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CMS Platforms: An Industry Overview

The CMS industry is confusing and has many players. Let us help explain where all those players fit into the puzzle with our overview of CMS platforms.

CMS Platforms: An Industry Overview

Choosing a CMS for your business has become a very difficult process.

As the CMS industry evolved, the spectrum of providers expanded, each within a particular selling point to differentiate themselves. However, it is important to note the differences between the types of CMSs and how they all compare to each other. These differences are based on a variety of factors such as pricing & license model, technology stack (the core components of the CMS) and the CMSs core niche. With a little research, it is easy to see how an entire tranche of businesses are left out without a solution offered by the marketplace.

Pricing & License Models

The CMS landscape today consists of a wide range of pricing models, which start at no-cost freeware and progress upwards to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why the pricing divergence? Mostly because the companies that support their own software have overhead to maintain the product, while the freeware products are maintained by the open-source community.

It is our belief, despite the pricing divergence, that most CMS platforms all provide more or less the same solution.

Most of the time, open-source software can be equivalently compared to enterprise level CMS installations in terms of features and functionality. However, many large organizations opt for the safety of a license fee and trusting that another corporation is managing their software. After all, open-source software doesn’t exactly leave anyone accountable except for those who chose to use it.

Licensing models are a huge differentiating factor in the CMS industry. The leading open-source platforms are exactly that: open-source. This means they are free to use and amend as you deem fit. However, as mentioned before, this means your support comes from the community – not an organization you can hold accountable.

With enterprise platforms, a monthly or yearly license fee may cost a substantial sum, but it does give you the element of support and accountability on your vendor.

The negatives to either of these models is ownership. The customer always will own the unique changes and customization they made to these platforms, but the foundation will never become their property, or their asset. An analogy would be building a house: you may license out the foundation of the house whether it be open-source or licensed, and build on top of it. But, if the foundation were to change expectantly all of the work you put on top of it could go to waste.

Technology Stack

The technology that powers CMS systems plays a large part in the dynamics of the product, the pricing and the license fee. As a broad but accurate generalization, the open-source landscape is comprised of mostly platforms that utilize open-source software such as PHP, MySQL or MongoDB, and Apache/Linux. On the higher end of the spectrum, enterprise platforms will utilize more licensed technologies such as Microsoft ASP.net or similar, or perhaps even their own unique scripting language.

CMS Niche

Most CMS systems have some niche, or core reason that they were originally introduced. WordPress was a blogging engine. Drupal was heavily organized towards content management. Joomla tried to do everything, and SiteCore was aimed at enterprise. Why this matters in choosing a CMS is that the core purpose of the system should align with what you are looking to achieve.

For example, when WordPress came on the scene it was primarily a blogging tool. Even today, many versions in the future, WordPress separates “Posts” from “Pages”. This is because posts were the core philosophy of the platform. Over time, the community built more and more functionality on top of the system. Today, WordPress proponents claim it can do anything from Community to E-Commerce and more. However, should you risk running an e-commerce platform on top of WordPress? Are there better platforms?

Likewise, the temptation exists to combine platforms. When building an e-commerce site with an informational site or blog, site owners may choose to run multiple platforms which can turn into all sorts of additional problems.

Mind The Gap

The current CMS landscape looks much like the graphic below. The open-source freeware or the cheap hosted solutions dominate the lower budget end of CMS installations. On the enterprise side, Sitecore and Adobe dominate high-budget projects. That leaves a large gap that is underserved by the industry.

This leaves two options: bust the bank and license large platforms which offer benefits of little value, or take open-source freeware, despite it’s shortcomings, and make it work for your purposes.

There is a better way – the gap is served best with custom developed solutions.

Why Custom Content Management Systems Matter

Custom systems matter and should be entertained as options because when built with the right ingredients, they mitigate many of the risks above. From a value perspective, custom solutions can last longer and require fewer updates over the course of 5 to 7 years. Custom solutions allow you to research and determine the best technology stack for your organization. And, they are built to your specifications so there is no original niche or purpose to be concerned about.

Marketers and technologists should carefully consider the requirements of their project. If completion of their project means that they have to make sacrifices to their spec to fit a certain system, or if it means compiling more than one system together, there is a chance that a custom solution makes the most sense going forward.

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Our team is available to answer questions you may have.  Contact us today!

Our team is available to answer questions you may have.  Contact us today!

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