Ebay + Joomla = trend?

Ebay has announced that it has elected to use the open source Joomla! CMS (content management system) to launch a community portal as part of eBay’s internal analytics platform.

The press release continues, “Known as “community analytics,” the initiative will be accessible by eBay’s 16,400 employees, and will incorporate social aspects of active collaboration, including content creation, sharing and open discussion. Joomla CMS supports eBay’s expansion of community-oriented knowledge sharing and information discovery.”

This announcement of a large corporation electing to use Joomla! follows closely on that of Tesco’s news that it too is using Joomla! to power an employee training application. Tesco hopes that its Academy Online Joomla! application will eventually serve some 400,000 employees worldwide.

Why are two large, multi-national companies selecting Joomla! to power these staff applications? Well, reduced cost is obviously a key factor – cost of development, cost of ownership, opportunity costs, etc, are all reduced when using a widely used and tested open source platform.

Another factor is the number of “off the shelf” extensions available to the Joomla! platform. These again reduce costs and also demonstrate the potential of the platform.

A final factor may be that business is finally ‘getting’ open source. And as one big name after another chooses the platform, it makes it easier for others to do the same.

However, has the public sector ‘got’ open source yet? Sometime ago my suggestion that a county council should use Joomla! to power its intranet was laughed off by their intranet project manager, with the response that Joomla! was fine for ‘mom & pop’ websites but not for something as ‘mission critical’ as the council’s intranet. It seems Tesco & Ebay know something this individual didn’t.

Recently though, we have been involved in exploratory discussions with a British public sector organisation to provide shared services for regional staff using Joomla! as the platform. Still early days but the promise to improve on their existing situation while reducing costs has certainly got their interest. So, it may just be that circumstances are forcing open source onto the public sector agenda.

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