Interview with DotNetNuke Corp. CEO Navin Nagiah

DotNetNuke has become one of the most popular and formidable open source .NET contenders in the CMS market today and we recently had an opportunity to discuss a bit more about this company and their products with Navin Nagiah, CEO of the DotNetNuke Corporation.

CC: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be with DotNetNuke?

NN: I am an Electrical Engineer by education. I have been an entrepreneurial executive for the last 16 years. I have been involved in three technology startups prior to DotNetNuke Corp.  Of the three, one had a good exit, one not so good, and the third, the jury is still out.  This is my fourth technology startup, and by far the one with the most potential.

Prior to DotNetNuke, I was the CEO of an open source ECM Systems Integrator, where we did custom implementations of Plone, Alfresco and Liferay.  I was introduced to DotNetNuke by Larry Augustin. I really liked the founders of DotNetNuke, especially their passion and desire to ensure DotNetNuke left a strong imprint in the software industry.  In addition, the market opportunity was huge. I made the move to DotNetNuke, helped raise our Series A funding, and have been delighted with our progress since.

CC: Is this the first CMS project you've been involved in?

NN: This is the first CMS project in which I have been directly involved.  However, in my previous company, as a leading open source ECM system integrator, I watched the Plone, Alfresco and Liferay communities at close quarters.

CC: What was it about the DotNetNuke project that drove you to accept the position as CEO?

NN: The key factors for me were the passion of the founders to ensure DotNetNuke left a strong imprint in the software industry; the thriving community that is DotNetNuke; the massive adoption of the software; and, the size of the addressable market.

CC: What other activities does DotNetNuke Corporation partake in? Is there any involvement with other projects outside of the CMS arena?

NN: The company’s sole, razor sharp focus is on ensuring the success of DotNetNuke as a product, as a project, as a community, and as a company.

CC: What is your company's primary target market and why?

NN: Our primary target market is companies that have greater than 100 employees and for whom their DotNetNuke web site is mission critical or very important to the success of their organization. We sell to a broad range of industries, with no vertical market making up more than 15% of our total sales, with key markets that include government, education, financial services, and technology. Our customers are worldwide and use DotNetNuke for public web sites, extranets, intranets, and web applications. Our customers share a common need for a feature-rich, robust, stable, easy-to-use, and extensible WCM platform to build their web sites and web applications.

CC: What advantages does your platform offer?

NN: We provide all the features that excellent WCM solutions provide today such as a content approval workflow engine, granular user permissions within an extensive security model, extreme scalability, web controls using Telerik, document management, rich taxonomy and folksonomy systems, advanced support for Google Analytics, and distributed caching with web farm support. However, what makes us different and better is essentially two things:

Extensibility – The ability to plug-in and remove add-ons to your web site or web application quickly and inexpensively.

Our Vibrant Ecosystem – A vibrant and rich ecosystem of ISVs who provide thousands of commercially supported add-ons at a low cost, hundreds of System Integrators who can help you custom build your web site whether your requirements are simple or complex, and numerous hosting providers who specialize in hosting DotNetNuke.

CC: Why should people consider using DotNetNuke for their next project?

NN: For Microsoft shops (of which 46% of companies worldwide are according to Forrester Research) which are building a web site or web application on ASP.NET, DotNetNuke provides tremendous advantages. The reasons DotNetNuke is such a great solution include:

First, the product provides a feature-rich web site straight immediately upon installation and is easy to deploy and  maintain.

Second, even if you have features that are not available out-of-the-box, your first option is to buy commercially supported features for a few hundred dollars from the more than 8,000 software add-ons available on our online marketplace, Snowcovered.com.

Third, if your requirements are so complex that your specific feature is not available online, our WCM platform is also a rich web application framework with a published API that makes it easy for you to custom-build and plug-in your own add-ons to add features.

Fourth, some of our customers report up to a 600% reduction in development time using DotNetNuke versus developing a web site directly in .NET.

CC: What specific features does DotNetNuke have that separates it from other popular open source CMS products on the market today?

NN: We are the leader in the Microsoft .NET ecosystem.  We power over five times more web sites worldwide than the next biggest .NET based WCM product.  We have the largest and most vibrant open source community in the .NET ecosystem with nearly 800,000 registered members.

The big reason for our success is we are an extensible platform with more than 8,000 commercially supported add-ons that plug into our platform.  The add-ons are available on our marketplace, Snowcovered.com, and are commercially supported by the nearly 800 ISVs who developed them.  While, there are other add-ons on other stacks with extensibility, none come close to having 8,000 commercially supported add-ons on their platform.

In addition, we make it easy to plug-in and remove add-ons, essentially giving a user the ability to switch on and switch off features or change the appearance of their web site easily.

CC: Can you provide some examples of popular sites that are powered by your product?

NN: We currently power more than 600,000 web sites worldwide. One is the Australian Football League (AFL) which gets about 2.5 million unique visitors a month. DotNetNuke also powers the web site of The Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest tower and the web site for Microsoft’s Open Source Foundation, CodePlex.

Pfizer launched Robitussin using DotNetNuke and ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy), a US Government agency funded to research and promote advanced energy technologies, uses DotNetNuke. The United Nations Public Administration Network is also built on DotNetNuke.

If your readers are interested in learning more about sites that use DotNetNuke, they can download case studies about ExactTarget, York County, Virginia, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and Green Resources by visiting the DotNetNuke case studies page. They may also be interested to see the winners of our Community Choice Awards, which include Rehab, The Silkroad Project, and Sake Social.

CC: Of the number of current installations of DotNetNuke, what percentage would you say are running on your Professional Edition?

NN: There are well over 2,000 installs of the Professional or Elite Editions of our product.  Given that this is just our second year of commercialization, our business traction has been phenomenal.

CC: What type of support offerings does DotNetNuke Corp. offer?

NN: We currently offer two versions of our product: the DotNetNuke Professional Edition, which comes with web-based support, and the DotNetNuke Elite Edition, which comes with both web-based and phone support.  More details are available at:

http://www.dotnetnuke.com/Products/EditionComparison.aspx

These Editions also have product features such as a content approval workflow engine, more granular user permissions, a document management system, a developer license for Telerik RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX, and enhanced web farm support that are not available in the open source version of our product.

CC: We often find it interesting to hear about the different ways that the term "Content Management System" is defined by the people directly involved in the CMS market, how do you define a CMS?

NN: Linguistically, it means any system that helps you manage content – creating, storing, indexing, archiving, publishing, and distributing content.  I think both ECM (Enterprise Content Management) and WCM (Web Content Management) are content management systems.

There is a distinct difference between the two today.  ECM is what is internal to an organization. It is about managing information and processes inside a company. It is about document management and records management.

WCM is about managing the publishing and distribution of information.  In one sense, WCM is about revenue and ECM is about net profit or the bottom line.  WCM is about maximizing reach, while ECM is about internal process efficiency.

However, as people use web applications and portals for managing internal information such as document repositories and Web 2.0 tools such as wikis for collaboration and content creation, it is possible the lines between the two systems will blur over time.

CC: Of the various programming platforms available, what makes .NET the best choice in your opinion?

NN: .NET is the most mature, scalable enterprise development platform available. Microsoft has made a large investment to ensure they provide a complete solution stack including a rich programming API, a highly functional IDE, a database engine, a web server, and more. On other platforms it is common to have to source components in the development stack from multiple parties, resulting in greater integration challenges and life cycle support complications. Although the .NET framework is over a decade old now, Microsoft continues to innovate and enhance it with the latest industry development techniques and practices. We are especially excited to see the introduction of the WebMatrix beta which offers a great toolkit to get Microsoft web site developers up and productive quickly.

CC: What are the future plans for the DotNetNuke project?

NN: Our objective is to ensure that DotNetNuke remains the first choice as a web content management system and web application development framework for users and developers in the .NET ecosystem.

We are investing heavily in further enhancing the richness of our platform with more advanced features so we are attractive to both end users and developers.  We are making a big push in content localization to meet the needs of our users in Europe, Asia, and all areas of the world where multi-language support is critical.  We will also be adding features that are important for running larger and more critical web sites such as content staging, SharePoint integration, and enhanced management tools.

In addition, we will be making a strong play fairly soon in the cloud, in other words, providing on demand web sites and web applications.

Finally, we continue to work with Microsoft to further simplify the ‘install and deploy process’ of our application so we can attract users and developers from outside .NET to embrace DotNetNuke and the Microsoft stack. For example, we worked closely with them on the introduction of the Web Application Installer and the Web App Gallery to ease the download and installation of DotNetNuke.

CC: What can we come to expect from the next major version? Are there any major enhancements that are being worked on?

NN: You will see the next major version in a few weeks.  The major enhancements we are working on are in the areas of Content Staging and Content Localization.

CC: How can people contribute to the project should they choose to do so?

NN: There are many ways to contribute to the DotNetNuke project, depending on an individual’s skill set and interests. At the non-technical level there is always the ability to write documentation or provide assistance in the community discussion Forums. There is also the ability to provide content and feedback through the many community services offered such as blogs, issue tracker, feature request manager, or the open source Forge. For more technical individuals, they can submit an open source extension to our Forge, they can become a team member on an existing Forge project where they can contribute source code and development assistance, or they can develop and sell their own DotNetNuke add-ons on Snowcovered.com.

CC: Thank you for your time.

If you are interested in learning more about DotNetNuke, you can do so on their website: http://www.dotnetnuke.com

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