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AUGUST 30, 2010

Compass Guide to WCM, Q3 2010

Evaluation of Sitecore

By: Tony White

Ars Logica Position Notes & Resources Vendor Overview Vendor History & Key Recent Developments Profile of the Ideal Customer Key Product Strengths Key Product Limitations Vendor / Product Report Cards Report Card Evaluation Criteria - Business Users Report Card Evaluation Criteria - Technologists 3 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 12

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Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

By: Tony White Date: August 30, 2010


Sitecore is without question the marketing-leading .NET-centric, enterprisescale CMS platform. The product boasts some of the most robust online marketing capabilities on the market today, and the user interface generates the markets highest ease-of-use ratings from non-technical business users. Relative to its most direct competition, Sitecores pricing is a bargain, with an excellent functionality-to-price ratio. The companys dramatic growth rate over the past three years demonstrates the markets recognition of the products strengths and its appreciation of Sitecores pricing.


Compass Guide Vendor Questionnaire Some company and product information contained in this report was collected via Ars Logicas 172-item Vendor Questionnaire. Vendor responses were always independently verified through customer interviews, implementation monitoring, Ars Logicas comprehensive knowledge base, and hands-on product testing. Hands-On Product Testing Ars Logica conducted hands-on product testing in April 2009 at Sitecores U.S. headquarters in Mill Valley, California. Subsequent product updates supplement these results. Customer Interviews Ars Logica interviewed users of every product covered in the Compass Guide, including Sitecore. Implementation Monitoring Since the 1990s, Ars Logica founder Tony White has kept close tabs on ongoing WCM implementations. Some of this knowledge is represented in the Compass Guide reports. No Vendor Influence Ars Logica retains complete editorial control over the Compass Guides and receives no funding in their production.

Compass Guide to Web Content Management Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

Sitecore Vendor Overview

Sitecore is a midsize, market-leading, Copenhagen and Bay Area, California, based CMS vendor. The company was founded in Denmark in 1999 and it released Sitecore 1.0 in 2001 after two years of growth as a CMS professional services firm. The vendor currently markets its CMS platform to midsize to large enterprises with .NET technical infrastructures and requirements that include online marketing campaign management, demonstrated ease-of-use for non-technical users, and a strategic focus on engaging website visitors. Sitecores recent growth rate has been among the highest in the market, and the vendor has done a surprisingly good job of maintaining strong partner relations and high customer satisfaction ratings (which usually suffer with such rapid growth).

Company Profile
Year Founded: 1999 Headquarters: Copenhagen; North American headquarters in Mill Valley, California Employees (or FTE equivalents): 200 Geographies: Global Revenue: $35 million (est.) Product Types Offered: WCM Commercial or Open Source: Commercial Strategic Implementation Partners: Accenture, iCrossing, Razorfish, Molecular, Ogilvy SDL Tridion, Day Software Retail, Publishing Top Competitors: Interwoven (Autonomy), Key Vertical Industries: Education, Government

Product Profile
Product Name: Sitecore CMS Version: 6.2 Next version release date: July 2010 Market segment: Enterprise Average Sales Price (License Only): $105,000 Technology Platform: .NET Key Strengths: Ease of Use, Flexible Architec ture, Online Marketing Capabilities Lacks the last bit of high scalability prise deployment at midsize to large organization with a .NET infrastructure, significant number of non-technical business users (marketers, e.g.), and robust online marketing requirements. Key Limitations: Strictly for .NET environments, Highest-Value Use Case: Departmental or Enter-

Copyright 2010 Ars Logica. All Rights Reserved.

Compass Guide to Web Content Management Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

Vendor History & Product Evolution

Founded in Denmark in 1999 as a professional services company, Sitecore productized in 2001 much of what it had developed for its clients in the form of CMS 1.0, its first commercially-available offering. After opening offices and doing quite well in Sweden and Germany, the company repeated the success by opening other offices throughout Europe. In 2004, Sitecore launched in the U.S., with similar results. The vendors growth stems from a number of factors, but chief among them are the its focus on a pure .NET product architecture and reliance on a network of development partners. Whereas some CMS vendors with beginnings as systems integrators continued to rely on revenue from their professional services business after launching their first software product, Sitecore immediately off-loaded as much implementation work as possible to partners, allowing the vendor itself to focus almost exclusively on product development. This phenomenon has resulted in an unheard-of 93% of the vendors current revenue coming from product licenses, a major factor behind Sitecores ability to keep its prices low relative to other similarly functional offerings in the marketplace. As with other .NET-centric technologies with a heavy reliance on Microsoft-defined standards, there is some risk that Microsoft itself may launch a product competitive with Sitecore CMS. Ars Logica believes that this risk is so near zero as to be completely negligible. Microsoft has never demonstrated serious interest in WCM, despite initiatives over the past 10 years ranging from the acquisition of NCompass Labs (2001) to the latest release of SharePoint (2010). Aside from such competitive considerations, but relevant to .NET infrastructure, no other vendor has so tightly tied itself to Microsoft technologies as Sitecore, and this includes other Microsoft-centric CMS vendors such as Ektron, Ingeniux, EPiServer, and Alterian.

Key Recent Developments

Since 2008, Sitecore has focused the bulk of its attention on the development of the marketing campaign management functionality contained in its Online Marketing Suite, Foundry, SEO, and Web Forms for Marketers modules. Early initiative in this area has positioned the vendor as a market leader in the emerging area of Web Engagement Management. For the remainder of 2010 and into 2011, Ars Logica believes that Sitecore will center its development efforts around improving scalability to support ultralarge websites and providing the technical foundation for large-scale cloud-based deployments.

Copyright 2010 Ars Logica. All Rights Reserved.

Compass Guide to Web Content Management Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

Profiling the Ideal Buyer

The ideal buyer of Sitecore CMS is normally a midsize to large company with a Web presence that underlies mission-critical marketing initiatives. The vendors traditional strengths in the retail and government sectors result primarily from the high value of the product (bang for the buck), but its recent gains in retail reflect the quality of the products online marketing capabilities. As we have said before -- but dont feel we can say too often -- this product is only for companies with engrained Microsoft application development standards. Java, open source, and PHP shops should move along. For companies with heterogeneous technical infrastructure (and therefore no real loyalties to any one development standard), Sitecores .NET foundation benefits from a plentiful, and therefore relatively inexpensive, pool of developers in the marketplace. This may result in considerable savings over time when compared to the development and maintenance of CMS platforms based on proprietary tools and technologies. As evidence of this, 93 percent of Sitecores revenue comes from software licenses, far more than any other vendor that we know of. This would be impossible if customers were using many Sitecores professional services. Midsize to Large Company with .NET Development Environment Although nothing prevents other companies from using Sitecore, the customer who can extract the most value from the product is typically a midsize to large enterprise with a preference for .NET application development. Significant Online Marketing Requirements As a core strength, the online sales and marketing capabilities of Sitecore CMS distinguish it from many competitors. Ars Logica recently ranked Sitecore the #2 vendor in this category. Web Engagement Initiatives Managed by Non-Technical Resources Sitecore leads the industry in product usability, which makes it a favorite among non-technical users.

Sitecore Will Not Be a Good Fit, If...

Customers dedicated to Java, PHP , or any other non-.NET development environment will want to look elsewhere. Much of the products value proposition rests on the widespread availability of .NET develoeprs and their facility with configuring and customizing the Sitecore platform. It is also important for Sitecore buyers to realize that, under the hood, the product is a complex one. You will need an significant pool of .NET developers to implement and maintain the product properly. The products $105,000 average sales price leads some to underestimate its complexity. And although improvements in scalability are on the vendors short-term product roadmap, to date the platform has not demonstrated the last bit of enteprise scalability that would be required to run the largest of websites.

Copyright 2010 Ars Logica. All Rights Reserved.

Compass Guide to Web Content Management Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

Key Product Strengths

Sitecore consistently gets the highest ratings from its customers for ease-of-use. Ars Logicas product testing confirms these ratings, and we believe that Sitecores intuitive user interface provides a best-ofbreed content creation, publishing, and editing experience for non-technical users. Our socre of 9.0 on the Product Report Card is the highest score for any of the vendors covered in the Compass Guides. This achievement on the part of Sitecore should not be underestimated, as it is easier for entry-level products to achieve excellent usability, whereas enterprise products must always balance usability against complexity. We know of no better success in this arena than Sitecore. Sitecore CMS, along with four optional modules (Sales and marketing capabilities (Online Marketing Suite, Foundry, SEO, and Web Forms for Marketers) provide strong online sales and marketing capabilities. In conjunction with the products superior usability, these modules make the product a leading candidate for non-technical marketing resources. Within a .NET environment, if product usability, high user adoption rates, and online marketing campaigns are among the potential buyers top evaluation criteria, Ars Logica recommends shortlisting Sitecore (barring any unusual requirements). Technical flexibility of Sitecore CMS is very good, due in part to the products clean architecture and its consistent compliance with .NET development best practices. This standards-based approach improves long-term product viability and reduces the risks of vendor lock-in.

FiGurE 1 Sitecore 6.2, Key Product Strengths and Limitations

Below are several key product strengths and limitations that potential buyers should keep in mind when assembling vendor shortlists. KEY STRENGTHS
Industry-leading ease of use

.NET environment will not appeal to Javacentric customers High functionality-to-price ratio may cause some to underestimate the products complexity (not strictly a product limitation, but rather a potential buyers misperception). Lacks the last bit of large-enterprise scalability

Online marketing & sales capabilities

Technical flexibility of the platform .NET environment ideal for Microsoft-centric customers Excellent functionality-to-price ratio

Source of Information: Product testing (January 2010), customer interviews, Vendor Questionnaire

Copyright 2010 Ars Logica. All Rights Reserved.

Compass Guide to Web Content Management Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

Key Product Limitations

Ars Logica believes that Sitecore CMS lacks the last bit of large-enterprise scalability, as evidenced by anecdotal market feedback and the vendors own comments on enhancements to the next version of the product. That said, this will not be a problem for all but the largest of global websites. Sitecore is addressing this issue in part by laying the technical foundation with hosting partners such as Fujitsu and Rackspace to offer dynamic, unlimited cloud-based scalability. Aside from this partner approach, we believe that any remaining scalability issues for on-premise implementations will be resolved in the 7 .0 release, if not sooner (while the final version of this report was being edited, Sitecore announced the availability of 6.3. Ars Logica will publish vendor update later this quarter.). One of Sitecores key product strengths is also one of its key limitations. For all the benefits the product offers Microsoft-centric companies, it estranges Java shops, PHP enthusiasts, and open source proponents. To be fair, this is not a shortcoming of Sitecore the vendor, but rather a wisely chosen strategy that has enabled Sitecore to distinguish itself both from other CMS vendors and Microsoft itself. Given the recent evolution of SharePoint, some worry that Microsoft may become a competitor of Sitecore. Ars Logica does not believe this will be the case, as Microsoft has never been very serious (in our opinion) about WCM. And even in the unlikely case that Microsoft does become a direct competitor, Sitecore customers will bear little risk of vendor lock-in since Sitecore CMS is built on a very clean .NET architecture. Ars Logica has long been annoyed by market misperceptions of Sitecore based solely on the products price. Not only do potential customers themselves tend to underestimate the products sophistication as a result of the high functionality-to-price ratio, they also commonly rely on analyst reports that group WCM products into price-based tiers. Given the amount of inaccurate vendor and product information available to prospective WCM buyers, we certainly understand why customers sometimes group products together on this basis. But we are left to conclude that among analyst firms that do not perform product testing, their WCM reports become outdated as a result of reliance on information from customers with three-to-five year-old implementations. In this market, it is important to keep in mind that technically similar products sometimes vary in price by factors of two or three (and sometimes more). The flip side of this high functionality-to-price ratio is a caveat not to underestimate the complexity of implementing Sitecore CMS. We have seen customers conclude that since Sitecore offers more featurefunctionality than some other CMS applications at a similar price, it must be a better choice. This is not always true. Customers must take into account how long product implementation will take, what IT expertise will be required on an ongoing basis, whether added product complexity will reduce user adoption rates, and whether lower license costs will be negated by higher staffing levels over time.

Copyright 2010 Ars Logica. All Rights Reserved.

Compass Guide to Web Content Management Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

Vendor/Product Report Cards

The features, functions, and technical underpinnings of WCM products vary wildly, as do the customer requirements they are intended to satisfy. For this reason, the only reliable way to assure the best product fit for a particular client is to spend anywhere from several weeks to several months assessing the clients specific needs and analyzing product capabilities line by line. Still, Ars Logica is frequently asked to rate products in categories such as those in Figures 2 and 3. In using these ratings, please take care not to compare products in different market segments (see the Product Profile section of Page 4). For example, a Scalability score of 9 for an Enterprise product does not equate to the same score for an Entry Level product.

FiGurE 2 Sitecore CMS Report Card for the Business User

Figure 2 shows Ars Logicas rating of Sitecore 6.2 in four categories of critical importance to business users. Refer to Page 11 for an explanation of the evaluation criteria.

Usability 10

Marketing & Sales Tools

Multi-site, Multi-channel, Multi-lingual

Market Presence, Product Viability





Source of Information: Product testing (January 2010), customer interviews, Vendor Questionnaire Copyright 2010 Ars Logica. All Rights Reserved. 

Compass Guide to Web Content Management Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

FiGurE 3 Sitecore CMS Report Card for Technologists

Figure 3 shows Ars Logicas rating of Sitecore 6.2 in four categories of critical importance to technologists. Refer to Page 12 for an explanation of the evaluation criteria.

Scalability 10


Development Tools

Ease of Administration





Source of Information: Product testing (January 2010), customer interviews, Vendor Questionnaire





Copyright 2010 Ars Logica. All Rights Reserved.

Compass Guide to Web Content Management Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

Report Card Evaluation Criteria

In the process of analyzing WCM solutions, Ars Logica has established a set of evaluation criteria, which at the highest level can be separated into four categories for non-technical business users and four categories for technologists. Scores in these categories represent averages of a large number of detailed criteria, and are meant to be used as a means of quickly comparing products within the same market segment -- not as a substitute for painstaking requirements and product matching.

Criteria for Business Users

Usability Usability refers to the relative ease of learning and using a WCM application. For non-technical business users, factors contributing to high scores in this category include intuitive and consistent user interfaces, streamlined task completion (i.e. minimal number of steps to complete a task), integration with the desktop, contextual editing capabilities, and documented high user adoption rates among a vendors customers. Marketing & Sales Tools Increasingly, enterprises are relying on marketing and sales tools within WCM applications to improve sales conversion rates, increase average transaction amounts, draw customers back to their Web sites, analyze online behavioral patterns, and so on. This category rates the presence and quality of such tools. Multi-Site, Multi-Channel, Multi-Lingual Capabilities This category assesses a products ability to support multiple sites; deliver content to multiple channels on multiple devices; and create, store, present, disseminate, and/or translate content into multiple languages. Scores in this category represent an average of a products capabilities in all three of these broad functional areas. Market Presence, Product Viability The Market Presence, Product Viability category rates both a vendors overall market presence relative to competitors and its dedication to the continued development of its WCM products. If these two factors are not aligned with each other, an explanation of why will be included.

Copyright 2010 Ars Logica. All Rights Reserved.


Compass Guide to Web Content Management Sitecore CMS 6.2 Product Evaluation

Criteria for Technologists

Scalability Scalability refers to the ability of a product to function well as system demands increase. Factors contributing to scalability are database size, query efficiency, bandwidth consumption, ease of system management, caching efficiency, load balancing, and mass content deployment capabilities. Flexibility Flexibility denotes a products ability to integrate easily with existing enterprise infrastructure, including operating systems, Web servers, databases, directories, development tools, and other enterprise applications such as ERP , CRM, document management systems, search, portals, and so forth. Development Tools This category describes the quality of a products integrated development environment (IDE), the technologies that the IDE incorporates, and overall ease of customized application development. Although this category refers primarily to development frameworks (Eclipse, e.g.), other ad hoc tools are also included, such as page templates, HTML/XML editors, WYSIWYG editors, PDF generators, and any other software that enables or eases the production, formatting and dissemination of content. Ease of Administration Some WCM products require significantly more work to administer (sometimes 5-10 times more) than others. This category rates the relative resource intensity required to keep the system running smoothly, where higher scores reflect less work. Roughly speaking, higher scores also indicate better coordination of application components due to more methodical system design.


Copyright 2010 Ars Logica. All Rights Reserved.

Advisory Services Ars Logica is a vendor-neutral analyst firm helping companies evaluate their WCM requirements and select appropriate WCM software. To address clients content management-related questions and problems that arise throughout the year, Ars Logica offers unlimited direct analyst access through its Analyst Anytime advisory services. These annual, subscription-based services provide guidance by phone or email within 24 hours on a wide range of issues. The number of inquiries submitted throughout the year is not limited.

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Software and Technology Selection In our Software and Technology Selection engagements, Ars Logica maps clients functional, technological, and strategic requirements to potential WCM solutions and identifies the software vendors whose products best satisfy these requirements. We maintain a continuously updated comprehensive matrix of the feature-functionality of most WCM vendors products and solutions. We also receive frequent briefings from these vendors and have in-depth conversations and consulting engagements with their customers, ensuring that we always understand the actual state of vendors offerings as well as their forward-looking strategic directions.

Custom Engagements Ars Logicas expertise in WCM and related technologies such as digital asset management, records management, marketing campaign management, search, and portals, gives us the open-ended ability to help clients on a wide range of projects, including: building the internal business cases, assessing technology requirements, analyzing software products and vendors, selecting and assembling software solutions, crafting Web strategies, and running corporate educational seminars. We also assist vendors in developing strategic roadmaps, and we and present our view of the WCM market at industry conferences and end-user events.