Is Mediawiki an Enterprise Wiki?

If you want an excellent description of what is entailed in making Mediawiki into an enterprise wiki, David Strom reports useful, practical information for anyone evaluating enterprise wikis. Harvard Business School professor Andrew McAfee’s orignial blog on Avenue A/Razorfish’s wiki was an interesting case study, but it didn’t reveal these important points that Dave Strom surfaced:

  1. Razorfish has one full-time intern and two part-time developers that maintain their code.
  2. Razorfish put in place some code that pulls information from their Active Directory servers (that) enables single sign-on.
  3. Security matters a lot.
  4. Part of the custom code they wrote was to enable search across all wiki and blog content.

It strikes me that if Razorfish invested all this effort and money, then the question needs to be asked: Is Mediawiki an enterprise wiki? Certainly not out of the box.

One full-time intern and two part-time developers is at least $50-100K for one year! Probably the latter number. Mediawiki in this instance became an enterprise wiki but only after considerable work.

Although this case study exemplifies how companies can fulfill the promise of open source, this is not fulfilling the promise of Enterprise 2.0 software which should be: lightweight software suitable for enterprises for dramatically less money.

This case study points out about as well as I can imagine the difference between the open source option for wikis and the commercially sold enterprise wiki such as Socialtext, Brainkeeper, or our Atlassian Confluence.

15 responses to “Is Mediawiki an Enterprise Wiki?

  1. Jeffrey,

    Other than agreeing with the content, my hats off to you for referring to your competitors with more class than some of them refer to you 🙂

  2. Hehe, great point Zoli. Isn’t Atlassian like some “new ” wiki company. Ross told me so, and Ross is -the man- because he told me that too. LOL

  3. Hi, Jeff. I’m one of the developers who worked on the AvenueA | Razorfish wiki.
    Your point about customization is well taken (although your cost figure is too high), but my own experiences with enterprise software have led me to somewhat different conclusions. Over many years I have built many corporate intranets and Internet sites, and I have used all of the top third-party CMS systems and web/app/portal server applications. The fact is that all of the tools I’ve ever used required extensive customization. Mediawiki was actually easier, and faster, to customize. In addition, my non-open-source clients paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in licensing fees alone for those third-party applications.

  4. As a reformed consultant :-), I appreciate your experience on customisation, and from what I can tell from Andrew’s case study, you guys did an excellent job. One reason I am a reformed consultant, however, is that if you build it into a product, you ultimately have much more value and lower TCO. I wanted to avoid referencing our wiki but if you don’t mind me saying this: Confluence has active directory integration, deep search including attachments, security features, as well as other features Mediwiki does not come with. Now given I would expect you gusy to be really good at UI stuff, Confluence is less strong in this area, and likely someone with your bent and expertise would want to customise our theme and nav. Which by the way, we love third parties to do. Point well taken. Thanks.

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