Contextual - Intranet Shoot-out: Plone vs. SharePoint


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This presentation was given at the 2012 Plone Conference in Arnhem, The Netherlands by Ken Wasetis of Contextual Corp. (info <at> contextualcorp <dot> com.) It compares how well Plone and MS SharePoint address Intranet-specific solution requirements.

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Contextual - Intranet Shoot-out: Plone vs. SharePoint

  1. 1. Intranet Shoot-out: Plone vs. Sharepoint (The No-Kool-Aid Edition) Ken Wasetis - Contextual twitter: @ctxlken irc: ctxlken 1Saturday, October 13, 12 1
  2. 2. Common Intranet Requirements Make sharing files/content easier and web-based Secure/shared areas for departments/groups Handle large volume of MS Office/Adobe docs/files Single Sign-On (no login prompt) Support hundreds, or possibly thousands of logged-in users (Enterprise Intranet/Extranet) Departmental web forms (trigger email, store some data, integrate with some other system) Dashboard/Portal with Widgets/Portlets Have tons of content to migrate into CMS 2Saturday, October 13, 12 2
  3. 3. More Intranet Requirements Custom Workflows with Flexible Assignment (by Content Type, by Context, etc.) Strong tagging and search capabilities Reporting/Analytics: •Content Statistics (#Files, #Pages, #Images, #Edited in past 30 days) •Editor/Content Manager Activity (#Created/Modified Items in past 90 days) •Workflow/Content Quality Metrics (#Items Pending,Avg #Days in Pending, #Rejected, etc.) Integration with Desktop Tools (Word, Excel, Outlook/Email, Exchange/Calendar) Integration with other Enterprise Apps/DBs (PeopleSoft, Oracle, etc.) Must Run on Windows! Cool Web 2.0 Features Check-in/Check-out / Versioning 3Saturday, October 13, 12 3
  4. 4. Still More Intranet Requirements We Want a Wiki! Must Have Collaboration (self-organizing, annotations, discussions) Personalization (per-user; per-department; per-role) Want to Design Workflows Graphically Multilingual Capabilities Budget Miscellaneous Stuff: •Generate barcoded PDFs from form data •Weather portlet that displays weather for all locations •Communicate to support team when staff start/end day, take breaks, etc. 4Saturday, October 13, 12 4
  5. 5. CMS Tools for Intranet: Short List * MS Sharepoint * Plone Alfresco? Liferay? 5Saturday, October 13, 12 5
  6. 6. Before We Continue The following slides include comparisons by feature between the Plone CMS and MS Sharepoint. The strengths and weaknesses described for each tool are not to be taken as the final word on the subject; they are indeed opinions. You should install, prototype, and thoroughly evaluate both tools on your own to see how you believe each stacks up against the other in the requirement areas of particular import to you and your organization. Now, let’s get to the good stuff... 6Saturday, October 13, 12 6
  7. 7. Sharing Files / Group Content Sharepoint: Bread-and-butter as DMS Plone: Natural, inherent feature 7Saturday, October 13, 12 7
  8. 8. SSO / Security / Auth Sharepoint: Common to integrate with Active Directory Only recently added file-level granular permissions/sharing and very limited roles (read, contribute, design, full control) Plone: I can do that too! And then some • •Web Server Auth •SSPI Apache or IIS module •Enfold Proxy, ISAPI_Rewrite, other filter to pass X_REMOTE_USER to Zope Plone might actually have an edge here, as it supports many different authentication models, and provides MUCH more fine-grained permissions management 8Saturday, October 13, 12 8
  9. 9. Performance Sharepoint: Can handle load with SP/IIS/SQL/Windows ‘stack’ Plone: Me too, but with Apache + Plone caching (+ Varnish/Squid) Query bottlenecks apply to both CDN/Media cache headers apply to both Can scale up and out on both 9Saturday, October 13, 12 9
  10. 10. Web Forms Sharepoint: Strong Forms Capabilities; Especially Storing of Data Plone: Very Flexible Forms through PloneFormGen Comparison: Easier to persist forms data with Sharepoint Easier to trigger other events from forms in Plone (e.g., post to Salesforce or ERP) 10Saturday, October 13, 12 10
  11. 11. Collaboration/Group/Dept Spaces Sharepoint: ‘My Sites’ feature similar to KARL (self-organizing). Poor model for user-generated content, since publishing is a one-way ‘push’ from source ‘staging’ system/site to target/published site. (Old school publishing model.) Plone: Variety of approaches (shared folders, •No ‘self-organizing’ option •Requires Admin to ‘share’ a folder to group of users before sharing happens 11Saturday, October 13, 12 11
  12. 12. Dashboard/Portal Interface Sharepoint: Ships with numerous widgets to be laid-out as dashboard Plone: Ships with a few built-in portlets, with ability to insert into preset columns and on Dashboard page Comparision: Both have portal/dashboard mechanisms. •SP has had data visualization widgets for some time; •Plone is finally getting some cool ones (thanks, EEA!) 12Saturday, October 13, 12 12
  13. 13. Content Migration Sharepoint: ???? Plone: Many ways to approach migration •FTP/WebDAV import •CSV Import •ODBC Connection to source + import scripts •Transmogrifier pipeliones •Funnelweb Comparision: If migrating anything but files (office docs), Plone seems to make migrations easier. 13Saturday, October 13, 12 13
  14. 14. Workflow Sharepoint: WIth 2010, now supports workflow based on content type or context Plone: Has supported by-type and by-context (placeful) workflow for years My Little WF Pony: Sharepoint offers ability to design WF graphically from Visio (a common feature of traditional DMS tools.) This is more for designing main ‘flow’ of states/transitions. The promise of having non-techie design WF is rarely achieved, though. 14Saturday, October 13, 12 14
  15. 15. Search Sharepoint: Includes FASTSearch Plone: Built-in Search is better than most CMS tools Comparison: Both can convert/index office files Need Plone + Solr to match FASTSearch (still achievable), configurable results weightings, etc. Plone offers simple vs. advanced options; Sharepoint requires more hardware for FASTSearch. 15Saturday, October 13, 12 15
  16. 16. Tagging Sharepoint: In 2010, now offers metadata-based navigation Plone: Has supported keyword tagging/meta-navigation and collections for years. Comparison: Both tools offer custom content types, but seems easier to define in Plone. Seems like MS is still catching up in area of ‘content reuse’ and not just ‘capturing’ metadata, but ‘doing something’ with it. 16Saturday, October 13, 12 16
  17. 17. Reporting Sharepoint: Built-in reporting and hooks into ‘Enterprise’ BI for advanced. Plone: Lacks any decent reporting. Can easily plug-in web analytics tracking code for 3rd-party tools, but no existing ‘roll-up’ data on #items in WF states, content edits/mods over a period, average days pending, etc. Comparison: Sharepoint at least offers some reports, but more useful reports of ‘content quality and CM activity’ can be done in Plone, with work. 17Saturday, October 13, 12 17
  18. 18. Integration with Desktop Apps Sharepoint: Deep integration, not only to edit in Word/Excel, but Calendar/ Exchange,Visio/Workflows, Data Visualization widgets, offline editing/on-line synching Plone: External Editor offers edit/save-to-CMS from Word/Excel/OO/other. PloneDesktop offers FTP/DAV with metadata editing. New data visualization capabilities from EEA add-ons (upload new CSV, graphs are updated.) Comparison: •Both offer good integration for editing/saving docs directly to CMS. •Sharepoint gets edge for additional level of integration for calendar, data viz widgets that can point to other data sources, etc. 18Saturday, October 13, 12 18
  19. 19. Integration with Enterprise Apps/DBs Sharepoint: Some proprietary connectors ($); Ability for web services. Plone: Few connectors (Salesforce, SugarCRM), but easier to build integrations Comparison: Sharepoint offers custom integration options, but even experienced devs have issues implementing. Seems like Plone can plug-and-play with about anything, making custom connectors (PAS, web services, etc.) easier. 19Saturday, October 13, 12 19
  20. 20. Runs On Windows Sharepoint: Of course it does. Plone: Windows is actually #1 platform for evaluations. Some also deploy to Windows for production, but this limits pool of support help a bit. Comparison: Both run on Windows, though most in Plone community will avoid Win- specific support questions like the plague. STILL better than paid MS support in some cases, though. Plone on Windows is typically done on 32-bit (disadvantage). This requirement usually is proven to not be requirement (shop does actually support Linux for Oracle, Peoplesoft, Java apps, etc.) 20Saturday, October 13, 12 20
  21. 21. Personalization Sharepoint: Doesn’t provide much OOB in this regard. Plone: Role-based and Group-based portlets/dashboard; in-context permissions/UI. Comparison: Plone is ahead in this area; doesn’t really even seem to be on MS radar. 21Saturday, October 13, 12 21
  22. 22. Web 2.0 Features Sharepoint: Is usually 2-3 years behind the curve. Case in point, current version is SP 2010. Plone: Frequent, incremental releases of new improved features. Cases in point: check-in/out, versioning, discussions, portlets. Open source tools in general are the first to port trendy/cool Web 2.0 features, such as slideshows, social network integrations/sharing, etc. Comparison: Plone is ahead in this area and things aren’t likely to change. 22Saturday, October 13, 12 22
  23. 23. Multilingual Capabilities Sharepoint: CMS UI supports it. Managing i18n content not that simple Plone: CMS UI and i18n content well-supported. Comparison: Plone actually probably holds a little edge here, from our experience. 23Saturday, October 13, 12 23
  24. 24. Budget Sharepoint: Requires significantly more budget for Sharepoint, SQL Server, FASTSearch,Visual Studio IDE, etc. License fees alone could range $50K - $500K for ‘Enterprise’ version and features, if org has 1,000+ users. Plone: To enable ‘Enterprise’ features, such as AD or Solr advanced search, custom integration connectors, an ‘Enterprise’ Intranet project can take more effort than a run-of-the-mill Plone project. Comparison: Even with additional effort to enable ‘Enterprise’ features of Plone, costs are significantly lower with Plone, in our experience. Some clients have false notion that ‘Sharepoint is basically free for us’, since we already standardize on SQL, SP, etc. See cost calculator: 24Saturday, October 13, 12 24
  25. 25. Examples of Easier Integration with Plone OS-level system calls to Java app that merges data into PDF, generates barcode, returns and emails file to customer from Plone Current Weather/Forecast Portlet - integrated with Custom Terms-of-Acceptance form-signing upon viewing site. Custom ‘Breaking News’ lightbox effect alert Custom web services integration with CA ServiceDesk ticketing system All of above developed by staff with 1 year on Plone and Python, with only some consultant assistance 25Saturday, October 13, 12 25
  26. 26. Conclusions? Typical Consultant Answer: It Depends on Your Requirements Both tools are capable or even strong in most areas. Each tool is stronger in some areas than the other, so an organization should intelligently evaluate both tools, determine critical requirements, and select a tool. •There is no clear-cut better tool, based solely on feature set. •TCO should be considered, not just cost of initial implementation. What are options/costs of customizing/extending? Will we need to? •Even though Plone / open source option isn’t without any cost, it is still far more affordable. •While .Net devs are more abundant than Python devs, Sharepoint requires special integration expertise. Finding ‘expert’ consultants/employees on any sophisticated CMS can be a challenge. 26Saturday, October 13, 12 26
  27. 27. Conclusions? Sharepoint is a poor fit as a WCM; better at DMS needs Plone is more well-rounded and handles the behind-the-scenes stuff, as well as offering the latest flashy AJAX ‘creature features’ users crave. You think Plone is bloated? Ha! Take a good look at SP. Buildout gives Plone a better deployment story across servers “Still feels and behaves like a document collaboration system” -- Real Story Group 27Saturday, October 13, 12 27
  28. 28. Ken Wasetis twitter . irc . skype: ctxlken 28Saturday, October 13, 12 28