On the other hand, even in a mixed datacenter environment, there's occasionally one platform that staff have the most experience servicing. Going with that setup should help reduce the time needed to install and support the CMS, which is obviously important when you're involved in a fast-cycle project.
And be watchful for other infrastructure issues, especially if you have complex publishing requirements. Say you need to distribute to different channels – perhaps cell phones and desktop clients – or mirror content to different geographies for performance. This may mean you'll need one application server platform for the CMS and another for the Web server used to deliver content. A staging server (for testing), regular database maintenance, and disaster recover should play into your planning, too.
Furthermore, don't leave out other system administration tasks. Does the CMS provide easy access to items such as cache management, logs, performance reports, and user account management tools?
If you're not ready to keep up an in-house investment, there are several superior hosted CMS products; you can use the following criteria to evaluate them, too.
What features are most important? Common sense should tell you that no CMS will provide every feature you may need. So go with a variation of the 80-20 rule: Find the product with 80 percent of the functions most important to you using 20 percent of your overall budget. (Reserve the rest of your budget for implementation, support, and complementary purchases.) Here are some tips for that feature list.
Clearly, users need to work with the system, which initially entails developing templates for site sections. Templates enforce corporate style guidelines while separating content from the way it's presented. A WCM doesn't have to bundle a template editor; instead, make sure developers can employ tools they already know, such as Adobe Dreamweaver and Flash or Microsoft Visual Studio complemented by Silverlight.
Next, the software should let content contributors select the template appropriate for the section of the site they're working on and then create pages within an established taxonomy. For entering content, require the CMS to include a WYSIWYG editor that's accessible though a browser – without large downloads for plug-ins. Ideally, the system will allow in-line editing within the Web page, so users can immediately see the results of changes (instead of presenting them with multiple pop-up windows and multiple preview steps). To satisfy power users, expect access to the content's source code or, if appropriate, an XML editor. Moreover, the system ought to provide easy entry of meta tags.
You might also consider systems with a lightweight client, WebDAV support, or plug-ins for desktop applications (such as Microsoft Word). Any of these can help with importing content into the Web site and perhaps eliminate converting and reformatting.
Although the CMS doesn't require full-blown digital asset management, some form of this feature is becoming more commonplace. Look for an asset repository, with an intuitive visual interface, to access images and multimedia objects (Flash files, audio, and video).