Under the Hood of Content Management Systems Part II – The CMS Landscape

Choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) can significantly improve the way an organization manages and shares information internally and externally. This sharing of information, implemented correctly, can lead to critical improvements in sales, support, partnering, hiring, marketing, and investor relations.

The number of Content Management applications available on the market today is staggering. All of the major software vendors have their own version of a CMS as do many midsize software companies. This breadth of available CMS software offers a wide range in functionality, complexity, and price. There is now a CMS solution for every business need. Finding the ideal CMS solution that fits the specific needs of the organization’s content strategy is critical.

Before any Content Management System is demonstrated or chosen, the organization should first examine all of the business requirements for such a system. Long term goals should be defined for the CMS and factors such as IT resources, training needs, integration needs, hardware, content writers, and web developers should be considered. By not fully taking into consideration the business needs, organizations may select the wrong CMS and then be forced to spend large amounts of money to customize it to fit business requirements. It is better to fully research the intended uses of the system and purchase a CMS that already fits specific business requirements. Costs in licensing, installation, configuration, and maintenance are major factors in determining which CMS solution is right for your objectives. In the long run the CMS should be modeled around your organization’s business process rather than the other way around. A well thought out CMS strategy will also help in getting buy-in from executive management and employees.

The following is a general list of CMS solutions on the market today. These systems, which range in price from free to approximately $500,000 in licensing fees represent a representative sample of the types of CMS solutions available.

Please note: the categories and systems below are not exclusive of each other. Many products span multiple categories.

Enterprise Content Management Systems

For mid- to large-size organizations with dozens to hundreds of staff writing and managing content, an Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) will automate tasks involved in managing large scale content deployments. These systems are powerful applications with custom workflow controls, powerful templating modules, object caching, clustering, and documented methods for integration with organizational applications. Most Enterprise Content Management Systems will also have modules for detailed reporting, user groups with specific roles/permissions, and versioning.

Lotus Workplace Web Content Management

This system, previously called Aptrix, provides a tight integration with both WebSphere and Lotus / Domino systems. LWWCM has one of the most intuitive interfaces on the market allowing for easy training and maintenance. Customizable tabbed forms enable users of most technical backgrounds to easily create and manage content across the site. This system dynamically renders static content for the live site. As a fairly new system to IBM, this CMS is currently lacking good documentation and training programs.


Microsoft Content Management Server

The largest software provider in the world has come out with many powerful server applications for its business customers within the last several years. The Microsoft Content Management Sever is a powerful CMS, based on NCompass purchased in 2001, for organizations that utilize the Microsoft Platform. This system provides one of the best application frameworks on the market with well documented APIs, open code, clear database integration, and industry standards in interoperability and formatting. Editing tools for the CMS integrate with Internet Explorer allowing users to edit the website from within the browser. In their typical fashion, Microsoft is coming from behind in this industry making significant improvements in this system with every iteration.


Global Content Management Systems

Multiple web sites with content in various languages targeted at a variety of audiences around the globe can be difficult to manage. Powerful CMS solutions with strong templating components, Unicode compliance, distributed architectures, complex workflow, and multifunctional formatting tools allow managers within organizations to manage web sites that provide information to users around the globe with localized designs and content. Significant improvements have been made in this category of content management over the past two years as more and more companies strive to enable global companies to cater to worldwide customers and employee bases. These systems are designed specifically for large multinational organizations with thousands of employees, hundreds of thousands of documents, and websites with thousands of pages.

Interwoven TeamSite

For many organizations, TeamSite is the Content Management standard. With the latest release, TeamSite 6.0, Interwoven has enabled users to customize the interfaces of its powerful Content Management Solutions. With tools for versioning, user security, web content editing, document sharing, media administration, and publishing – TeamSite has become one of the most recognized names in web site management. Extractable is an Interwoven partner.



Stellent’s Content Management System is an end-to-end solution that delivers content quickly. Flexible tools for templating and workflow make it possible to maintain growing volumes of content from a wide variety of sources and make that content accessible across an entire enterprise. Stellent’s powerful versioning functions are also ideal for application deployments. One of the powerful functions that makes Stellent stand out in the CMS world is its integration with the underlying folder structure on the server. User can save documents from editors (MS Word) to a directory on the server and the CMS will automatically categorize, format, and upload the document to the system.


Application Content Management Systems

If a site requires dynamic functionality such as ecommerce, CRM, personalization, security features, and/or integrated applications, a Content Management System specializing in application management and integration is required. There are many Application Content Management Systems that easily integrate content tools with enterprise and e-business applications for a seamless solution. As the web becomes more and more functional, sites are requiring robust functional components with dynamic data and more and more Content Management Systems are starting to have application management components.


Vignette V7 is an integrated platform of applications and web services to create and manage information, business processes, portals and applications. The Vignette Command Center is a configurable, role-based management console that enables business and technical users to manage virtually all of their electronic assets and delivery applications through one interface. What Vignette makes up for in developing dynamic sites, it lacks in versioning. Vignette users often need to write or integrate their own versioning system.


WebSphere Portal

IBM’s WebSphere is more of an Application Server than a Content Management System. But this powerful set of applications has several impressive Content Management features. With WebSphere organizations can create secure customer portals with dynamic content that are easily managed by users throughout an organization.


Document Content Management

Large organizations that share content with partners, internal staff, distributors, and/or customers have content in many different formats. A powerful Document Content Management System allows enterprises to share information in virtually any format over the web, across the network, via email, and/or through powerful versioning systems. Collaboration tools integrated directly with the document creation process allow multiple people within an organization to contribute content to the same document in well-defined and easy to use workflow processes. Powerful collaboration tools enable users to not only create content but associate all available meta information with processes and content components.


Document, now a division of EMC, has for a long time been one of the biggest players in document management. Their powerful tools allow large organizations to automate many of the functions involved in collaborative information creation and management. Tightly integrated tools allow users to create documents, or components of a document (ie. an Executive Summary), in most popular formats and selectively/securely share this information across or outside the organization. With a large focus on customer support, Document excels in offering training, documentation, and consulting services.



One the first players in the content management market, FileNet is deeply ingrained in a lot of large organization information sharing structures (80 of the Fortune 100). FileNet tools are built around the needs of large diverse organizations and great for implementing standards in content structures, workflows, and storage.


Specialty Content Management

Some CMS solutions are built with specific content in mind. Unique pieces of content such as Property Leases, Digital Movies/Music, and Electronic Design Automation content have distinct rules, workflows, and management requirements. For organizations with content that requires management components different from traditional CMS solutions, specialty systems may be the answer.

InterWoven MediaBin

MediaBin is a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution used by marketing organizations to manage large amounts of digital assets (Images, Movies, Music, Collateral Templates, etc) and marketing content used to promote products and brands. With MediaBin, extended marketing teams easily catalog, manage, transform, and distribute digital assets, including photographs and logos, audio and video, datasheets and ads, presentations and documents.


SumTotal Learning Content Management system (LCMS)

Formed from the merger of Click2Learn and Docent, the SumTotal Enterprise Suite helps organizations manage the content used to educate audiences such as employees, partners, and customers. This robust system provides friendly tools for managing learning content such as movies, manuals, and presentations. This system not only focuses on sharing information, but also improving productivity.


Custom Content Management Systems

All Content Management Systems require developers to perform configuration and integration before they can be used by an organization. In many cases unique requirements or budgetary constraints make out of the box Content Management Solutions inappropriate for achieving the organization’s business goals. Custom CMS solutions enable organizations to satisfy specific critical requirements and maintain a high level of future flexibility. There are development tools such as Rich Text Editors (WYSIWYG), workflow components, and versioning libraries that make custom CMS development the right solution for many organizations. OpenSource CMS solutions, such as OpenCMS and the Apache Cocoon Project allow developers to customize pre-built CMS functions to fit specific needs. Examples of Custom CMS solutions and components include:

  • http://cocoon.apache.org/
  • http://webword.biz/
  • http://www.opencms.org
  • </ul>

    Entry Level Content Management Systems

    Smaller organizations with simple objectives require low priced CMS solutions that fit the basic requirements for managing websites without related IT costs. Systems in this category require a high level of easy-to-use interfaces that do not necessitate classes and technical support for implementation. Most CMS solutions in this category will lack complex workflows, detailed reporting, clustering, and/or personalization. Instead these systems will focus on the core functions such as editing and publishing. Entry level systems have come along way in the past two years and are a great fit for a wide variety of organizational needs.

    Macromedia DreamWeaver/Contribute

    This excellent package provides friendly editors with simplified tools for deploying data to public websites. DreamWeaver has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the best WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors on the market. Advanced configurations allow developers to create security around template components to ensure specific users and editing only the content that pertains to them. Contribute brings workflow and publishing components to the DreamWeaver editor to enable users with varying levels of technical backgrounds to manage web content.



    Ektron was one of the first companies to bring Rich Text Editing to the web and has since created several components to perform common content management functions. Ektron has such a demonstrated lead in the WYSIWYG market that many of the higher end CMS tools mentioned above have integration options for Ektron components. The company's entry-level software costs below $500 for five users, but this version comes without publication user/group permissioning and deployment scheduling.


    If you have any questions about CMS options or need assistance in researching your company’s CMS requirements, please contact us at mtsai@extractable.com.

    - Ming Tsai

    Additional Resources - CMS Vendors

    • Atomz
    • BroadVision
    • Documentum
    • Ektron
    • FatWire
    • FileNet
    • IBM WebSphere
    • Ingeniux
    • Interwoven
    • Lotus Workplace Web Content Management
    • Macromedia
    • Microsoft
    • Midgard
    • Objectify
    • OpenCMS
    • Oracle
    • PaperThin
    • Percussion
    • Red Bridge Interactive
    • SimplyCMS
    • SiteWorks Pro
    • Stellent
    • SumTotal Systems
    • Vignette
    • WebWord
    • Zope
    • </ul>

      Other useful sites:

      1. http://www.Cms-forum.org
      2. http://www.cmswatch.com
      3. </ol>