Not only are prospective purchasers presented with the plethora of CMS solutions out there, both open source and Microsoft .Net; now the choice has expanded to cover cloud based solutions too.
We look at one of our favourite solutions Kentico and weigh up the pros and cons of moving over to the cloud.
So, what are the key features and benefits of the Kentico’s traditional CMS, EMS and the Kentico Cloud offering?
Stand-alone CMS - Kentico CMS
Stand-alone systems, such as Kentico CMS, are self-contained meaning that the code and database behind them are all stored in one place. They have a web based interface that allows content editors to easily update content through this interface.
Traditional CMS solutions require a hosting environment, either hosting the application on your own servers or in the cloud (not to be confused with a cloud CMS solution such as Kentico cloud). They require that a web server is configured properly, the CMS application is installed and that the company responsible for the maintenance ensures that up to date versions and patches are installed, and that security performance and backups are maintained.
As you would expect, Kentico CMS offers powerful page editing features along with a host of advanced functions giving the client a great deal of control over how content is displayed.
They tend to be rich in other features. These include things such as a comprehensive e-commerce module including discounts, multiple currencies and shipping and tax calculation, to name a few.
They use the concept of pages and simple to use drag and drop interfaces, but as we will see later this does have its limitations when delivering multichannel content.
Kentico EMS takes all the features of Kentico CMS and adds a whole host of advanced features aimed at the marketer. These features include:
- Content personalisation - a module that delivers the right content based on the browsing history of the individual.
- A/B testing - a fully integrated module that offers testing for an unlimited number of page variants and requires no external applications and allow you to test, manage, or analyse data.
- Marketing automation – this module is designed as a simple drag-and-drop interface so that you can create automated campaigns and modify the flow of activities.
- Email - Kentico’s email builder allows you to quickly build emails through the a simple to use drag-and-drop interface. It allows you to design your own widgets and gives you powerful tools to create engaging email marketing campaigns.
- Analytics – Kentico allows you to seamlessly track marketing campaigns, conversions on the website along with offering many reporting options.
Kentico EMS is a very flexible solution which has much to offer regardless of your industry sector or size of your organisation. It is aimed at organisations that want to make the most of the marketing functions on offer.
Kentico cloud is what is sometimes referred to as a headless CMS. Unlike traditional CMS solutions, it manages just the content leaving how the content is displayed up to the company developing it.
This focuses on the management of the content through an Application Programming Interface (API) and makes the content available on any platform or device. It does this without the presentation layer, leaving those implementing the CMS to have full control over the presentation, using their own code.
While a traditional CMS can run in the cloud they are generally not designed to maximise the benefits the cloud brings. Traditional CMS choices have historically meant locking organisations into a specific platform vendor, meaning that switching later meant ditching the existing system and starting again.
Cloud solutions are “headless" meaning they use the API to integrate with both internal and external services. This offers far more flexibility than a traditional CMS solution and makes switching to another system a much simpler process.
Kentico offer a true headless CMS as opposed to some of the “hybrid” solutions offered by some other vendors.
When evaluating CMS systems, organisations often fail to factor in the ongoing cost of maintenance and version upgrades. This is particularly important if the website stores sensitive information such as personal data held. With the GDPR coming into effect in May, ensuring data stored on your website is secure is now more important than ever. The advantage of cloud based solutions is that there is no need for expensive upgrades as the CMS is always kept up to date by the vendor.
With a cloud CMS, the vendor is responsible for web server maintenance, database server maintenance and backups taking away the headache and costs associated with managing this.
Another key benefit with headless solutions such as Kentico cloud is in the platform and device delivery. Because it is API based, delivering content to multiple devices is a much simpler task. With mobile overtaking desktops as the platform of choice in 2016 (statcounter 2016) then the benefits of a CMS that delivers engaging experiences on mobile becomes clear.
Cloud CMS solutions such as Kentico cloud take a “content-first” approach. Instead of having to wait for the CMS to be deployed and the templates created, it’s possible to start creating content if a structured format that can be used across multiple channels. Front end and back end are independent of one another, meaning front end development can take place whilst the client works on content population.
Finally, Kentico cloud offer a simplified version of Kentico EMS in the form of Kentico Engage. This allows for content to be delivered based on visitor attributes and behaviours and whilst not having all the functionality of EMS we expect that Kentico we enhance these features in the future.
Pros and cons of the traditional CMS / EMS
- It’s relatively simple to set up and manage
- It’s a tried and tested model
- Less reliance on a technical agency to make changes to layout templates
- There is an increase security risk due to updates not being automatic
- The CMS code, templates and custom code are all integrated meaning more complex maintenance.
- Website performance is dictated by the performance of the web servers.
Pros and cons for the Cloud
- It offers the best solution when offering multichannel experiences
- It offers greater security
- It's more scalable
- It offers greater flexibility in the way that code is created and information displayed
- Greater speed to market using agile methods and the ability to create content independently from the front end
- It may be more limited in terms of organisations creating custom templates
- It requires developers to create web specific functionality.
One of the main advantages of Kentico cloud is allowing organisations to focus on getting the content out quickly to multichannels, along with its speed and simplicity of deployment. Coupled with lower ongoing maintenance since the responsibility for keeping the software updated is with the vendor.
But the Cloud is not the right choice for every organisation, with traditional CMS / EMS solutions proving a better choice with those who favour greater control themselves and where the multichannel experience is less of a priority.
Before embarking on either a traditional CMS build or the Cloud we recommend talking to a Kentico expert such as ourselves, who will look at your needs and be able to advise you on a solution that fits.