Monday, June 15, 2009

Community Server 2009: Final Thoughts on Role, Pricing and Adoption

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently in conversation with the helpful folks at Telligent on the current state of Community Server (CS); admittedly, it’s been a few years since I last looked at the platform and much has changed since. In this post we look at: where CS fits in the grand scheme, CPU-based licensing and the platform’s adoption.

CS as WCM?

Not quite, when you consider:

  • CS was born out of blogging, forum, and gallery software and is a natural union of these tools - it has no WCM roots;
  • CS Publisher gives it primitive WCM-esque capabilities;

What constitutes traditional WCM? At a minimum: flexible content-types, templates, versioning, workflow, content-sharing/content-query facilities. I would also add a criterion for “Rich Templating,” measuring the ability to minimize reliance on physical (ASPX/ASCX) layouts and maximize reliance on configurable CMS components that are injected at runtime into physical layouts to render a particular request. (SiteCore excels here whereas MOSS is more limited along the lines of traditional ASP.NET with its Master Page, Page Layout and Page Instance facilities.) In short, “Rich Templating” measures the variety and diversity of renderings that can be produced from a physical “base.”

Community Server Licensing (updated June, 2009):

Annual (CPU-based)

One Time (CPU-based)

Product Code

Features

5K

12K

Professional-10

10 Blogs, 10 Forums, 10 Media Galleries, 5 Groups and unlimited WIKIS

10K

20.4K

Professional-25

25 Blogs, 25 Forums, 25 Media Galleries, 10 Groups and unlimited WIKIS

15K

30K

Professional-50

50 Blogs, 50 Forums, 50 Media Galleries, 15 Groups and unlimited WIKIS

30K

72K

Enterprise

UNLIMITED Blogs, Forums, Media Galleries, Groups and WIKIS along with the ENT Mail Gateway, ENT RSS Feed Syndication & Job Server

All annual licenses include updates/upgrades and technical support, for the year. The perpetual (one-time) licensing includes first-year support and maintenance; on-going support and maintenance is priced at the standard 20% per annum. Their à-la-cart pricing offers much needed flexibility in fine-tuning the licensing to match your immediate needs, relieving customers of the burden of having to pay for features that will remain dormant for the foreseeable future. Promotional pricing is occasionally available as well; for instance, a 4-CPU enterprise license was offered at a one-time price of 216K (a 25% discount) if purchased before the end of June (‘09).

CPU-based licensing (…Software Licensing Gets Complicated):

1 physical CPU 1 core = 1 CPU license

1 physical CPU 2 core = 1 CPU license

1 physical CPU 4 core = 2 CPU license

CPU-based licensing can impose a significant penalty on high-volume sites. For instance, deploying the Enterprise edition on a 6-server farm that I’ve previously worked on (5 dual-core duo servers and 1 quad-core duo) would cost 72x2x5+72x4 = $1,008,000 + ~200K/year. In this vein, it’s worth highlighting that hardware can be configured to keep a CPU dormant for licensing purposes, until such time that volume necessitates it [3].

Release Schedules:

  • Typically only 2 Service packs per version;
  • One major release and one minor release ~6 months;
  • Weekly bug fixes

Adoption

Unfortunately, some of the exciting references here are covered under NDA, but suffice it to say that adoption is *the* key driver of CS’s continued success; Telligent counts some impressive names as loyal, happy customers. CS positions itself not as a build/buy decision, but as a hybrid; a platform designed to be extended by internal teams and worldwide-partners alike; a layer in your solution stack to address social community features. And, not surprisingly, this niche that they’ve carved out for themselves is curiously absent in both SiteCore and SharePoint. Whether convergence along these lines ultimately sees CS absorbed into an established .NET-based WCM leader or whether the leaders evolve their own social layer remains to be seen; my bet’s on the former.

Partners

FourRoads, perhaps the premier partner in Telligent’s network, provides a number of add-ons to the platform: CS Publisher for WCM; Commerce for E-Commerce; and Nexus, a connector for FaceBook.

Team

Interesting background on Lawrence Liu and Marc Smith [1]:

“On numerous occasions during my time at Microsoft as both the Community Lead and Social Computing Technical Product Manager for SharePoint, I relied on Marc's expertise in refining and validating my ideas and concepts around social media and online communities. Although many people have come to know me as a "community guru," I would gladly admit that it is Marc, who was the "man behind the curtain" and provided me with the sociological research and hard data that backed up much of my hypotheses for why humans have an innate sense of sharing and belonging and how technographic personas such as Asker, Answerer, and Connector can be derived and quantified from specific types of social interactions and metrics. I look forward to working closely with Marc in the coming months to better align and more tightly integrate social analytics into Telligent's overall platform strategy.”

[1] – CPU-based Licensing: http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid80_gci1249814,00.html http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/highlights/multicore.mspx

[2] – Four Roads Product Catalogue: http://www.4-roads.com/shops/products/default.aspx

[3] – Disabling a CPUs:

/NUMPROC specifies the number of CPUs that can be used on a multiprocessor system. Example: /NUMPROC=2 on a four-way system will prevent Windows from using two of the four processors.

http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=windows+numproc+boot.ini&meta= http://forum.onmac.net/showthread.php?t=989

[4] - Telligent announces release of social analytics tool and hiring of Chief Social Scientist http://communityzenmaster.com/blogs/lliu/archive/2008/11/11/telligent-announces-release-of-social-analytics-tool-and-hiring-of-chief-social-scientist.aspx

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