Last time you and I got together, you were being swept away into the alluring world of the enterprise web content management system — also known as EWCMS, WCMS, or for simplicity's sake, CMS. (It just rolls right off the tongue, right?) You might have left with more questions than answers, and that’s okay. It’s gonna take a few more blog posts to get through all the basics. Why don’t you grab a glass of wine or something while you read? I’ll wait.
Okay, so there are six factors we think you should strongly consider as you explore the world of enterprise CMS: integration, scalability, ease of use, security, workflows, and multi-site support. Those are some big, loaded terms and we need to define them a bit more specifically so you know what to consider for your website. Today, we’re going to talk integration and scalability. We’ll tackle the other factors in future installments of this series.
When we talk about “integration” in the world of CMS, we’re talking about making software tools and services work together. For example, your company probably has a system separate from your website where jobs are posted, people can apply, applications can be reviewed, etc. When a new job gets added to the job system, you want it to show up on your website. And when that job is closed, you want it to disappear from the website. For that to happen automagically, you need an integration.
Without an integration, you’d have to email or create a ticket for a site admin to log into the CMS to type in “Senior Rock Star Ninja Guru Expert” and link that text to the job description. Then the site admin would need to click “Update” to save change and make it show up on the website. And then you’ve gotta go on your site and make sure the update was done correctly. And finally, when that new job posting gets filled, the site admin would have to log into the site and manually remove the linked text.
Integrations allow your CMS to automatically and dynamically talk to other systems at regular intervals to present current information without needing someone to manually update content on the website. There are many examples of more technical integrations, but let’s keep it simple for today. Integrations reduce manual labor for your website, which also reduces the risk of human error. For some companies in highly regulated industries, human error is a major concern.
Sometimes you have to force two (or more!) systems to work together with a custom integration, and those can be pretty challenging and expensive. Yes, they can be even more expensive than the site admin’s annual salary who would otherwise be manually updating the site.
Scalability is a fancy word that means you need another glass of wine by now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
If your company is an enterprise, there’s a good chance a lot of people will be visiting your company’s website every day. The more people visiting your site every day, the greater the chances of having multiple people visiting your site at the same time. Every person who accesses your website uses some computing power and resources from the CMS. Depending on the number of concurrent people visiting your site and the computing demands of your users, you’ll need to scale your CMS up to fit that need.
In my world, that means needing a 36” belt for my 34” pants because, let’s face it, I’m not always “watching what I eat.” I need those pants to scale up for those days/weeks where I’m just not getting my 35,000 steps per day in. #fitness
Some companies have websites that deal with peak traffic periods where traffic can be extra heavy for some amount of time and then light the rest of the time. That’s where you get into dynamic scaling of your web servers where additional capacity can be created using algorithms that watch the traffic needs of your website. That stuff is cool and way easier than ever, but it’s still challenging and can add to cost.
Another scalability factor includes the fact that your website’s users may be geographically distributed. If you’ve got a lot of website visitors in India, but your website is hosted in some data center on the western coast of the United States, that’s not going to give those users in India a good experience. When they type in your URL, their web browser has to initiate a connection to your web server that crosses the ocean and then crosses the United States for every file needed to show your website on their computer.
So, depending on where your users are, you’ve gotta figure out a way to provide fast, reliable access to your website. And if you’ve got content that changes regularly, that’s another piece of the CMS design that needs to be factored in. If you’ve got a few web servers around the world presenting the same information, you need to make sure they all stay in sync.
Computers are fun, right?!
All right, even I can’t take any more of this. Let’s talk about ease of use and security in the next post. Cool?
If you’ve got any questions, my offer in the last post still stands. We are more than happy to guide you through this stuff and talk through any questions you might have.