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A Fair Review of the Top Mid-Market CMS for 2020 — Liferay

Gary Eisenstein

By Gary Eisenstein

September 9, 2020

liferay-vector-logo.png
Corporate Name: Liferay, Inc. Web: www.liferay.com
Founded: 2004 Get in Touch: 1-877-LIFERAY (1-877-543-3729)
Corporate Office: Diamond Bar, CA Worldwide Locations: 24
CEO: Bryan Cheung — Since 2004 Worldwide Employees: 1000
Platform Type: Java Current Version: Liferay DXP 7.2
Licensing Model: Enterprise Subscriptions Licensing Cost: Open-Source Vendor — No Charge for Licenses
Support: Enterprise Service Level Agreement GitHub Account: www.github.com/liferay
Trial (Sandbox) Version: Free Trial Online Demo: By Request
North American Service Partners: 40 Global Service Partners: 315 in 40 Countries

Liferay is an open-source company which offers its customers the ability to create digital experiences on the web, mobile, and connected devices. Liferay's open-source solutions focus on delivering excellent user experiences, rapid development capabilities, impressive scalability, and proven reliability.

HISTORY

Liferay traces its origins back to the early 2000s when Liferay Founder and Chief Architect, Brian Chan, was looking for a platform on which to build a website for his church but found existing options were either too expensive or lacked functionality. Frustrated by these limitations, Brian developed what would eventually become Liferay Portal and released it as open-source software. The following years saw an explosion of interest in Liferay Portal, and, in 2004, Liferay, Inc. was founded with a handful of employees to provide services and support to organizations using the software.20200103_SpokePeople_banner-560-Liferay.jpg

"Liferay has been fortunate to have enjoyed consistent organic growth since our founding, allowing us to expand to 24 offices worldwide and nearly 1,000 talented employees without having raised any outside funding. This allows us to focus on long-term customer value rather than shareholder relations," said Ed Chung, VP of Product Management at Liferay.

He added, "Our product portfolio has also expanded considerably with the transition from Liferay Portal Enterprise Edition to Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP) in 2016 (the open-source project is still called Liferay Portal Community Edition), the release of Liferay Analytics Cloud, Liferay Commerce, and Liferay DXP Cloud in 2018. Thousands of the world’s leading organizations now depend on our software, including Bosch, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Santander Bank, and VMware."

KEY CAPABILITIES

Drag-and-drop page fragments and templates make it easy to build sites and pages in Liferay DXP that match corporate branding and style guidelines without IT intervention. Analytics capabilities help content authors segment audiences for different experiences and understand how their content is performing.


The needs of business users to easily build engaging digital experiences without relying on IT is something I’m cognizant of as a marketer and is well-addressed in Liferay DXP," said Paul Brutoco, Senior Manager, Portfolio Marketing at Liferay.

Key features and functionalities include:

  • Decoupled CMS
  • Analytics
  • Drag-and-drop Page Fragments
  • Predefined Themes
  • Content Differences  
  • Version Reversion
  • Enterprise Search
  • Auto-Tagging
  • SEO
  • Drag-and-drop Widgets
 

ECOMMERCE CAPABILITIES

Liferay Commerce is an experience-led digital commerce offering purpose-built to handle the complexity of B2B buying scenarios.

Christine Reyes, Product Marketing Manager, states “Liferay Commerce is a full suite of commerce capabilities that are tailored for the B2B experience. It delivers all the capabilities merchants need to manage accounts, enrich product information, define price lists and customer groups, and integrate with third-party systems.

Pre-built integrations include:

  • Site & Content Management
  • Catalog Management
  • Catalog & Product Browsing
  • Checkout
  • Pricing & Discounts
  • Order Management
  • Self Service
  • Support for Global Sites
  • Payments & Tax Management
  • Elasticsearch Integration
 

DIGITAL EXPERIENCE CAPABILITIES

Liferay DXP is designed to work within your existing business processes and technologies to build a custom solution that uniquely meets your needs.

“Liferay DXP connects with your existing systems to serve as a unified platform for creating engaging digital experiences like public websites, customer and partner portals, and intranets,” said Ed Chung.

  • Blogs
  • Forms
  • Multitenancy
  • Single Page Applications
  • Experiences
  • Segmentation
  • Content Sets
  • Responsive Design
  • Wiki
  • Knowledge Base
 

 

TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS

"Our technology partners have sought-after technology, and we rely on them to integrate deeply with our products, to better serve the requirements of our diverse customer base. We work with our technology partners to generate opportunities and drive business together. Liferay provides an environment of collaboration for our global community of technology partners – with internal teams and service provider partners - to enable innovation and delivery of highly desirable solutions."

Liferay's technology partners include:

  • Mulesoft
  • Micro Focus
  • 51Degrees
  • Ellucian
  • RedHat
  • PunchOut2Go
  • Dynatrace
  • Broadleaf Commerce
  • Nuxeo
  • mimacom
 

STRENGTHS

Liferay’s Point of View

Liferay excels at delivering authenticated experiences and those focused on long-term customer engagements. As a testmament, Liferay received the highest scores of any evaluated vendor in the 2020 Gartner Critical Capabilities for Digital Experience Platforms for both B2B and B2E use cases. Liferay DXP is well-known for its excellence in employee experience and knowledge management use cases.

Liferay DXP’s open-source codebase and robust APIs developed to the OpenAPI specification make their platform second-to-none in terms of integration and interoperability. These characteristics also help explain why Liferay is such a popular tool for developers.

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"At MuleSoft, we're very excited about our partnership with Liferay. Through this partnership, MuleSoft can enable Liferay customers to easily connect data from disparate systems and deliver relevant experiences that drive business impact. By working together, we're able to help customers accelerate digital transformation, improve NPS, and drive customer lifetime value."

"The Liferay team has a deep understanding of system integration, automation, and why they matter so much to B2B buyers and sellers. The Digital Experience Platform has  world-class back-end interoperability, and it is a pleasure to partner with Liferay on an eProcurement integration solution to further enhance those capabilities."

"Workstate is proud of a long history with Liferay, extending back nearly a decade. We happily display our Silver Partner status because we know that this platform delivers flexible, lightweight–yet–robust features that offer intuitive use across content management and social engagement systems. We’ve enjoyed great success in collaborating with their technical teams and have found their integrity, communication skills, and workflow to be best-in-class."

WEAKNESSES

Liferay’s Point of View

Liferay understands that many customers, particularly those with non-technical backgrounds, are not content to rely solely on APIs anymore. They expect vendors to provide pre-built connectors. While they do offer a connector to Salesforce CRM and will be launching a connector to SAP ERP in the near future (and Dynamics ERP), they recognize that they have more work to do in providing customers with productized connectors to popular enterprise tools.

KEY DIFFERENTIATORS

Liferay’s Point of View

Most DXP vendors (Adobe, Acquia, Sitecore, etc.) are focused on digital marketing use-cases. While it addresses those as well, Liferay is unique in its space — being more focused on complex B2B and B2B2C use-cases that involve internal and external stakeholders, including customers, partners, franchisees, employees, etc.

Liferay is especially robust when it comes to integration and interoperability. They provide automatic generation of APIs for all services, including customized services defined for each project. So, when core systems need to be exposed to other digital touchpoints, Liferay can act as the "center of gravity" and make those core systems available to Liferay sites or third-party front-ends.

Liferay's growth has been wholly organic — having never taken a dime in outside funding. Furthermore, the company has been run by the same group of founders that were at the helm in the beginning. This historic congruity has enabled Liferay to take a much longer-term vision of delivering customer value than vendors who need to appeal to the more short-term whims of public markets or private equity firms. Finally, Liferay is one of only two open-source DXP vendors (the other being Acquia).

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"We serve North American clients across verticals with a wide variety of intranet, extranet, and commerce solutions. There's only one digital experience platform that can adequately provide what's needed for this vast array of solutions — and that's Liferay. We have been working with Liferay for fifteen years, and it's not only flexible, but the ability to integrate with other systems is essential for our client's needs and their implementations.”

“Liferay has been a great partner to work with. We've successfully used their software to build innovative digital portals and e-commerce solutions for our clients, and we know that if we have any issues, Liferay is there to support us.”

TRAINING & SUPPORT

Liferay maintains a wealth of programs dedicated to ensuring quality deployments.

Liferay's global Customer Success Team offers strategic, scheduled, program-based customer support with a majority of our existing customers, covering the complete lifecycle of customer engagement, including all phases of deployment. The Liferay-created training courses, both in-person and virtual – including a recently added suite of on-demand video classes through Liferay University – cover a comprehensive suite of topics, both business and technical.

Liferay offers a free Support-based Upgrade Preparedness Program designed to assess and provide guidance to customers as they undertake product upgrades and migrations. They employ a Customer Feedback Program, sponsored by the VP of Product Management, designed to align Liferay DXP’s development with the real-world needs of its customers. This program includes at-minimum quarterly customer onsite feedback meetings, product and feature surveys, and roadmap presentations. Liferay's Customer Connect reference program has over 75 accounts that participate in customer-to-customer user groups based on a wide variety of customer-determined topics.

IMPLEMENTATION PARTNER PROCESS

Liferay’s partner program is designed to develop trusted digital transformation partners across vertical markets by providing the guidance and services partners need to build a thriving business around Liferay. Benefits of partnership include discounts on license sales, post-sale rebates based on the partner tier, joint marketing funds, co-marketing opportunities, sales support, technical training, sales enablement, and more.

Liferay has sales, marketing, and enablement personnel dedicated to partner success. Liferay believes it has two primary roles when it comes to partner success — partner enablement and business development. To drive these initiatives, they invest in joint lead development, sales support, ongoing and open communications to partners, and opportunities for partners to interact with Liferay staff and executives. Additionally, Liferay provides partners with education, training, specialization, and certification programs for technical and non-technical roles.

Liferay invests heavily in their partner program in order to have highly qualified and skilled partners to sell and implement Liferay solutions. Liferay and their clients rely heavily on the specific technical and industry expertise their partners bring to bear. Most Liferay Service Provider Partners provide complete end-to-end implementation services, including front-end, customer experience, and back-end development and integration expertise.

CUSTOMERS

Worldwide Deployments: Nearly 1500 Enterprise Subscription clients worldwide; millions of downloads of the free, open-source version of Liferay

Top Market Sectors: 

  • Government (Federal)
  • Financial Services
  • Technology
  • Healthcare 
  • Education
  • Manufacturing 
  • Insurance
  • Retail/Consumer Products
  • Government (State & Local)
  • Energy


Notable Liferay Brand-Name Customers:

  • Bosch
  • VMware
  • Santander Bank
  • Excellus BlueCross BlueShield 
  • Vodafone
  • US Navy
  • Orange
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • Desjardins
  • Spire Energy 

Customer Comments:

Timothy Schwab, Vice President, Consumer Technology, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield​
"Liferay provides the modern foundation on which we can build, maintain, and grow our multiple sites, content, and applications.”
 
Anne Anderson, Vice President, Experience and Change Management, Hewlett Packard Enterprise​
Nobody's been able to throw anything at us that we couldn't handle. Our portal supports growing, changing business needs, but it does it in a way that we don't need to re-engineer it every time. It's pretty awesome.”

William Longmene Kue, Product Manager & Solutions Architect, Desjardins
Liferay has allowed our employees to access an optimized digital workspace. As soon as they log into their workspace, they can manage their entire client-member reference and associated product portfolio in real-time, allowing for a much more seamless and optimized experience and customer-centric focus.

 Customer comments and testimonials are all third-party verified

Featured Case Study

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FUTURE ROADMAP

Applied AI: Liferay’s vision is to leverage AI as an “intelligence layer” throughout its offerings. Rather than try and reinvent the wheel by developing its own models, they seek to leverage best-of-breed models from vendors like Amazon, Google, and IBM and apply them to solutions such as public websites, partner and customer portals, intranets, and digital commerce storefronts. The goal is to allow Liferay customers to leverage AI in an OOTB fashion with little need for internal development.

Knowledge Management: As a platform that excels at both native content management and integrations with external data sources, Liferay DXP is strategically positioned to provide intelligent knowledge management capabilities. This is particularly true for authenticated experiences like intranets and customer portals. Their first step is to leverage ML-powered techniques like learning to rank to improve findability in search. Future plans include leveraging natural language processing in the areas of text classification, content gaps, and duplicate detection from unstructured data stored in both Liferay DXP and third-party sources.

Packaged Solutions: Customers and the open-source community have historically valued Liferay for its flexibility and extensibility, allowing them to build a multitude of solutions using a single multi-tenant platform. While many organizations still value this flexibility, Liferay has found that there’s an increasing need among customers for packaged solutions requiring a minimum of configuration and customization. As such, Liferay is increasingly moving towards offering customers packaged solutions for a variety of use cases. This process recently started with the launch of their insurance accelerator for agent and customer portals, which is already being used by customers.

PERFORMANCE GUIDE

CMS-Connected's performance guide is based on our interviews with the vendor, their implementation and technical partners, customers, and leading industry analysts.

Category Scoring: 5 = Excellent | 4 = Very Good | 3 = Good | 2 = Satisfactory | 1 = Unsatisfactory

Overall Performance Scoring: 57–70 = Excellent | 43–56 = Very Good | 29–42 = Good | 15–28 = Satisfactory | 1–14 = Unsatisfactory

Performance Category Scoring
Strong North American Footprint with a Global Presence 4
Leadership and Positive Industry Recognition 4
Wide Selection of Features and Functionalities 4
Well-defined Differentiators 3
Offers Headless and/or Decoupled Architectures 3
eCommerce Offering 3
Cloud Capabilities 3
Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Offerings 4
Ability to Integrate with Pairing Technologies 3
Stable Platform with an Active Number of Deployments 4
Strong Customer References 4
Presales and Post-sales Support 4
Trained, Certified, and Experienced Implementation Partners 3
Clear and Well-defined Future Roadmap 3
Overall Performance Score — Very Good 49

ANNUAL HOSTED EVENTS

Liferay's upcoming events include their North American Symposium, their Partner Summit 2020 Virtual Live Event and B2B Online Chicago 2020. For a comprehensive list of all Liferay events visit their website here.

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Gary Eisenstein

Gary Eisenstein

Gary has been working in the IT industry for over 26-years and is a Principal Analyst at CMS-Connected Media Corp. and is the Founder and CEO of Falcon-Software Company. If you would like to receive additional advice or consultation on how to evolve your digital transformation journey, Gary can be reached at gary.eisenstein@cmscmedia.com.