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To Cloud or Not to Cloud : CMS from the Cloud or Local?

By August 27, 2018 No Comments
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Content management systems (CMS) steer in the direction of “cloud” – there it should be faster, better and cheaper. But how can you evaluate if the cloud is right for an enterprise CMS? And which cloud resources make sense?

The camp of the proponents of the “cloud” sees the following advantages :

  • With the cloud, capacity can be scaled to better regulate traffic peaks
  • Managing a server environment is eliminated
  • High availability can be guaranteed in the cloud easier and cheaper.

Those who can not or do not want to go to the cloud have the following reasons:

  • You are in an industry that heavily regulates what and where is hosted
  • The cloud is considered slow and unstable, and on-premise provides more direct access
  • Too many integrations with legacy software are needed and/or one has become accustomed to working only with the existing system.

All others choose the hybrid midway with cloud and on-premises. For example, they host their main website on a secure, private, on-premise system, and microsites are quickly deployed in a cloud infrastructure.

The cloud simplifies customization and integration

Some people do not even know what the cloud offers: basically, customization can take place outside a CMS. The customization can be written using a different code or technology, and using the APIs of a Cloud CMS, they can be linked to the system and customized.

Imagine they want to ‘reprogram’ black coffee into a latte. You would have to hack the features of the coffee maker to change the outcome. So while your machine is personalized to your liking, further changes or updates will be more difficult.

Would it not be better to leave the coffee machine as it is and instead to put the milk mixer next to it and ‘dock’. The benefit is that both devices can be independently maintained as long as you have APIs.

Cloud environments enable customization and integration in a similar way. Instead of coding directly in the CMS portal, an independent piece of software code is used to connect the various services together. Like a black box that can only be accessed through public APIs.

And finally, from your front-end (eg, a webpage or mobile app ), connect to this independent piece of code to get the data you need – via representational state transfer ( REST ), which delivers JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), Javascript can be used to create the experience you want. Or do the same by using the templating features of your CMS.

The differences between cloud storage models

People often talk about different things when it comes to the cloud. Content management systems come in different variants. Here is a brief overview in a constantly evolving environment:

There is the classic, managed hosting model. You buy a license and the provider provides support. A kind of ‘rental right’ with a high level of support and benefits for customization and accessibility. In the end, this is still a classic software that is in a cloud environment – not a refactored native cloud solution.

There are also Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) models. These are programmed directly for the cloud and allow for greater refactoring. You can allocate workloads, specific instances, or stand-by environments as a single or multi-tenant. For example, if your authoring environment and asset management repository are multi-tenant but your production environment is single-tenant, you can split workloads to better optimize them individually.

Then there is Software as a Service (SaaS), also known as “Software on Demand.” In this case, everything is closed to a certain point and the CMS allows only a small degree of customization. There may be some elements, such as database structure and search index capabilities, that can not be personalized as they may interfere with the management of the multi-tenant environment. This model is often strictly tied to a single home cloud storage server.

A rather gloomy ‘cloudscape’ where expectations have to be scaled back. But that’s difficult, especially if your current digital ecosystem can handle customization well and is built on point-to-point custom integrations. In the cloud, you do not get the same level of customization.

Get the most out of cloud deployment

If you choose the cloud, then you should ask yourself: How do I adapt the new extensibility environment and how do I change legacy applications and extensions built and running on-premise?

Finding answers to these questions will help you make the most of the cloud.

Simply migrating a traditional CMS to the cloud is shortsighted. A CMS-as-a-service from the manufacturer that manages the cloud has little use. We need to examine the cloud environments thoroughly and redesign extensions to a new model.

How would you program a CMS from the ground up for the cloud? One could incorporate operational processes into the software. In other words, you could rewrite parts of your traditional software that you are dissatisfied with, that they are solved with cloud capabilities; for example, rapid deployment, dynamic scaling or automated updates.

Automated backups and continuous delivery simplify migrations and updates. Waiting for new ‘Releases’ is eliminated, you always have the new computer security update and the latest features. Even better, you can choose the time for updates yourself and even load earlier versions, if you prefer them.

They work with live content in separate yet synchronized development, authoring, and testing environments. Different teams no longer have to wait for codes and content copied from other environments. This kind of parallel work saves time and effort.

Finding the balance between flexibility and functionality is essential. What you lose in terms of flexibility in the cloud is gained through publishing speed and easier upgrades. Or use the best of both sides and isolate use cases according to scenarios. For example with a CRM in-house and e-commerce in the cloud.

Simply put, make your on-premise a heavyweight SUV – not very fast or agile but very useful and robust. The cloud model is the electric car, fast and agile.

Checklist for a simpler decision

Should you migrate your CMS website to the cloud? Evaluate your company’s expertise in cloud applications and the infrastructure and budget available. Data security (eg, can your business operate legally in the cloud?) Is another important factor in the age of re-regulation and compliance.

Finally, are you ready to rethink and redesign your business processes to get the most out of the cloud? If your organization has a lot of customization and strict workflows, processes can be customized by leveraging best practice operations through the out-of-the-box capabilities of your CMS.

Checklist: Do you want to be in the cloud to cut costs, enable faster innovation, make operations more robust, or make better use of infrastructure resources? Have you closely examined the impact on internet security and legality? What is your ROI and the time-to-market advantage?

The cloud can be promising – but look closely at what processes are required and who is involved to understand exactly what benefits they can bring to your business.

Contact Bleuwire™ to learn about services and solutions – how they can help your business.