Updated 02/01/2013: As mentioned at the close of this post, we are constantly tweaking and pushing changes to our web site as we measure its effectiveness. The Enterprise Partners section ultimately did not meet our goals, and continued to confuse our customers as to what our focus is, so we have removed it. We look forward to the new Pro Network program and hope it addresses this goal, but without the added confusion.
One of the features of our new site is a small list of “Enterprise Partners”. Combined with starting our Pro Network program over from scratch, this has understandably led some to speculate whether EllisLab is gunning for the enterprise market.
However, in our Manifesto, we shout proudly that one of our primary purposes is:
...enabling the cottage developer to stand toe to toe with Goliath, sling armed with our stone.
If that’s true (it is), then why have Enterprise Partners on our site?
The short answer: enterprise is a thriving market that we get a lot of external pressure to be in, and we’re happy that ExpressionEngine is capable. But it’s not a space we enjoy working in, and chasing enterprise contracts is a distraction from our core purpose.
Having these partners in place means that when an enterprise request comes in, I can say, “Yep, ExpressionEngine can help you, but you need to talk to one of these companies.” Having them in place allows us to keep the laser focus we’re dedicated to as stated in our Manifesto.
What about the Platinum Support plan? This allows agencies who use our product in that space to compete on equal footing when bidding against agencies using other platforms that have service contracts. It’s a business agreement with certain guarantees, it’s risk mitigation. That’s the language those clients speak.
We’ve added the Platinum Support plan at the request of reputable agencies that have expressed the need over the last four to five years. If it turns out that they were wrong, or that it doesn’t help them, or that serving the needs of the plan cuts into our primary support work, we’ll make adjustments. But it’s still worth trying to help these agencies go where they want to take ExpressionEngine.
These are both new programs, and we will be monitoring closely whether it meets our goals of helping agencies that want to compete in the enterprise space, while simultaneously helping us stay out of it. The starting seven companies have initiated and established long working relationships with us. Les and Marcus got to know these companies closely and felt they’d be a good starting point for the program. A specific company’s absence is not an indication of being excluded from having a similar relationship with EllisLab in the future. How that criteria and selection process works will be shaped based on the initial program’s success.
Most importantly, the partners list is not the primary way that agencies and small shops will be able to demonstrate association with EllisLab and proficiency in the ExpressionEngine ecosystem. Feedback on the Pro Network has started to slow, and patterns are emerging in the center. Soon we will be inviting all who submitted suggestions to a discussion to solidify what will be best for them and what EllisLab is capable of doing to support those needs.
In a way, we are treating our web site as a private SaaS application, and are constantly tweaking and pushing changes to it. This past Sunday was our starting point, and it was important to put that stake in the ground. As it continues to evolve, we think any confusion will be absolutely dispelled as to where the product is going, who its primary audience is, and how we plan to grow and remain competitive in the increasingly crowded CMS space.