Tag Archives: cms

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.

How much?!

How much does free cost?

When discussing intranets and website proposals with clients, Microsoft’s Sharepoint 2007 (or 2010) is often cited by the client as an option. Afterall, the argument goes, they already have a licence since they bought xyz business servers some time ago. Well, yes and no. To use your Sharepoint 2010 as an intranet, you require the Client Access Licenses (CALs), which are only included in the Enterprise Agreement from Microsoft.

Often then, clients are surprised to hear that they don’t, in fact, usually have a licence to deploy Sharepoint as an internal website, let alone as a public facing website. The next question is then, ‘How much are the additional licences’?

Well, that’s a difficult question to answer, not least because the answer is dependent on a number of factors, in part upon the client’s relationship with their Microsoft reseller. Licence costs are notoriously opaque. This is not an unusual situation – ask an Oracle customer! However,  recent postings have gone some way to letting us bench mark potential costs of using Sharepoint 2010 to power a public facing website.

For a standard licence, the upfront cost is between €5,000-9,500 per server, with a 25% annual Service Assurance (SA) if you want to be able to upgrade, etc. So, for a 3 server farm, on an internal facing website (say intranet), for 1,000 users (for which you need CALs), the upfront, one-off cost would be around £66,000.

For an enterprise licence, the costs are somewhere between €20,000-32,000 per server, plus the 25% annual SA, plus the licence of the FAST search server licence (c. £14, 000). If you do want to deploy more than one server (and you do), then the costs rise accordingly. Bakker suggests that a 3 server farm, for a single public facing domain, would cost in the region of £68,000 (I’m not sure what the costs would be if you wanted to run multiple domains off your Sharepoint 2010 installation).

Suddenly, free has become very expensive! This is of course before you even begin to factor in the other costs (design, development, support, training, etc). The costs can be dramatically reduced using an Open Source solution – the software is usually licence free and the servers tend to be cheaper to purchase and service, and using cloud services can help to reduce costs further.