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University Web Developers

My School is in the process of selecting a CMS have narrowed it down to 4 separate ECMS.  We have chosen Omni Update, Cascade Server, Plone and dotCMS.  I have read all of the features and seen the doteduguru site's reviews but I would like opinions from people who use them and more importantly issues they have had with them.  I know all of the positives of these CMS's but I would like to know the negatives, or things you expected but did not receive.  Every CMS must have a fault in it somewhere.  Some of these feature's lists are to similar...which is why I'm asking for negative "features".  Any help would be greatly appreciated, anything from implementation from the system setup to the average user issues.

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If anyone would feel more comfortable emailing me off line please feel free to. My email is Any information would be greatly appreciated, pro's and cons.
I feel like this question is asked and answered every week. If you do a search you should find a ton of posts. In fact I think it is Michael Fienen who has an in-depth article comparing CMS solutions on his website.
I have actually read all of the posts about CMS's on this site and on doteduguru however not many of them list issues that they have had with the systems, or features they wished their system had. Plus on doteduguru that is one person's experience. I feel that they best way to truly evaluate a system is to try to gain more than one's opinion/experiences.
Taking what you have learned from the other posts then, download the demos and run them on a demo server for a couple months. Spend some time each day just playing with them.
I honestly don't have a couple of months. The higher ups in my school will not give us that time to do that. This is why I would like to see what other people have ran into. Trust me if I had time I would do exactly what you said, in fact I would prefer to. But even setting it up on my own, will not tell me how a system with 300 sites in it would run. Through some research (I believe on this site) I have found out that Cascade stores everything in a DB and I would need to make sure I have plenty of resources to account for that. I would not be able to get real world sizes of DB's if I were to just set something up for a couple of months. With just testing I would not necessarily come across issues that people have ran across with years of use.

I have no problem doing the work and demoing products on my own, unfortunately our uppers have not afforded us that type of time. We have to call the vendors and have them show us. I can guarantee you a vendor is not going to tell me issues they have had or others have had with their product.

I have had a couple of people email me about CMS's and I greatly appreciate it. Thank you for anyone who is willing to post or email me something helpful.
Actually, the articles on .eduGuru don't come just from me (I don't have nearly that much time on my hands, heh). If you look over the CMS posts recently, the user cases were all done by folks at the respective schools, and I tried to make sure that each one included at least some discussion about what wasn't being done particularly well in the CMS (of course, that reads out differently in each article).

I think a big part of this question comes down to individual environments, because different deployments will reveal different issues. As universities, we tend to have very large, and extremely broad demands from systems, and in the end, we are guaranteed to push a limit somewhere. My advice would be to define where you are already having issues. For instance, if you want closer portal integration, and you know that currently your portal doesn't play real nice with other systems, don't get a CMS that reinforces that wall. Look for something that can introduce possible solutions now or in the future. Get a system that gives you a framework where if something built in isn't quite good enough, you can work around it. That's why I personally like dotCMS so much.

I would say that you should immediately cut your list to two: OmniUpdate or dotCMS. You will ultimately not go wrong with either, and between the two, they pretty much cover the range in terms of paid or free models, hosted vs. internal, etc.
Thank you for your input. I kind of actually have narrowed it down to those two but our committee wants to look at more. I like the potential flexibility of dotCMS but I really like the support of OmniUpdate. We are looking to put all of our universities sites in the CMS so we need something that is pretty robust and offers 2.0 functionality as well for the marketing folks.
You hit the nail on the head. The OmniUpdate folks are top notch to work with. dotCMS is a great, flexible product. The trick is figuring out where the best value is *for you*.

We are currently hosting something like 8 domains and 30,000 pages in our instance of dotCMS. It's tied into our alumni database, and athletics live stats. We're working on some portal integration using XML.

Don't let higher ed politics scare you away from doing things the right way though. Too often, I think, we use that excuse when really what we should be doing is helping people understand why it is important to do things the right way. In fact, I think because of our size and complexities, that makes it all the MORE important to do our due diligence and make sure we don't cut corners.
Another question...would you not suggest cascade because of it being a resource hog, or have you heard about other issues? I have seen the survey results and the fact that 3 out of 11 people would not use it again is kind of telling to me.
Tell your higher ups that they can push and moan all they want but if they do not let you do the proper due diligence they will likely end up with something they don't like. Show them that the money they loose trying to fix whatever they pushed in too quickly could have been saved by spending a little time and not much more money before hand
I completely agree with you, however it is much easier said then done when you have the politics involved. Ask anyone of an institution of our size (over 20,000 students, 2,000 staff and 7 campuses in 6 cities) that politics plays a big role and gets in the way of the best practices to do things.
Just a note: I've started using a mantra I picked of up from somewhere on Twitterverse:

"When people blame politics, it's because they don't understand the issues involved."

Believe it or not, people generally have what they think are good reasons for pushing misguided and potentially disastrous agendas. It's your job to figure out the big picture, and do the best you can within the box you're given. Yeah, sometimes people are in a selfish power play, and they're just sick sick sick.

But who knows, maybe there's a true do or die funding situation that requires it to be chosen quickly.

Or, if you ask the right questions, you might find out that someone is trying to be urgent because they've wanted this for so long, and will do anything to get it pushed through. That person could be your greatest ally in doing it right the first time.

Take time to walk around and talk one on one.

Meetings are a waste of time.
ASAP is poison.



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