Welcome!

CMS Authors: Mehdi Daoudi, Rishi Bhargava, Harry Trott, Xenia von Wedel, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Agile Computing, CMS

Microservices Expo: Article

Considerations for Selecting a Content Management System

What do you really need, now and in the future

Content Management Systems (CMS) have become one of the most powerful Internet-related products. What once was a gadget for web developers and technology geeks is now a must-have tool for multiple business units. Because of the pace at which the world of Internet technology changes, and the high demand for up-to-the-minute content, there are thousands of products (commercial and open source alike) that offer myriad features to companies in need of a solution for publishing their content.

Unfortunately, over the past decade, the term "CMS" has become a buzz word, a commodity if you will. Almost everything web-related has been rolled into those three characters. Originally (loosely) defined as a web application to create, edit, store and publish online content, CMS has transformed into a much more far-reaching instrument: among the functionalities of today's CMS are e-commerce inventory management, SEO and workflow creation.

Content management systems are meant to increase productivity, either by reducing the need for involvement by the technical staff, streamlining the time it takes to publish content (articles, offers, news items, photo galleries), or by simply reducing the cost of site operations.

There are numerous "How to Choose CMS" articles out there, all written from different perspectives, starting from a designer's usability view and ending with the CFO's financial point of view. This article is not one of those! The goal here is to get you thinking about what you really need, now and in the future. We will review foundational questions you should ask as you formalize your business workflow so that you will be successful regardless of whether you choose an off-the-shelf product or build a custom system.

Atom-Splitting Questions
{You Should Ask Yourself When}
Considering a CMS

Myth: Off-the-shelf CMS products will meet your editorial and content publishing workflow right out of the box.
Truth: In almost every case, the product will have to be modified. This may also increase deployment time and costs.

Myth: You won't need technical staff to support your CMS.
Truth: Almost all businesses make modifications to their CMS over time. Modifications require maintenance. If you don't have technical staff in place, you will need support to integrate and maintain changes.

Myth: Custom systems require a longer learning curve.
Truth: Custom systems are built for your business' specific workflow. Since they often mirror existing practices, the learning curve can be kept to a minimum.

Myth: Off-the-shelf products are simpler, less cumbersome systems.
Truth: There are features and functionality embedded in these systems that will never be used. Carefully compare all the functionality you are purchasing with your business needs. A smaller, custom system may run more efficiently because it will be optimized to accomplish the specific disecting btask.

Myth: The CMS purchased will carry your business into the future.
Truth: The road map for the product you're purchasing may not follow the same road map as your business. Be sure that features your company needs (today and in the future) will be supported or created in the CMS product you are purchasing. Custom systems typically require fewer modifications when adding or creating new features than off-the-shelf systems.

Is Performance a Concern?

  • Does your site include user-generated content?
  • Do you have to make real-time updates to content on your website?
  • Is the site asset-heavy with images and other media?
  • Does your site experience traffic spikes during the weekend, or with sales promos or announcements?

Are Custom User Roles Necessary?

  • Do you accept content from contributors outside of your company?

-Users, Vendors, Freelancers, Reporters?

  • Will you have to grant temporary access to the system?
  • Will different departments be using the system?
    -Does each need a different level of access?

Do You Manage Content That Requires a Custom Data Structure?

  • Do you accept content from contributors outside of your company?
    -Users, vendors, freelancers, reporters?
  • Will you have to grant temporary access to the system?
  • Will different departments be using the system?
    -Does each need a different level of access?

Must the Solution Accommodate a Unique Workflow?

  • Will you be doing multi-channel publishing?
    -Will you publish to mobile or social networks?
  • Do you want to translate your offline business protocols to the web?
  • Do you need to implement an approval process for content?
    -Will you need a system that notifies users automatically about content review?
  • Do you have a need for incremental publishing?
    -(Scheduled content, multiple editors working on the same content)

Will Any Content Come from or Go to External Systems?

  • Will you integrate it with a CRM tool?
  • Will your system interface with product fulfillment vendors?
  • Do you use outside content providers, such as syndicated news feeds?
  • Does the system connect with e-mail campaign managers?
  • Will your system interface with payment providers?

How Flexible a System Do You Need?

  • Do business processes change often?
  • Do you launch web initiatives?
  • Do you manage multiple sites?

Scientific Research
Anatomy of Business Driven CMS

There are two primary functions that you should consider when evaluating a CMS: the "engine" and the "workflow." You should analyze the impact and importance of each when selecting a system to support your business.

The Engine
The main purpose of a CMS is to publish and serve content: publishing content is easy. Publishing and serving the right type of content consistently is a bit more challenging. All of the CMS products out there today have addressed this with varying success. Ultimately, the selection comes down to two simple questions: "will the product run in my infrastructure?" and "will the product perform well, based upon my current traffic, and scale with my business?"

Although the engine is just a tool to support your business on the web, its selection is critically important. Too often, the cart is put before the horse by comparing product features instead of evaluating the compatibility of the systems with the business needs and the architecture in place. When selecting the engine consider:

  • Scalability: Handling current and future traffic patterns
  • Integration methods: Protocols available for integration - for both user-facing applications and "the workflow"
  • Technology stack: Compatibility with the current architecture and the skill set of the staff
  • Extensibility: Integration with third-party business applications and support for business-specific data models
  • Content delivery: Support for the strategy of the business

The Workflow
The workflow however is your business. And that's where available products can fall short of the mark, no matter how much "flexibility: and "usability" is pitched. No matter how intuitive and usable the interface and the flow may be in the off-the-shelf product, chances are it will not match the flow that's intuitive for your business.

Catering to everyone means catering to no one. Every CMS, no matter how flexible it strives to be, can't cover every use case - even for a single type of business. If it was possible, there would be one, all-purpose CMS used by everyone. Non-specialized CMS try to cover the use cases that are most significant to generic business flows. "Generic" is just that - generic - a level of modification of the core product will be needed. Then you must consider, for example, issues of maintenance costs, skilled staff needs and upgrade path.

Consider the product's roadmap in choosing an off-the-shelf system. The feature set of the product is the vision of the creator(s). That vision may not include the features in the next release, either because of a change in product direction or simple lack of demand. Consider the effect on your business if a core feature, a driving force behind your business and a reason for selecting that product, is discontinued.

Lack of Subject Matter Expertise
The Internet has changed. It's no longer a medium for wiki-style information; now content is dynamic, personalized and, more important, it's not uniform. Everyone knows it. Yet, people routinely buy a "one-size-fits-all" CMS. We see this in working with clients every day - the off-the-shelf product that promised flexibility and ease-of-use ended up hampering content publishing and creating volumes of work for editors.

Recently trends have been shifting just a little with the emergence of e-commerce-specific CMS products. I envision that in the near future we'll see a surge of vertical-specific CMS products (finance, sports, travel) led by the experts in those fields. Until then, unless your business overlaps closely with the media angle of the available CMS, consider building a tool that's right for your business.

More Stories By Leon Fayer

Leon Fayer is Vice President at OmniTI, a provider of web infrastructures and applications for companies that require scalable, high performance, mission critical solutions. He possesses a proven background of both web application development and production deployment for complex systems and in his current role advises clients about critical aspects of project strategies and plans to help ensure project success. Leon can be contacted at [email protected]

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud plat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
"We provide IoT solutions. We provide the most compatible solutions for many applications. Our solutions are industry agnostic and also protocol agnostic," explained Richard Han, Head of Sales and Marketing and Engineering at Systena America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We've been engaging with a lot of customers including Panasonic, we've been involved with Cisco and now we're working with the U.S. government - the Department of Homeland Security," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are focused on SAP running in the clouds, to make this super easy because we believe in the tremendous value of those powerful worlds - SAP and the cloud," explained Frank Stienhans, CTO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseTech has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. EnterpriseTech is a professional resource for news and intelligence covering the migration of high-end technologies into the enterprise and business-IT industry, with a special focus on high-tech solutions in new product development, workload management, increased effic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CHEETAH Training & Innovation will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CHEETAH Training & Innovation is a cloud consulting and IT training firm specializing in improving clients cloud strategies and infrastructures for medium to large companies.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datanami has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datanami is a communication channel dedicated to providing insight, analysis and up-to-the-minute information about emerging trends and solutions in Big Data. The publication sheds light on all cutting-edge technologies including networking, storage and applications, and thei...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...