Choosing a SaaS Content Management System

Introduction to SaaS Content Management System

People often confuse open source systems and proprietary SaaS Content Management Systems. SaaS Content Management or Cloud Content Management is the use of a CMS in a hosted or cloud computing environment. In several ways, open source software has been the core driving force for e-commerce and cash poor startups are attracted by open source applications because they seem to be a “no cost” software solution. While there are many benefits that may be derived from the use of such software, the true inherent costs are often be underestimated and many developers will often ignore the value of alternatives that exist out there. Google Docs, Box.net, and Acrobat.com are all examples of SaaS CMS.

SaaS and Open Source

For many businesses, small and medium, SaaS CMS products offer a more robust and easy to maintain environment than a pure source product. While SaaS CMS products are mostly built on open source platform, they provide a complete development environment, including support, with planned scalability so that long-term growth is considered. In addition, this planned scalability will also handle changing business needs. Exclusive open source products are normally best when single installation websites are developed and configured by a competent and professional web developer capable of keeping up-to-date installations, including security patches and new versions, and with the ability to continue working with the source code, even when errors occur.

What are the Benefits of SaaS?

SaaS software – with a single cohesive code base instead of a single installed instance of software for each website – allows the end user to re-channel his /her energy, focus on core business rather than technology, and achieve business objectives. It is even more beneficial to have a number of software instances in use, hosted in the cloud and updates immediately available for access by all users rather than if it were to be installed site by site. A business in the CRM field, for example, can transform the market with a SaaS product of its own and become the dominant player in the market. A SaaS CMS offers client users with robust and powerful tools to manage any volume of content more efficiently.

Other benefits of SaaS CMS include:

  • Availability – with an internet connection, clients are able to access content in real time
  •  Collaboration – it allows clients to simultaneously create, approve, edit or publish content, including spreadsheets, text documents, web copy, drawings, and more
  • Security – with advanced SaaS security features, clients can access their sensitive content safely. This is enabled by advanced security features, such as security authentication, ability to define personalized rules, roles, or privileges for internet access, and advanced logging of user activity.
  • Reliability – SaaS clients can maximize productivity using high levels of system availability, enabled by the advanced failover systems that are maintained by SaaS Content Management System service providers.
  • Storage – Clients can secure additional storage space for their documents and other content; all they have to do is ask. Moreover, a SaaS CMS offers data redundancy for any content within the system.

Ease of Setup

A school of thought amongst software developers claims that an open source CMS remains the most affordable alternative for a small website. While experience demonstrates that this allegation is mostly true during setup, adding in the overhead of an open source CMS setup, its customization, training and guidance on its use, and maintenance of the software may make a free open source system expensive after all. With SaaS CMS systems, on the other hand, you may be able to create sites very quickly. While monthly costs for an open source CMS may appear to be cheaper, SaaS Content Management Systems typically provide hosting and support among other services.

Integration

When using open source CMS to create a site, the software developer will usually collect a variety of components with an assortment of plug-in modules and the core CMS. While these plugins may look hugely appealing, providing a wide range of functionality, the difficulties or obstacles they cause are usually not instantly apparent. Issues of compatibility normally arise when the core CMS is updated while the developers of the plugins fail to update their component immediately. A simple thing, such as version updates of Firefox or IE browsers, can break the site or render it inoperative.

Looking beyond the software itself, you will often find open source CMS systems installed on single-server hosting environments. SaaS systems, however, are more likely housed in a well planned/ well maintained high availability hosting environment that offers effective security and redundant servers at all levels, often with layers such as load balancers, caching servers, database servers, application servers, software monitoring, backup systems and mail systems. For a serious online business, a high availability high performance hosting environment is a necessity. However, that kind of level of focus is usually beyond developers of several open source sites.

Support

Support is the key differentiating factor between open source CMS and SaaS CMS. While open source software is normally characterized by a substantial community of users with many forums that offer answerer to users’ numerous questions, the timeliness of those answers cannot be guaranteed, neither can you fully depend on them. In addition, while the other source of support can be the software author, plugin authors will often abandon their own creations and move on to the next project. Even though this approach may be acceptable for hobby-software, an e-commerce business needs to get fast responses to any problem considered critical. A good SaaS CMS system vendor will normally provide timely support to ensure sites remain online, performing and functioning effectively.

Conclusion 

SaaS CMS can provide businesses of virtually any size with a cost effective array of tools for document or content management. Based on the cloud computing model, its capital expenses typically associated with the traditional CMS can be eliminated. Since a SaaS CMS is flexible, with high scalability, it allows the CMS to keep up with the ever-changing demands of a growing business. You can instantly leverage SaaS CMS for productivity (not an option with on-premise CMS that require substantial investment in time and valuable resources to not only install, but also configure it).Some SaaS Content Management Systems enable users to implore their workflow features from other applications.

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Omri Erel
Omri is the Head of Demand Generation, as well as the Lead Author & Editor of the SaaSAddict Blog. Omri established the SaaSAddict blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to SaaS and cloud migration.
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