region of £130k - £150k
by the time you'd tweaked, toned, perfected, mended and
This sounds like a huge sum of money, and don't forget those
extras, there would also be the ongoing annual vendor support
costs, which, if we take an average of 18% of the licence fee,
would be in the region of £12k per year to cover upgrades and bug
fixes, but this would not include the partner fee for installing
the upgrades or further development work.
My biggest question is why do companies feel they need to
spend these sorts of fees on content management systems?
Is it the number of extra features provided? Is it the perceived
quality of the codebase? Is it the feeling of security spending a
lot of cash gives? Or is it the fact that the decision maker feels
they have someone else to kick if it all goes wrong?
And don't forget, the systems highlighted in the article are
just 'Mid Range' systems. I can't even begin to imagine the fees
involved in the projects for the Vignette's of the world.
The Open Source alternative...well Umbraco of
There is an alternative out there...one that doesn't cost
the earth and is as robust and secure as any commercial system. The
alternative is the world of open source.
I guess the historical perception of open source products is
that they were written by Metallica t-shirt wearing, non-speaking,
zero personality geeks in a dark room somewhere with no control or
credibility (I gave my t-shirt away when my hair fell out by the
This is obviously not the case, given the success of systems
such as Wordpress, Drupal and Umbraco.
Taking Umbraco as an example, because this is what I know best,
the reality is that there is as much control and structure as with
any commercial offering, sometimes more.
Umbraco is a commercial operation funded by support contracts,
gold partnerships and umbraco.tv subscriptions. It now has 11 full
time employees who are spread around the world covering every time
HQ's purpose is solely to provide stability, longevity and
direction to the product. They don't provide professional services
and don't have licences to sell to meet Board or shareholder
Underneath the HQ is a team of devoted MVP's and core
contributors who work tirelessly to bug fix and improve the
platform, then there is the community as a whole, which must now
number some tens of thousands of people around the world.
And how much does all this cost I hear you ask? Well the
simple answer is simple. Nothing...zero...zilch...
You still have to actually implement the system and integrate it
into an organisation, but there is no more work than any other
commercial offering out there in the marketplace, and it will be
significantly more cost effective.
In my experience, products that on the surface may seem nice and
shiny, slick and well written with lots of modules that promise to
magically solve all your organisation problems, still need an awful
lot of configuration and set-up to get them to work just as you
require. Sometimes more!!!
There is never a catch all solution to any requirement. Every
company has there own processes and needs and it is my opinion that
a system should help solve and reduce the workload of the staff who
use them. It should not add another level of complexity into an
already busy day with yet another system you have to learn and get
used to with its own nuances and quirks.
Give it a go
Anyway, I'm off to sit down and drink some sweet tea to
get over the shock. In the meantime why not keep you wallet in your
pocket for now and take a look at the open source world, preferably
Umbraco of course and give it a go or even better come and see me and I'll show
And if you do feel the urge to spend upwards of £50k on
something, you could always give it to a much worthier cause :)
p.s. these are obviously just my ramblings, please let me know
if I am in any way innaccurate :)