Content management represents a broad area. Still, applications under this umbrella are usually thought of for publishing content to the Web. A CMS takes over where HTML editors run out of steam, as they typically deal with individual Web pages and require coding experience to use. On the other hand, a CMS is backed by a database, which keeps Web pages and related assets (such as images and documents pages reference) in one spot. Equally important, the software gives enterprises necessary control – from logically organizing the site and maintaining design standards to providing workflow and change management.
Choosing the right CMS can be a daunting endeavor, but this Test Center Guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.
What is a CMS?
First, let's put the whole content management topic into perspective. Most large organizations have an overarching, multiyear ECM (enterprise content management) strategy, with WCM (Web content management) being just one element. You'll also encounter EDRM (electronic document and records management), KM (knowledge management), DAM (digital asset management), workflow, collaboration, and DRM (digital rights management).
Lately the number of ECM vendors – those that offer all the aforementioned applications – has dramatically shrunk. Behemoth Oracle grabbed Stellent, which itself snapped up content security firms SealedMedia and Bitform. Open Text purchased Hummingbird (shortly after it had acquired RedDot) and DAM vendor Artesia. Then there's omnipresent EMC's buying frenzy (Document Sciences, ProActivity, and Captiva) to bolster its 2003 Documentum acquisition. And don't overlook IBM with its CM suite (from the 2006 FileNet acquisition), along with BPM (business process management) and compliance offerings.
In each of these consolidations, the idea was to give customers an end-to-end ECM solution that ranged from managing virtually every type of content to handling security. This strategy makes sense in many respects. For example, you could apply one set of rights management to documents, whether they're used for internal processes or repurposed on the corporate Web site.
Yet pure-play WCM vendors endure, even if they're not in the limelight. These companies have added document management and select other ECM features to their core products. But what sets these companies apart from the larger players – and contributes to their ongoing success – is that they typically offer lower cost and less complex solutions that many enterprise customers want. This sentiment's supported by a JupiterResearch survey that found 27 percent of CMS owners were very unhappy with the difficulty of using their system and considering a more straightforward replacement.
CMS buying criteria:
When evaluating a content management system, you should put five general categories on your checklist: technology, features, ability to integrate with other enterprise systems, customization, and costs.
Does the CMS fit into your IT infrastructure? Are you set on Windows Server, .Net framework, and Microsoft SQL Server? Or perhaps you're a Java shop and run Oracle application servers and databases. These factors should help you winnow your CMS candidates, because many vendors have experience with a particular stack. Still, there's nothing wrong with mixing and matching application servers, Web servers, and databases; just make sure the CMS vendor formally supports your configuration. Often, open source releases will give you the most deployment choices.