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Adrian Newby Posted by Adrian Newby June 24, 2015

Cloud-hosted Web Experience Management is not 100% cloud WEM

As the Chief Technology Officer, I’m often asked what the advantages are of subscribing to a 100% cloud platform to handle Web Experience Management. “Why can’t I just use [insert web content management system of choice here] delivered via a cloud hosted service?” the questioner wonders. “After all, aren’t these two WEM delivery methods basically the same thing?"

The short answer is, quite emphatically, NO they are not.

Gartner identified the vendor cloudwashing problem three years ago, and continues to dispel cloud myths in the marketplace. They warn buyers about fake cloud services that contain hidden managed service costs, fixed capacity contracting, and limited flexibility and agility. Gartner advises organizations seeking 100% cloud services to look for scalability, elasticity, self-service and a high degree of automation.

Judged strictly by the way “cloud CMS” alternatives are marketed, these services too start to sound the same. Don’t believe the hype. Many cloud hosted services just comprise physical or virtual server capacity on a subscription basis. These are cloudwashed WEM alternatives that continue to over-promise and under-deliver for mid to large enterprises.

There are in fact three material advantages of subscribing to a 100% cloud-based WEM platform over a cloud hosted service that delivers your otherwise earthbound WCM system. Organizations can compare cost, capability/usability and time to market as three key measures of the potential return on investment of each option.

  1. Cost. Unforeseen costs during upgrades and migrations can tank your total cost of ownership.
  2. Cloud Architecture. A 100% cloud platform offers enterprises a lot more than just hosting services.
  3. Time to Market. A fully managed cloud content management solution maximizes all the inherent benefits of the cloud to speed things up.

Let's examine all three advantages.

100% cloud WEM lowers total cost of ownership

Vendors and agencies that offer to host your WCM system in the cloud will tell you that they can manage your core platform for you. In reality many IT organizations later realize they continue to need managed services to keep everything up and running. Upgrading your specific CMS instance in the cloud can be particularly problematic, especially if the system has been connected to a bunch of third-party content and data sources on the back end to drive personalization on your websites.

Many of those integrations can break after a significant core upgrade. This often delicate process demands technical experts to maintain the many APIs between varied versions of all your connected products. Additional cost can be incurred if standing up a new duplicate parallel environment is required to keep everything running and available during the upgrade/migration project.

Don’t allow unforeseen expenses inherent in cloud-hosted options to negatively impact your total cost of ownership. With 100% cloud WEM solutions, system upgrades happen automatically. The vendor is on the hook to maintain high availability, reliability and performance during this process – not you. All of your third-party integrations are not left unmanaged but maintained.

100% cloud WEM is built on scalable cloud architecture

Any cloud service you choose should support your organization’s existing enterprise architecture. For web architects and developers this means integrating websites to enterprise authentication systems, SOA architectures and other back-end infrastructure. They need to easily incorporate working code from other implementations and instantly equip all cloud-managed websites with the same capabilities. They need to scale up quickly without the need to provision additional data center resources.

Ask tough questions of your cloud hosted service provider. Will they scale up your infrastructure resources in real-time to match demand? Do they have the elasticity to reduce consumption and meter down usage just as quickly? How much control do you get to automate, reduce human error and limit costs? If you are getting a custom private cloud, it’s unlikely you’ll reap the full benefits of cloud architecture.

With 100% cloud WEM, the cloud provides a unified, commonly accessible infrastructure to deliver customer experiences across the entire lifecycle. Content management has been abstracted from content delivery. Architects can choose any technology platform (e.g. Java, .Net, LAMP) and any location for content delivery, even to applications hosted by a third party such as Rackspace or located within the organization’s own data center. Developers can design front-ends for existing portals and e-commerce systems that match the web/mobile experience.

A fully managed cloud WEM service speeds time to market

Cloud hosted services are seldom fully managed. They leave I.T. teams the burden of time consuming tasks such as third-party systems/software licensing, high-availability design, disaster recovery design, scalability testing and vulnerability/penetration analysis. Cloud WEM solutions maximize all the benefits inherent in the cloud service delivery model. They remove the burden of web infrastructure design, planning, construction and management from I.T. to speed project rollout.

Cloud WEM platforms eliminate the need for lengthy operational readiness testing cycles and extensive compliance reviews. Their enterprise-class cloud architecture is certified to comply with operational control, information security and data protection standards. Your organization’s digital experience delivery projects come to market far more quickly and at low, predictable cost.

If your organization is considering a cloud hosted service for your [insert web content management system of choice here], I urge you to compare that option against a fast, secure and scalable cloud WEM alternative.