Cloud Connected



"I have been searching for a product like Cloud CMS for over 10 years.

After false starts with some typical content management solutions, we were finally able to design the content repository that our business required."
James Baddiley
James Baddiley, CEO
ChilliSauce

Assessing the CMS cost options?

The risks and costs associated with CMSs can be frightening. Many organizations have entered a CMS project, and are still to come out. Frustrated by the on-going costs of getting the CMS to work and then the costs of keeping it working. Partly this is due to unrealistic expectations but the primary reason is not looking at all the costs upfront and assessing the resources available to support a complex IT initiative.

A basic for assessing your immediate and ongoing costs for any application is where the application a lives and how will it be supported. If you have limited IT resources then you need to be careful where you use them. Ideally, the CMS should be a tool to facilitate you doing business and allow your resources to do what they do best.

Traditional On-Premise

Examples:

  1. Initial Purchase cost
  2. Annual maintenance/subscription
  3. Could be user/CPU/both cost model
  4. Support means product support (not the services to configure)
  5. Additional costs

* Services * Installation * Configurations/customizations * Upgrades * Best practices and getting the most from your investment * Environments (Hardware, 3rd party software, Operating Systems, Network,..) * Resources (IT team) * Additional modules: be careful when getting quotes to ensure all the features you are looking for are included in the price. Deployment, clustering, Records Management, WCM, DM,.. are often priced separately like a ‘Chinese laundry’ list

Open Source

Examples:

There are various flavors of Open Source. Check the features in the Open Source release and the level of support available. Open source companies have a commercial model which you should understand.

Community release vs enterprise release: the Community release has had limited testing, no support from the vendor or partners, and can have limited features. Essentially it is good for proof of concept before purchasing the enterprise release, small companies that cannot afford the enterprise release, or for non-business critical applications. The Enterprise release usually has a (not insignificant) annual cost for maintenance/support which is usually the same model as above for the Traditional On-Premise products.

With Open Source it is not for the faint hearted. There are significant additional costs: cost of hosting the server yourself, hiring IT/devops or custom developers, maintaining it between releases, etc. For either enterprise or community, that’s very non-trivial.

SaaS – (Software as a Service)

Examples:

A SaaS type model can be very appealing to a business in that it allows resources to concentrate on their business.

SaaS CMS services can convert expensive capital outlay for servers and network equipment into a monthly operating expense, while also reducing the IT resources required to manage enterprise records. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_content_management

  • typically monthly fee (often annual commitment)
  • Pricing model can be stepped on parameters such as: users, memory, files size, bandwidth, projects, tenants

Cloud Content Management Systems

Examples:

This is an emerging category and is a subset of SaaS. From a high level the differences are: - Designed from the ground up to work in the cloud. So what I here you say! - Content API: the focus of this group is the value of content and presenting the content for developers to integrate in any website or app. - Cost: much cheaper than traditional SaaS CMS vendors

Managed Service

Examples:

This may appear like SaaS but there are be variations on where the software is installed (vendor/on-premise/cloud/SaaS) and levels of responsibility defined in the Service Level Agreement. Additional Services may be included to handle customizations which can include broader IT and support needs .

Summary of Options

Selling a CMS to your Boss?

You have found the CMS to answer all your dreams and perhaps a lot more – now what? The quest for CMS nirvana is over and you are ready to start moving forward and onto the interesting challenges ahead.

Probably not – you still have to sell the CMS to your Management! Your management is likely less interested in the great architecture/features and more interested in the costs to the business of buying or even not buying the CMS.

Coming from the business side, this blog touches on the topics I would like technical teams to consider in their research. When presenting the CMS evaluations and recommendations to management the technical team should step into the Dark Side – they need to prepare and think like a manager.

Does the CMS meet the High level feature requirement(s)?

Evaluate against the written criteria and try to present the findings in an unbiased manner. Compromises may have to be made or perhaps the requirements were unrealistic. Either way – this is only one of the factors management is looking at so do not despair.

  1. What features are critical?
  2. What features are nice to have?
  3. Don’t buy functionality you don’t need. It is easy to get distracted
  4. Consider current and future needs?

* Features * Scalability

What is the Total Cost of Ownership?

This is usually an area technical people do not want to venture into but please persevere. You are often best positioned to calculate the costs: server sizing, whether technology is a fit for the organization, third party costs,..

Budget is always a factor in selection of products/solutions. You must go further and look at all costs, ie Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), because there are many hidden and less obvious costs with any CMS. Be prepared to consider all the costs and what is your basis for those costs – not just the obvious purchase price, but the setup/environment, etc… Even Open Source has a cost – ie. if this is a business critical system how is it supported

  1. Annual license cost
  2. License model (cpu/user) and cost of add-on components
  3. Additional license costs as you scale
  4. Cost of initial setup, maintenance, upgrades
  5. Services cost for customizations (internal and external)
  6. Training
  7. Third party costs
  8. Setup and Infrastructure. The costs can be significant and can have a financial/time/resource impact. On premise, hosted, Cloud, SaaS (Software as a Service),..

Think like your manager?

If you get in the same mindset as management you can prepare and present accordingly:

  1. Return On Investment (ROI): A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments.
  2. Time to Value (TTV): is a business term that describes the period of time between a request for a specific value and the initial delivery of the value requested. This is interesting as often the value is not monetary. A CMS can be critical decision for business growth and expansion.
  3. Risks and Risk Mitigation: need to identify risks and have a risk mitigation plan
  4. Not ‘Bleeding Edge’: rarely does a company want to be the first with a new release or product.
  5. Core business: Rarely do you find a manager that is as excited as you with technology – they just need to know it works. I have had customers who have stated to me that if they have to get involved with the CMS then it is failing for them ie they are getting distracted from their core business
  6. Managers are human too: Demo and trail will short cut a long discussion

What will be your involvement? (or what type of customer are you?)

Consider how you want to work with the CMS. Do you have available resources and budget to configure and maintain the CMS and 3rd party systems. These are key questions for management: management want to concentrate resource on their business and do not want time and resources to be distracted. A SaaS type model can be very appealing to a business in that it allows resources to concentrate on their business.

  1. A SaaS (Software as a Service) type model or Fully managed service? SaaS CMS services can convert expensive capital outlay for servers and network equipment into a monthly operating expense, while also reducing the IT resources required to manage enterprise records. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_content_management
  2. Want an Out of the Box product with minimal maintenance/support needed?
  3. Is there an internal IT team and who are expected to own all aspects of the CMS going forward?

(Table inspired from “SaaS vs. In-House DAM – Which is Right For You” http://www.cmswire.com/cms/digital-asset-management/saas-vs-inhouse-dam-which-is-right-for-you-024761.php)

Is there Support/Help available?

You need to be sure that if you need help there is help available when you need it. If you are using the CMS for your company or for your customers you will need commercial support.

  1. What commercial support is available?
  2. Self help information
  3. FAQ’s, search
  4. Is there a community .

Is CMS information difficult to find?

The easier it is to find clear information the better. Also, it is difficult not to be suspicious when a vendor is not open – what are they trying to hide? Note: your manager is likely to perform their own research to some level so this must not be too challenging an experience.

  1. Is there clear Product Pricing information publically available?
  2. If Open Source (what is in the ‘free’ version and what is in the Commercial version)
  3. Can you get a free Trial of the full product?

Is the CMS company a company you want to work with? - Integrity and References

Do some basics: email and talk to the vendor for information and support? When choosing a product/company consider it more as a win-win partnership. If you cannot see this partnership stop and reconsider!

  1. Initial communication and type of communication. Including does the vendor have and aggressive inside sales team that calls you when you watch their video or download an article. The product should standup by itself.
  2. Case studies and references
  3. Trust? Do you like this company and do you feel you can rely on them to be with you after the initial deal

Final Comment:

Choosing a CMS is difficult and can be an expensive mistake which will not go away. Do your research and provide as full a picture of the CMS as possible to your management such that there are no surprises after purchase. Some CMSs are very costly and as such present a substantial investment and risk to the business. Whatever you can do to reduce the risks will make the discussion with your management easier. In particular: ability to try out the CMS; a SaaS model will allow for easier adoption and if necessary easy exit; and choose a vendor you feel confident with.

Content as a Service

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a series of blogs that talk about the merits of Content as a Service and what it means in terms of driving a Content First approach to mobile and web application design at Cloud CMS. We’ll dive into how it enables our customers to get serious about the value of content within their business. We’ll also touch on industry trends and where we think it’s all heading.

Cloud Content Platform

Imagine all of your mobile and web applications connected to a fast and secure content backend that provides real-time publishing and instant insight into how your customers use your applications.

Imagine not having to build that. Instead, you’d sign up for it as a service in the same way that you’d sign up for SalesForce, GitHub or ZenDesk. It’s cost effective and it scales really nicely across all of your apps.

It’s content as a service. It provides a backend with all of the tools and applications needed so that your business users can create, manage and publish content to your mobile and web apps. It lets you get serious about your content, modeling it once so that you can create things once and publish them everywhere.

In the end, this makes it possible for a business of any size to manage 2, 3 or 100 sites worth of content… all from one place.

Today this is reality.

That’s what we’re up to at Cloud CMS.

At Cloud CMS, our goal is to provide all of the backend hard stuff that enterprise content management software has been doing for years… but at only 5% of the cost.

To us, that’s content as a service. It’s taking CMS – everything from web content management to document management, from records management to content analytics – and packaging it up behind a cloud service so that small businesses can use it to bring value to their customers.

We’re innovating in the cloud to do things that were never possible before. In doing so, we let small businesses get their hands on amazing tools to create content once and publish it across all of their applications.

Why the Cloud?

We’ve been at the cloud for a few years and so we know about the value it delivers. At its core, the cloud is a mechanism for reducing costs and giving your business better repeatability and reliability for its business infrastructure and processes.

You can think of this like a utility. Kind of like the electricity that flows into your home. You don’t really have to worry about how it works behind the scenes. The utility company might completely rearrange how they manufacture or distribute energy. As long as it works when you plug your lamp into the wall, it’s fairly transparent to you.

Software that is designed for the cloud is less expensive. It is elastic in nature which means that it can run on a single server sometimes and more servers at other times depending on your traffic needs. You only pay for what you use.

Cloud-based software, when properly implemented, can be priced much lower than traditional enterprise software. That’s why HelpScout, MailChimp, Cloud CMS and many others are able to offer the same features as older enterprise companies but at a fraction of the price.

In addition, software that is well designed for the cloud has the potential to span data centers all around the world. In fact, you can think of it running everywhere, all at once. Your mobile and web applications can simply request content, at any time, from anywhere and the infrastructure responds. 24/7. Anywhere in the world. And in any language.

The conclusion here is a simple one. Don’t spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for enterprise software. You’re being taken advantage of. Instead, go with modern software that was built for the cloud. Not just installed in the cloud. But instead, designed to provide you these advantages. You’ll not only get more features, but you’ll pay much, much less.

More to Come

That’s it for now. In our next blog entry, we’ll dive further into Content First and take a look at the impact to mobile devices and responsive design. We’ll also dive into cloud-connected applications and look at how content as a service is used to deliver amazing experiences that span multiple devices.

If you’d like to check out how all of this works in action, please visit Cloud CMS and sign up for a free trial. We’d love to know what you think.