Hi. We've been a straight up Drupal shop for many years specializing in e-learning and maintaining an in house LMS/CMS hybrid built on top of Drupal. Each new project require us to set up a new Drupal site based off our custom LMS/CMS. Everything is glued together with a lot of Drupal "proprietary" tech, like a SSO implementation and site management only found in Drupal-land. Since our current infrastructure require a lot of Drupal expertise - all of our developers are often tied to maintaining and administration, which is of course not optimal for keeping developers happy in the long run.
Our new strategy then is to move most of our in house needs to off the shelf products, and focus our development efforts where we don't have off the self products that cover our needs instead. For instance Plone and Moodle could serve our requirements for a CMS and LMS. We will be running several houndred CMS sites down the road, so ease of maintaining, setting up new sites and upgrading without breaking content is critical. We also need good support for standardized SSO infrastructure, like CAS. Preferable we would like to "outsource" most administration tasks to operation or support personnel so our developers can go back to programming. The ideal CMS must fit our needs with as little customization as possible, be user friendly and not require much attention from a developer.
Could Plone fit our needs for a CMS? We also have members in our team that favor WordPress, I haven't had much experience with it and we haven't decided anything so the table is open for ideas. Thanks in advance.
Upgrades: You can upgrade Plone-Installations between versions while maintaining all your content and settings. Migrationg sites with a lot of custom code and addons can be much harder though.
Maintenance is generally low if you have a decent setup, we have sites running for years without any real maintenance (except for the occasional hotfix)
Setting up new sites: You can create as many Plone-sites in a Zope instance as you like. If you want to do that or set them up separately depends on your requirements. Mosty people usually setup new sites for each project. Setup of a new site takes only some minutes for us. If you do everything by hand and do not use any templates you can waste hours though.
Thank you. I really appreciate your input. We definitively need to do a hands on evaluation and read up to get the proper feel for the CMS. It's possible I am asking you a bit dumb and premature questions here, but.
Do you always upgrade in a dedicated staging environment before upgrading live in production, or are there exceptions for instance with minor updates?
From the business and deployment prospective: if you are serious then you don't want to deal with Joomla, Drupal or Wordpress in any way unless you have enough resources for patching your sites every other day or explaining your customers why their sites have been hacked again..and compare this to the security record of Plone.
Regarding your high-level requirements: Plone feels like a fit. You must evaluate Plone or get in touch with Plone people for nailing down your requirements. Philip mentioned already your options.
Apart from that regarding your question about best strategies for testing/staging etc: this question is independent of Plone. A testing/staging/production setup and process should be true for any application, for any setup, for any deployment.
Its security record and fewer yearly updates does goes in favor for less maintenance burden with Plone for sure. Drupal did have a couple of high vulnerabilities just recently, and hot patching in out of office hours is not a pleasure. WordPress does have automatic updating for minor versions enabled by default, but I guess you don't get past having a QA process, staging->production, for updates when maintaining many WordPress installations.