Today, Joomla -- the name is a phonetic spelling for the Swahili word "Jumla," which means "as a whole" -- is one of the most popular open source content management systems (CMS), claiming that 2.7 percent of the Web is Joomla-based sites.
If you were to drop Joomla on a straight line with other popular open source CMS projects, it would fall somewhere between WordPress and Drupal. Joomla, which is offered under the General Public License (GPL) version 2.0, is more robust than WordPress, while Drupal is usually favored by those with a developer background.
"Joomla really fits nicely between WordPress and Drupal," says Ryan Ozimek, president of Open Source Matters, a nonprofit organization that provides organization, legal and financial support to the Joomla project.
"We've built a community and have a focus on reaching out to the average user and administrators of a website, but we also give under-the-hood tools to the developers and engineers trying to do something more complex," he adds.
Joomla powers the Children's Hospital Boston social intranet, providing a "Facebook-like" social environment and handling more than 2,500 concurrent users.
Joomla jibes with small to mid-size businesses
With such a large community and abundance of products and services, the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market is where this open source CMS is a strong contender. Small businesses like having access to thousands of add-ons that make it easy to extend basic website functionality.
"We've encouraged an economy around being able to productize add-ons. A small business can install a Joomla site by following a five-step tutorial on the Web, download the add-ons in a single zip file and end up with a professional site," said Ozimek.
Ozimek said that small businesses typically use Joomla-based sites for standard brochure-like websites, to add functionality to communicate with customers using support ticketing or for ecommerce.
The SMB market is where Joomla earned its reputation, but now all eyes are on the enterprise and what Joomla can do there.
Joomla makes strides in the enterprise
This year, the enterprise is the big picture evolution for Joomla. It's still a core CMS offering but new focus gives developers tools to build any sort of Web application that goes well beyond the good old-fashioned Joomla site.
In the enterprise, open source CMS software is highly visible. Kathleen Reidy, Senior Analyst at 451 Research, said acceptance and availability of open source CMS projects has grown. Ten years ago open source CMS projects existed, but there wasn't many options for a commercial entity for an enterprise to partner with for development and support. Today, this isn't the case.
Reidy said that open source software in the enterprise does have benefits over proprietary software. "One benefit with open source is that you can download and try it on your own instead of going through a vendor-led process of RFP, proof-of-concept and demos," she explains.
For Joomla, its enterprise push is backed by support from companies like Microsoft and eBay who have significantly enabled the Joomla community to push the boundaries beyond the SMB market.