When WCM vendors choke on cloud

Most of the Web Content Management vendors we evaluate claim to have some sort a cloud option.

For many of these vendors, this boils down to one of two things:

  1. A SaaS offering which may or may not employ cloud-based infrastructure
  2. Managed hosting services, perhaps from a partner, which may or may not employ cloud-based infrastructure

Depending on your requirements, either of these options could constitute an improvement relative to an on-premise installation in your own datacenter.

Things get trickier, though, when you consider exploiting true cloud services like Amazon EC2.  As enterprises transition to more dynamic, personalized services, site owners are bumping up against the limits of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to address performance at scale.  Now consider for a moment the largest WCM vendors who would ostensibly power the world's busiest (and therefore most cloud-interested) public sites.  Those vendors by and large have not helped their customers exploit cloud services. 

To be sure, there are some technical challenges here, though I don't think they're insurmountable.  Also, many enterprises just don't want to extend to cloud-based infrastructure on principle, sometimes for very good reasons.

However, I believe the real problem -- the part that has vendors pausing on both public and private clouds -- is licensing models.  Unlike collaboration or document management tools, most WCM tool licensing is weighted heavily towards CPUs rather than seats.  Vendors who were already hiccuping on pricing models for virtualized internal deployments seem positively hogtied about cloud installations.

What should you do?  If you want to investigate cloud-based infrastructure for your increasingly dynamic WCM installation, press your vendor to come up with more value-based pricing, something that may expand with your success, but also contract if you shrink their footprint.  Right now, most licensing models have you paying for unused capacity.  Elasticity should go both ways. 

As you explore your alternatives, we're happy to help.

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Gil, Partner, Cancentric Solutions Inc.
iStudio Canada Inc.

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