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Convincing Your Employer To Go With FOSS?

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the ask-him-his-favorite-browser dept.

Businesses 369

mark72005 writes "My employer is currently looking at adopting a content management system for use by our technical support staff (primarily first-line end user support, but hopefully it will include deeper levels of support personnel eventually). The candidates are currently Plone (OSS) and Confluence (proprietary, closed-source). For those with experience in each, what arguments in favor of Plone could be made to managers more interested in pragmatism than idealism?"

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Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899496)


Re:Cost? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899564)

Falsest. Claim. Ever.

Re:Cost? (1)

Firehed (942385) | about 4 years ago | (#33899890)

Cost != price.

Re:Cost? (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | about 4 years ago | (#33900214)

That might be true, but in my experience the "support" you get from commercial CMS vendors is pretty much worthless. So if we assume that the FOSS support is equally worthless, at the very least FOSS gives you the advantage that you don't have to go through the vendor if there are bugs or other tweaks you want made.

It's tougher than you think... (4, Insightful)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 4 years ago | (#33899512)

My problem has been convincing them that they con't just pass of the cost of Windows to the customer. They like the fact that they can hire 3-4 MCSEs for the cost of one good Unix admin, but they don't realize that the Unix admin can set things up so that maintenance is much easier.

Windows is ingrained in business culture here, for the most part.

Re:It's tougher than you think... (3, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33899614)

Our company is even worse than that - we have shown them the cost savings of switching from Microsoft Office (Standard) to Open Office, demo'd the interoperability and the ease of switching, but because it's not Microsoft they just can't consider it "reliable".

It makes me want to rip my hair out. Then glue it on their faces as silly mustaches. Point is it makes me have crazy thoughts.

Re:It's tougher than you think... (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#33899798)

because it's not Microsoft they just can't consider it "reliable".

Tell them Open Office comes from Oracle.

Re:It's tougher than you think... (2, Insightful)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about 4 years ago | (#33899830)

Mod parent insightful. I never actually considered this "benefit" of the Sun buyout. ^_^

Re:It's tougher than you think... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899922)

Tell them Open Office comes from Oracle.

You say that like it's a good thing.

Re:It's tougher than you think... (3, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33899968)

Everyone knows that oracle makes software that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars...
so it has to be good, right?

Re:It's tougher than you think... (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about 4 years ago | (#33900218)

Sure, just as politicians get a lot of money because they always know what they're doing.

Re:It's tougher than you think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900246)

My point was more like "tell the PeopleSoft customers how lucky they are!".

Re:It's tougher than you think... (1)

Applekid (993327) | about 4 years ago | (#33899814)

Our company is even worse than that - we have shown them the cost savings of switching from Microsoft Office (Standard) to Open Office, demo'd the interoperability and the ease of switching, but because it's not Microsoft they just can't consider it "reliable".

Consider sneaking into the executive offices after hours and replacing the Microsoft Office adverts inside their copy of CIO with ones for Open Office. :)

Re:It's tougher than you think... (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 4 years ago | (#33900220)

... demo'd the interoperability and the ease of switching, but because it's not Microsoft they just can't consider it "reliable".

They're right. Or do you expect OO to instantly inter-operate properly with docs created by the next version of MS Office?

Re:It's tougher than you think... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899858)

One of the bigger issues in convincing them to adopt FOSS is fear of the GPL. Regardless of misinformation, a lot of people in business fear the GPL because of its stipulations that any released modifications be GPL licensed as well.

Re:It's tougher than you think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899906)

Only to the person who you are releasing it to, for internal software this should not be a problem.

Re:It's tougher than you think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899940)

As opposed to stealing the source of MS Office, modifying it, and then re-selling it?
You're probably thinking of the CMS and not office suites, but still...

Re:It's tougher than you think... (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | about 4 years ago | (#33900020)

Windows is ingrained in business culture here, for the most part.

Windows is like the faint smell of piss in a subway: it's there, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Re:It's tougher than you think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900118)

Common misconception. Unix admins are not godlike immortal figures that are guaranteed to be spectacular.

There are amazing Windows Admins/Architects/Engineers
There are also amazing Unix Admins/Architects/Engineers

There are also absolutely useless people in both.

Windows admins are more common as people get shoved into MCSA/E courses with the promises of easy jobs and fountains of money.

In my experience any shop that relies on a single admin to run the place will inevitably end up in a situation where everything is setup how the ADMIN likes it, which may be great (good admin) or really really really bad (Bad admin).

Cost (2, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | about 4 years ago | (#33899534)

Free. Thats really all that is required here, but then I work for a bunch of cheapskates who won't be around much longer.

Re:Cost (2, Funny)

Jimmy King (828214) | about 4 years ago | (#33899660)

Hey, I'm waving at you over the cubicle wall right now. How's it going over there?

Re:Cost (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33899794)

A good manager would want to know more than just the upfront costs. But then, when is the last time anyone worked for one of those?

Re:Cost (4, Insightful)

Anonymusing (1450747) | about 4 years ago | (#33899824)

Plone is only "free" in software. In my experience with open source CMSs -- Plone, Typo3, Drupal, Joomla -- you get best results by paying an expert to program and set it up initially to your specs. It looks better, runs smoother, etc.

I'm not that expert, by the way. I've just worked on projects that lacked an expert, and projects that had one, and the difference in result was night and day. The expertly-configured sites ran much better.

Re:Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900096)

Being able to keep your system up-to-date without maintenance fees is a BIG plus.

And I don't know about Confluence, but quite a lot of proprietary software is a nightmare because of licensing. The following are real-life examples I have come across one time or another.
  - A: "To use feature X you have to buy license for module Y".
  - B: Your USB key breaks, your system halts.
  - C: You want to virtualize, your license code is not valid anymore (or you change network card, or change virtualization platform, or...)
  - D: Even paying maintenance, they might change licensing at will; "Sorry, the unlimited license you had for version X is equivalent to Y {CPUs|Users|Concurrent Processes|whatever} limit on version X++"
  - E:tc, etc...

Confluence did not impress me (4, Informative)

grahamwest (30174) | about 4 years ago | (#33899540)

I've used TWiki (OSS, all Perl IIRC and aimed at corporate usage) at one job and Confluence at another but not Plone. Confluence is good for non-technical people because it has a pretty good wysiwig editor, but its search was simply wretched. I think we had a lot of 'lost' knowledge in the Confluence DB because nobody knew it was there and the obvious searches didn't show it - I would come across nuggets now and then. If you have the discipline to build index pages, it's probably a good choice if you have a lot of non-engineer type people.

TWiki (and this was a number of years ago so it may have improved) was almost the reverse. Good search, good architecture for plugins, but no wysiwyg so non-technical contributors had trouble with it. They were writing a wysiwyg plugin so that may have now arrived. It was easy to maintain and of the two I would say I like it better.

Re:Confluence did not impress me (1)

cowmix (10566) | about 4 years ago | (#33899586)

I *love* FLOSS software but Confluence is the best overall Wiki, period..

OTOH, the comment above about the search being screwed up is, unfortunately, mostly true.. ATLASSIAN, FIX THIS!

Re:Confluence did not impress me (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899876)

My group evaluated about a half dozen wiki products. We ultimately went with Confluence for a few reasons:
  • Fine grained ACL rather than locked/unlocked
  • Good editor that doesn't rely on IE (one requirement was that it works in Linux, which is why we didn't go with the corporate sharepoint)
  • Supports LDAP including groups
  • You can edit in Word (or Excel?) on the wiki if you have a plugin
  • Product suite integration with Jira

Yes the search sucks. You can use tagging to sort out things to some extent but good organization is key.
One "benefit" is that it can import from several other wiki solutions including Mediawiki which was our old solution. While the importer works, formatting is trashed so you pretty much have to have someone go and clean up after it.

Re:Confluence did not impress me (2, Informative)

plebeian (910665) | about 4 years ago | (#33900012)

WYSIWIG is not reason enough to go with confluence. If you want to do any fancy formating/Custom CSS it is a bear to work with. I recently transitioned the internal webserver for my agency (~400 users) to a Sharepoint services site because maintaining Confluence on Windows was such a pain. Every patch basically required building a new instance, updating all the plugins, and then copying all of our customizations over to the new instance. I am sure it is easier on a Linux platform but if you are looking to run it on a MS Test the upgrade process before you make a decision. I have not built a site in Plone yet, so I cannot comment on it.

Re:Confluence did not impress me (1)

fusiongyro (55524) | about 4 years ago | (#33900028)

We use TWiki here and it does come with a visual editor which the non-technical types can use.

Re:Confluence did not impress me (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 4 years ago | (#33900242)

I recently deployed a FOSWiki setup for our group. It is considerably more refined than the TWiki version I messed with several years ago.

Stallman's answer (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 4 years ago | (#33899550)

I once asked Richard Stallman how to convince my school to go with FOSS instead of Windows, since most of our CS lab was on Windows.

His reply: "Defenestration! Throw Windows out of the computer, or throw the computer out the window!"

Re:Stallman's answer (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33899606)

Oddly enough, that was the exact same thing my last girlfriend said to me before she left.

Re:Stallman's answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899662)

mine too. Weeiiiirrddd

Re:Stallman's answer (1)

maxume (22995) | about 4 years ago | (#33899950)

Did she have a manly voice and eat her toenails in public?

Re:Stallman's answer (0, Troll)

drsmack1 (698392) | about 4 years ago | (#33899978)

Stallman is the Michael Savage of software. He seems reasonable until you hear him speak or read his writings.

Both are unhinged advocates for changes that will NEVER happen without first finding a genie.

Re:Stallman's answer (3, Insightful)

kwabbles (259554) | about 4 years ago | (#33900126)

> Both are unhinged advocates for changes that will NEVER happen without first finding a genie.

Stallman's changes are already happening and as far as I know he has no access to a genie. If he had a genie he'd share it.

Liferay (4, Informative)

Tepar (87925) | about 4 years ago | (#33899552)

Might I suggest Liferay ( Open source, but also commercial, and more featureful than both Plone and Confluence.

Re:Liferay (1)

psyclone (187154) | about 4 years ago | (#33899720)

Isn't Liferay a "portlet" system? It has a rich feature set, but it's also complicated. If all they need is a wiki, I wouldn't recommend Liferay.

Re:Liferay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899948)

seconded - pretty solid product, decent interface..

Re:Liferay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900156)

I am currently working on deploying a Liferay 6 install at my work place. Great advantages for a company intranet site and collaboration.

Find the best tool for the job (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899558)

I haven't used either of the CMSes mentioned, but my experience with Open Sores tells me that the best remedy is a bit of soap and alcohol.

Seriously, though if you have to ask slashdot what the best CMS is you are totally fucked. You should already know the answer and God help you if you push the Open Sores CMS for ideological reasons.

I can't wait to see the look on your face when you finally figure out you made the wrong decision.

Wrong order (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33899600)

You've obviously decided which piece of software you want to recommend even though the only reason you can think of to recommend it is that it is FOSS? If the open software isn't as good it just isn't as good; just because it's FOSS doesn't mean that it is the be all and end all to solve your problems. Compare features, stability, cost, and support; if your boss is actively against FOSS make a point to explain it's advantages (and disadvantages if you want to be fair) and leave the decision to him. After all, it's entirely possible that the closed, proprietary solution fits your situation better; basically, its dishonest to make your decision and then go digging specifically for evidence to support that decision.

Re:Wrong order (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | about 4 years ago | (#33899742)

Such a good post. I hope more people with mod points notice.

Re:Wrong order (1)

Alternate Interior (725192) | about 4 years ago | (#33899842)

Exactly. The potential to expand, change, etc open source doesn't mean diddly until it actually happens or you decide you're actually going to.

Re:Wrong order (1)

Anonymusing (1450747) | about 4 years ago | (#33899892)

Mod parent up.

I'd even go so far as to suggest FOSS is the wrong solution for many people -- not because it's FOSS, but because its feature list does not sufficiently meet the project requirements. Some years back, an organization I worked for did a kind of CMS duel between a few FOSS packages and a few commercial packages. One of the commercial packages (Cascade) came out far, far ahead in terms of meeting all the "needs" and "wants" on our project checklist. No FOSS package came close. A local developer proposed to develop custom extensions for the FOSS project so that it would meet our need, but the cost seemed silly, and the idea of supporting customized code long-term seemed silly too. (especially since that FOSS project was expected to have a major leap in version in the following year)

Re:Wrong order (1)

thepike (1781582) | about 4 years ago | (#33899932)

But if the two are essentially the same as far as features are concerned, most bosses will default to the commercial version and will need to be convinced that the open software is just as good an option. That could be the case here; either would do the job so why not go with FOSS?

Re:Wrong order (2, Insightful)

port23user (216744) | about 4 years ago | (#33899956)

This is right on the mark. As an employee, you're ethically obligated to help the company make the best decision for the company. It's not your place to decide to promote open source for the sake of open source.

This doesn't mean that open source is bad. You (and your manager) should objectively identify the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.

Re:Wrong order (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899996)

You've obviously decided which piece of software you want to recommend even though the only reason you can think of to recommend it is that it is FOSS? If the open software isn't as good it just isn't as good; just because it's FOSS doesn't mean that it is the be all and end all to solve your problems. Compare features, stability, cost, and support; if your boss is actively against FOSS make a point to explain it's advantages (and disadvantages if you want to be fair) and leave the decision to him. After all, it's entirely possible that the closed, proprietary solution fits your situation better; basically, its dishonest to make your decision and then go digging specifically for evidence to support that decision.

OMG noooo all softwarez must be GNU/softwre! Proprietary software is sin.

Re:Wrong order (4, Insightful)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | about 4 years ago | (#33900054)

Exactly. You don't convince them. The software should convince them. Go through the pros and cons of each (features, cost, support, interoperability, scalability) and let them decide.

After that, IF the OSS product is superior and they're scared of the OSS boogieman enough to go with an inferior product after you've clearly outlined everything, you probably aren't going to be able to change their mind.

Re:Wrong order (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | about 4 years ago | (#33900060)

Also, if one convinces one's boss to go with a FOSS solution and it fails, guess where the blame will fall.

Re:Wrong order (3, Insightful)

kiwimate (458274) | about 4 years ago | (#33900102)

Hear hear!

For those with experience in each, what argument could be made in favor of Plone to managers interested in pragmatism rather than idealism?

If the questioner doesn't actually already have some compelling arguments in favor of this particular solution, then he is making his choice based on idealism instead of pragmatism.

Do an honest evaluation based on criteria that are important to your organization (including upfront cost, ongoing support, etc) and see what wins. Use a scoring spreadsheet or a decision making tool. You may decide that "open source vs. closed source" counts for 5% of your overall evaluation grade. Adherence to functional requirements may count for another 30%. NFR a further 15%. Whatever. That will produce your compelling arguments in favor of the better tool, and in an open, honest, and transparent manner.

Re:Wrong order (2, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 4 years ago | (#33900196)

You've obviously decided which piece of software you want to recommend even though the only reason you can think of to recommend it is that it is FOSS?

Keep in mind that the blade cuts in both directions. There's this tenancy to paint any FOSS advocate as a zealot and the Proprietary side as "best tool for the job" pragmatists. However, there is zealotry to be found in the proprietary world as well to include strong biases and ignorance towards OSS products. You touched on this with noting "if your boss is actively against FOSS" but I think the point is worth stressing.

Re:Wrong order (1)

aeoo (568706) | about 4 years ago | (#33900248)

To be fair, closed source has all the disadvantages and no advantages over FOSS.

A good choice (2, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 years ago | (#33899628)

Protection against lock-in is something employers understand the value of.

Re:A good choice (3, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | about 4 years ago | (#33899848)

No they don't. We use a proprietary, closed source "ticket management system" for lack of a better word. This thing is horrid; it has no recordkeeping, no search to speak of, no customization.... I could go on. We also have no direct access to the database; all we can get is a CD of what are essentially static pages of a particular issue.

It's also pretty close to being abandoned. No new licenses are sold and no new features are being added; the whole thing is in maintenance mode.

They jumped the subcription about 6 fold last year. I argued strenuously for something like RT, even worked out the cost of adding our needed features - 1/10 of the cost of the annual subscription of the proprietary product.

No dice. Not windows based, not supported by a major vendor, not approved by MS.

They're back to evaluating other, closed source, proprietary, locked in systems. So basically some people never learn.

I washed my hands of the whole deal when I was told "That's not how we do enterprise" as a response to my suggestion to use FOSS.

Re:A good choice (2, Insightful)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 4 years ago | (#33900114)

After working for a decade in tech support, the best "ticket management system" (aka CRM) I've seen is Clarify. Closed source, but leagues better than anything else closed, OSS, or other(and I've used Goldmine, SalesLogix, and others). There is nothing wrong with closed source if it's just better.

No they dont. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899870)

Tell that to all the managers who choose to buy MS Office just for word and excel in this day&age, or who insist on windows for terminals that do nothing more then browse the web with firefox to get to a single web application.

Not so simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899992)

Lock in can be caused by a software writer no-longer being interested or able to support or extend the product. Yes it can be because the company decided it should die. But, in the OSS world, the practical equivalent for a complex piece of software is for the original developer(s) to quit the project and no one pick it up. Is your company going to fund the time for you to learn to maintain the product? What will happen when you leave?

I once won a lawsuit based on the complainant claiming they could maintain the complex code as well as the original writers of the software. I said of course that fixing was theoretically possible but could they do it as effectively, delivering the fix in as short a time and as reliably? Yes your honor, the answer is somewhere in your law library, now go find it and figure how how it all works together. The original developer or one who has studied it just has all that how it all works and where to start looking in his head (or her head, or their collective heads).

Complex stuff is complex and part of the selection process should be an assessment of the financial stability of the provider and their reputation for support or (for OSS) the number of contributors who are fully knowledgeable and thus are protection against the hero developer getting hit by a car tomorrow.

Not to mention documentation, training resources availability, migration support to move you from where you are and even to migrate you off the product you are now planning to use. Its all that heavy duty life cycle stuff some products have and some don't and won't.

Think in terms of how this investment is going to pay off and how it will increase productivity and reduce risk. When you argue that way and provide a features comparison as an afterthought you can successfully advocate a solution to a business problem, until then you come off as a geek who doesn't understand the business problem they are trying to solve ... which is to produce more profit.

Re:A good choice (1)

gorzek (647352) | about 4 years ago | (#33900256)

What are you talking about? Companies love lock-in. They like knowing there is a phone number they can call and always get support. They like buying software from a company that's been around 30 years, so that when they are still using the same version of the same crappy program 15 years from now, they can be pretty sure help for their hilariously obsolete software is just a phone call or email away.

Granted, they eventually feel the pain of being on an ancient system that they have no way to migrate away from, but support is still a huge factor. Right or wrong, open source communities in general don't seem to have a lot of interest in supporting really old versions of anything. In a corporate setting, it is not always possible to follow the advice, "do an upgrade." Enterprise software is often supported for many years even if you don't upgrade. You might have to pay a premium for that support but the point is that you can make a phone call and get help because you are paying for it. Ah, the wonder of support/maintenance contracts.

"But wait!" you say, "If it's open source, you can fix problems yourself! You can even maintain your piddly-ass ancient version of the program!" Very true. However not all (probably not even most) organizations are equipped to do this. What if you're not a development shop or you have too few developers to spare any of them to maintain some old program no one understands the inner workings of? The source code is basically useless to you unless you have the time, manpower, and available skills to modify it. And there may or may not be anyone to contact for support.

Your average midsize-to-large corporation considers "vendor lock-in" a security blanket. They want support. They want a contractually-established level of service. They want a real organization they can call, not a bunch of anonymous developers on the Internet who may or may not feel like answering posts to their mailing list.

I love free/open source software, but let's not have illusions about why many companies don't want to use it for anything critical. There is a lot of fear and apprehension involved. A lot of it isn't rational but that doesn't mean there are no valid criticisms of FOSS as a model for supporting software. I don't argue that you can't develop great software in an open source fashion, but support can be very hit-or-miss, and good companies devote whole teams of people to providing world-class support for their applications--phone, email, even on-site assistance. How many FOSS groups can say the same?

Count the minutes till the collapse (2, Insightful)

stimpleton (732392) | about 4 years ago | (#33899634)

I speak only from my works own dynamics - If opensource software was to appear on work machines(lets say an open office variant) it would last as long as one of our managers receiving a docx from some outside manager with fancy things(annotations, drawings) and the ensuing discussions as they work out they are not looking at the same thing. The manifestation for me it the manager would turn up at my desk with his "look of death" and the question would begin "Can you tell me why...." Been there, done that. The whole thing falls like a deck of cards.

Re:Count the minutes till the collapse (3, Informative)

seebs (15766) | about 4 years ago | (#33899716)

That would be a totally coherent or relevant comment in an alternate universe where the question had to do with a replacement for MS Word. Please tell us how you get to that universe, so we can loot their alternate technology to improve our own.

In short, "let's say an open office variant" is a pure non-sequitur, because "competition for MS Word" is a field where compatibility is widely imagined to be important. (Note: I've had a lot of trouble with compatibility between MS Word and MS Word -- in fact, more than I've had between MS Word and OpenOffice.) We're talking about a tool for internal use, at which point, all that matters is its compatibility with itself -- it's not something that other people send you stuff for. And, even if it were, the chances that the commercial one is an effective monopoly aren't high.

MS Word is really a very special case, and no example based on it is likely to be relevant to other cases.

FWIW, we use Foswiki at work these days, I think, and we're pretty happy with it. Search is sorta frustrating, though -- it really does need someone keeping it maintained.

MoinMoin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899642)

FLOSS weekly 137 (5, Informative)

keith_nt4 (612247) | about 4 years ago | (#33899670)

I haven't used either system but the podcast FLOSS weekly recently did a whole episode [] about PLONE that may help you decide if it is right you.

Confluence (2, Interesting)

C_Kode (102755) | about 4 years ago | (#33899674)

Confluence integrates with Jira. I like and can't argue against it.

I've never used Plone, but as the old cliché goes, best tool for the job.

Re:Confluence (4, Informative)

Zero1za (325740) | about 4 years ago | (#33899802)

Also, strictly speaking, Confluence IS open source, it's just not FOSS. You get access to the source code with your license, and as long as you keep your license up to date, you can download the source for the latest version at any time. If at some point you decide not to pay for support, their license allows you to keep working with what you have, binary or source. I think Atlassian as a company have taken a very enlightened approach to this issue, and I have no qualms in paying for their excellent software. Most of the issues I would have with closed source proprietary solutions are not an issue. You are free to tinker, just not redistribute, and they give you the insurance policy, in source code, that you can keep going should there ever be an issue with them as a company.

Don't use PLONE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899676)

Our experience with it (large internal reference system at a major consumer product business) has been terrible.

Don't worry about FOSS versus proprietary (at least as a sole arbiter)...worry about finding a good system and all other things being equal, choose the FOSS one...but whatever you do don't choose plone.

Prototype it in Plone - inertia will keep it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899678)

One cool thing about F/OSS is you can simply install a working version - get it up and running.

In most companies, from that point momentum alone will keep it.

That's why we're using Postgresql/postgis instead of Oracle/ArcSDE.
That's why we're using Lucene/Solr instead of FAST and the other ones we were supposed to evaluate.

Just tell management that you're setting it up as a proof-of-concept; and that the various commercial vendors are welcome to install theirs as well; and you'll stick with whichever works best.

Plone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33899768)

Speaking as someone who has worked with Plone, I recommend you don't use it.

Confluence is Open Source (5, Informative)

MeanMF (631837) | about 4 years ago | (#33899774)

Atlassian makes the source for all of their products available to anybody who buys a license. It doesn't cost anything extra, and even the $10 starter licenses come with full source.

Re:Confluence is Open Source (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900016)

And what's the license to this so-called Open Source product?

I think you're looking at this backwards (3, Insightful)

apdyck (1010443) | about 4 years ago | (#33899778)

Perhaps the question you should be asking is, cost aside, which would better suit your needs? Sure FOSS is great but if there is a better fit for your needs and someone else is going to foot the bill, who are you to say that management is looking in the wrong direction? I, for one, believe that there is a place for both commercial and FOSS in the business (and in the home for that matter). Perhaps a cost-benefit analysis needs to be done. Ultimately the decision needs to suit the needs of the business and not the ideals of the employees.

do you want a CMS, or a wiki? (4, Informative)

WhiteDragon (4556) | about 4 years ago | (#33899780)

Plone is a CMS, Confluence is a wiki. Incedentally, both products are quite good. I used Confluence at a previous job and it is a very nice wiki. We used it because of it's tight integration with Jira, an issue tracking system by the same software vendor.

Idealism vs Pragmatism? (1)

Bicx (1042846) | about 4 years ago | (#33899790)

So are you saying you would rather have your boss make the idealistic decision? When it comes to business software, pragmatism reigns. It's the responsible thing to do.

Re:Idealism vs Pragmatism? (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | about 4 years ago | (#33900058)

I'd agree with that. You should make the recommendation based on which piece of software is better suited to the task. The consensus of other posters seems to be that that isn't Plone. More generally, given two identical feature sets from a commercial and an open-source application, the argument of which to use in a business setting still shouldn't fall to idealism. You'd have to look at support and frequency of updates. An open-source project with a large community may well be suitable but a smaller project might not be.

Need more information (1)

funkman (13736) | about 4 years ago | (#33899836)

The requirements sound like you need knowledge management system. Not a content management system.

Of course that being said (without knowing the requirements), why wouldn't a wiki work? There are lots of wiki solutions available.

Feature Comparison (1)

PineHall (206441) | about 4 years ago | (#33899856)

If you compare features, Plone easily wins [] .

cms or wiki (1)

crowne (1375197) | about 4 years ago | (#33899866)

AFAIK Confluence is open source but not free, I recall Atlassian providing source code with their enterprise licences. I'm completely unfamiliar with Plone, but I've investigated a fair number of Wiki's and CMS's. From what I learned a while ago when looking into this, there is a distinction between a wiki and CMS, with CMS being a bit more complex. One of the basic CMS requirements was workflow publishing, i.e. content is changed but not made available for public consumption until the necessary parties had reviewed and authorised it. I was very impressed with XWiki [] and Alfresco []

FSF has a great page of testimonies (3, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about 4 years ago | (#33899894)

This gets much less attention than it deserves: []

Testimonies from Cern, NYSE, the EU, Wikipedia, and the US Department of Defense, plus another page of testimonies from individuals: []

Re:FSF has a great page of testimonies (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | about 4 years ago | (#33900142)

This is not what one would need to convince a good manager. One needs a few good case studies. Testimonials are only good if they are from a business that is almost exactly the same as the business for which one works.

Other FOSS Options (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about 4 years ago | (#33899898)

I know this isn't one of your stated options, but ModX 2.0 is worth a look. It's so well optimized for SEO that we cloned our site in it as a test, switched it on, and within a week its organic search ranking was just under the original that we pay $40K/mo. in paid search to promote.

K.I.S.S of death (2, Interesting)

drsmack1 (698392) | about 4 years ago | (#33899936)

Keep it simple stupid - there is the old saying that no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft.

What never gets added is that people have gotten fired for going above and beyond to advocate for FOSS and then got fired when there was a show-stopping problem (which can happen no matter what new scheme you bring in).

FOSS has it's time and place, but *you* sticking your neck out trying to jam in FOSS into an environment that is not culturally ready for it is just asking for being the center of a CYA shitstorm.

I'm guessing that a bunch of people on slashdot have been severely stung from drinking the kool-aid. It hurts the company, the boob that was a advocate instead of a advisor, and most of all it hurts FOSS.

Don't push, FOSS will get there on it's own schedule.

Re:K.I.S.S of death (1)

bstory (89087) | about 4 years ago | (#33900026)

Funny it used to be that no one ever got fired for buying IBM.

Re:K.I.S.S of death (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | about 4 years ago | (#33900074)

My stockbroker got fired for buying IBM.

Re:K.I.S.S of death (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900192)

That's too bad, considering IBM stock is at an all-time high

First, drop the bias (4, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 4 years ago | (#33899960)

If you want to make a solid business case, you need to approach it objectively; what option will cost the least, in the short, medium and long term?

Maybe it's OSS, maybe it's not. But drop your bias right now before you research associated costs.

Confluence (1)

fishbowl (7759) | about 4 years ago | (#33899976)

I'm a huge open source advocate, but Confluence (and JIRA!) are very hard to beat. If my employer was buying either Confluence or Jira, I wouldn't fight over this *at all.*

There is no sure-fire way (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33899984)

I have been all up and down that road. Cost isn't the only consideration. Accountability isn't the only consideration. Perception is often the most important consideration. Think of the difference between an H2 and a really nice pickup truck. If you think an H2 is a Humvee, you would be wrong! The construction of an H2 is a lot like a pickup truck. But the perception that the H2 is a civilian Humvee remains. So, people kept buying those stupid, over-priced pickup trucks thinking they were something they were not.

People also think that commercial software comes with "accountability behind it." Well, that depends on your contract with the vendor and if anyone has read an EULA, they will tell you that they make no guarantees about suitability or applicability or reliability. They take no responsibility for data loss or any loss at all resulting from the use of their products... it goes on and on and on... you buy it, you get to use it, but if anything bad happens, they will be happy to send you a copy of the EULA with yellow highlighter indicating the relevant disclaimers. But somehow, business people have it in their heads that "they have someone to sue if things go bad." (All that said, some sate laws do enable accountability despite the EULA... "void where prohobited.")

And as far as cost goes? "ROI" doesn't calculate so well when the I = 0. It confuses people. If you want F/OSS in your company, get a vendor to sell it to you as a support contract.

Errr.... (2, Insightful)

kaffiene (38781) | about 4 years ago | (#33900000)

Actually, I'd go with Confluence. It's not OSS, but it's and awesome Wiki. Choose what's the best tool for the job, not what suits your religion.

Wrong question (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 4 years ago | (#33900022)

It's baffling that the question is posed that way so often. For a rational businessperson, the question is really:

What argument could be made in favor of paying for a software package when one of equal or greater value can be had for free?"

Confluence is better (2, Interesting)

abigor (540274) | about 4 years ago | (#33900038)

1. Written in Java, which means you're more likely to have on-site language expertise in case something goes seriously awry (you get the source when you buy a license).

2. Lots of support available, as it's the most popular enterprise wiki system.

3. Integrates with SharePoint, which for many places is a must-have.

Basically, Atlassian focuses on the enterprise market, and it shows. Best tool for the job, etc.

Plone CAN be very good (1)

div_2n (525075) | about 4 years ago | (#33900062)

I've used Plone as a CMS in a company before and here's what I can tell you.

Plone security works great especially if you fine tune it. For example, you are definitely going to want to think about going in and tweaking what happens when documents move to different publishing states. I tweaked the "Publish External" to have the same privileges as internal publishing because for us, there was no such thing as external publishing since it was an internet facing company intranet and client extranet.

You will also want to proxy your access behind Apache if this is going to be internet facing.

Plone has a great ability to version files. Unless, of course, they are large files. IIRC, anything greater than 32MB causes versioning to fail. I know you can get around this by using external storage (external to the PloneDB) and I think they made it easier with version 4 that was just released, but I haven't tried Plone 4.

Plone is written in python, so if you want to build your own plugins, you are going to have to learn it. The built-in DB is like nothing I've ever seen and is not relational in any meaningful way that I saw, so if you ever have any ideas of doing something relational with it (i.e. a trouble ticketing system), you are going to have to use an external database for your plugin.

WebDAV works great in Plone. Versioning with it does not. Pick either versioning or WebDAV access for a folder.

Oh and unless things have changed, you cannot (AFAIK) do file level restores from backups. It is an all or nothing affair. You CAN restore to a test environment and then export an individual object to import on your live instance. For most issues of accidental deletion, you can recover from the management back-end though.

Like any solution, you will have lots of customization in front of you if what comes out of the box isn't sufficient for your needs. Depending on how dirty you want to get your hands with it, the learning curve can be gentle or very very steep.

use drupal - even the govt uses it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900064)

Drupal has a huge userbase, and it is used by everyone ( is even run on drupal). (and a bunch of other websites) use it. It has a low learning curve, it has a lot of modules to add functionality, it has a company behind it (Acquia) - so support isn't an issue, and there are plenty of people who know it.

Oh ya, and it is also free.

Speaking as a former developer for a major closed source CMS, I can tell you that open source is the way to go.

Don't push personal agendas on the company dime (1)

Americano (920576) | about 4 years ago | (#33900066)

Here's how you SHOULD be approaching it:
1) Gather requirements from your key stakeholders - the people who will use it daily, the people who will administer the systems, and the people who will write the checks to fund the effort. (users, admins, managers) - define the use cases the tool needs to support.
2) Survey the available solutions and generate a list of the top solutions that appear to satisfy your requirements - this is your list of tools to investigate.
3) If you have time, do a hands-on proof of concept with each, or at least try to get some time poking around the live system, perhaps with a vendor demo.
4) Evaluate the PoC's against your list of requirements, and also pay attention to usability, maintainability, support costs, licensing costs, reliability, and fault tolerance concerns.
5) Compare how each one fares across all categories, and decide which gives you better value for your dollar - in other words, which is the better investment for your company.
6) Purchase a copy of that tool, and implement a pilot. Try to get the vendor to provide you with additional support during your pilot phase, or at least free licenses until the system goes live.
7) Work out the bugs in the pilot, then roll it out across your company.

If Plone can't stand on its own merits against Confluence, then you are sacrificing your own professional credibility and the best interests of your company and users to push an ideological agenda, and you will (rightfully) earn the derision and scorn of the people you are supposed to be supporting. If Plone is a solid piece of software - I'm not suggesting it isn't, I'm just not familiar with it - then it will probably emerge the winner in an evaluation.

And to all the people saying "just tell them it's free," since when is the cost of licensing a major component of the overall cost of supporting the software over its lifetime? The "free" system might be less stable and require a lot more (or higher-cost) support personnel to keep it running, and you need to take that into account if you're going to ask your company to invest a lot of money, time and effort into rolling out a new business system like this.

Having someone to call is very important (1)

chrislusf (900701) | about 4 years ago | (#33900100)

Having someone to call is very important. It means responsibility. FOSS sounds good, especially some popular stable projects. But do they fix bugs following your pace? Do they add features when you ask? Do they test everything before release or they let you test it? I personally work for a proprietary software company. I would suggest your company go with the proprietary software. Because you have someone to call where bugs happen! Well, bugs happen, and you will need to upgrade in the long run. Does your boss call you to work on it? If so, fine. If not, or you don't want to, go with proprietary.

There's always trade offs (1)

immakiku (777365) | about 4 years ago | (#33900108)

The choice is never straight-forward. From a business perspective, it is often easier to go with a commercial solution rather than a stand-alone FOSS product for the same reason people rather invest in a hedge-fund rather some random high-yield bet: risk. If something breaks, there's someone else responsible for fixing it in a timely manner. It's also the reason Red Hat is able to make a business off free software.

The main things you want to look at when considering your options include: feature set (is one option missing features), support (does the commercial company have a good record for supporting their feature? does the FOSS solution come with some kind of paid support service?), and reliability of the software itself.

Sometimes you have to NOT fight the fight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900116)

I used to spend the effort showing how several open source packages made things easier or solved problems. No more.

It's not just the problem if management thinks a product is inherently better if it's made by Microsoft, the problem is that no matter how small the change is, no matter how 99% of it works better, there's always one little thing that an executive with a chip on their shoulder can magnify, and proclaim to everyone is evidence that the "open source" product isn't better. No matter if this person is technically incapable of making such a decision, you get a C-level employee making noise and no one wants to argue with them, not even the other C-levels.

As a result, Firefox was discontinued, OpenOffice is in the process of being discontinued, and I don't even bother anymore. I'm happy they don't gripe about my use of Fedora Core on low-end fileservers and we're still a RHEL shop for our host systems (the bigger systems).

Sometimes you have to let them poke themselves in the eye a few times before they get it and are receptive. So I make sure they remember what a PIA "upgrading" users to Office 2007 has been, and how Office 2010 won't work with our Exchange 2000 Enterprise server, and how IE 8 doesn't let them open some business critical sites but IE 6 does (and yesterday when ordering a .NET product from a Microsoft gold partner their navigation bars wouldn't work in IE 8 but worked fine in Firefox). Save all these for the next discussion, and throw them in their face a bit. You have to bide your time when you see stupidity.

Anon for obvious reasons

Project Open (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900134)

Have a look at Project Open [] instead. It is a modular open source system that includes the mentioned components and more.

And the "support" from paid software can be bad... (1)

mykos (1627575) | about 4 years ago | (#33900144)

I've been trying to get my employer to switch from expensive Adobe Robohelp for years to some open source wiki software. We spend six figures on licensing every couple of years.

Their response is "well there's no guarantee that the software will continue to be updated."

For what Robohelp costs, we could keep an IT person on full-time who could customize the software to our needs and make adjustments or add features in realtime.

The problem with bigger companies is the same problem as objects with a lot of takes a lot more energy to change their direction than to change the direction of a smaller one.

Just Try It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33900166)

You have two candidates and can install and test both with your particular use cases in mind in a matter of hours.

Liferay is better than both of those anyways.

Keep your arguments simple and focused (1)

Qubit (100461) | about 4 years ago | (#33900212)

If you think you can appeal to the guy on the basis of FOSS vs. proprietary software, then do it.

If you think there's a money angle (on initial cost, or on continued maintenance costs), then make it.

If there are things that Plone offers that Confluence does not, make a bullet list of those items.

If you're going to be the one maintaining this thing, spend a Saturday setting an install up in a VM so you can tell your boss all about how you already know how to use this tool. Human costs are often much greater than software costs, so if he thinks that the two offer roughly similar feature sets, your prior knowledge of the tool may tip the scales.

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