Optimization glossary

Content management infrastructure

What is content management infrastructure?

Content management infrastructure (CMI) is both a process and a platform for managing and often distributing content.

CMI as a platform requires centralizing and universalizing all of your digital content production to seamlessly integrate into your company's DevOps workflow.

It is also the process of integrating content management into your development stack to facilitate content personalization and speed up omnichannel distribution.

The benefits of an integrated content management infrastructure

Today, customers expect a personalized, seamless, omnichannel experience across all of their devices and apps. Your developers, however, are likely using a variety of software and programming languages to produce your omnichannel presence. Serving customers across a multitude of devices and app stores requires fine tuning for different operating systems, screen sizes and hardware limitations.

A content management infrastructure solution like Optimizely's Agile CMS seamlessly integrates into your entire DevOps stack. Developers can use a diverse set of backend APIs to access and import your digital content into any type of digital delivery solution -- regardless of software or hardware.

What's wrong with a content management system (CMS)?

Over 78% of websites today are running on a CMS. But not all CMSs are the same. There are two broad categories of web-based CMS -- coupled CMS and headless CMS. Which CMS infrastructure your company chooses can make or break your customer's omnichannel experience.

Coupled content management system

Coupled CMS (a.k.a., Legacy or Traditional CMS) is efficient for creating and delivering responsive web content. Coupled CMS platforms are monolithic. They manage both back-end content, as well as front-end display.

All content is centralized in the Coupled CMS. Content creators generate and edit text inside the system. Editors check to see if the content is designed to meet branding needs and approve it. Designers create the CMS public-face -- e.g., branding and site design. Administrators and marketers decide when and how to push the content to the website.

The drawbacks of coupled CMS platforms include:

●      Browser-focused content delivery

●      Sub-optimal ability to export content to other channels

●      Limited API integrations

●      CMS plugins can slow site loading

Headless content management system

Headless CMS is focused on content management, not delivery. Its raison d'être is to manage content creation and make it accessible to your developers for distribution. It is "headless" because it lacks its own tools for publishing content. Front-end design is left to your channel experts and developers.

Headless CMS solves many of the customer experience limitations Coupled CMS possesses including:

●      Flexible delivery options

●      Better workflow integration with APIs

●      Allows developers to control user experience and delivery options

Cons of using open-source, out-of-the-box CMS solutions

There is a cost to using headless CMS. Small companies may not be able to afford web and app developers. This infrastructure works best for medium-sized companies developing omnichannel experiences. Small companies focusing only on web traffic may find Coupled CMS better meets their needs.

Large companies with no resource constraints can also run into Headless CMS issues. Headless CMS platforms are certainly more robust than Coupled CMS options, but given how consumers' tastes and expectations have radically changed to expecting an omnichannel experience all the time, they are starting to show their web-based limits.  

Headless CMS functionality is still hampered by website-focused organization and inflexible content restrictions. For example, most headless CMS platforms still automatically force digital content into a page structure -- an http-based, organizational hangover. The organizational structure of how CMS digital content is stored or delivered is often one-size-fits-all, regardless of how a developer would like to use it.

The benefits of content as a service (CaaS) agile CMS

Cloud-based, Agile CMS solutions are less monolithic than both types of CMS covered above. They offer a host of benefits over the competition for both content creators and developers. One leading Agile CMS, according to Forrester Wave, is Optimizely's CMS. The platform is cloud-native and omnichannel-focused. It separates itself from competing platforms by focusing on content as a service (CaaS).

The transformation of content management infrastructure

CaaS is the process of delivering exactly the content needed to developers using back-end API calls. CaaS-based content management infrastructure gives developers the freedom to drive personalized, just-in-time, content creation via native code.

There are three methods that CaaS-based agile CMS offers that standard web-based CMS don't:

1. Control over content structure

Digital content is accessible and malleable for use in any type of channel. Retrieving data stored in permeable chunks allows for easier content personalization than dealing with CMS content forced into large page blobs.

2. Channel-independent management and content retrieval

API retrieval allows developers to access data using different, channel-specific code. This results in more efficient retrieval and speedier content delivery across channels. Built to integrate into your workflow stack, content can be retrieved to create print, email, ebook, blog, infographic, video streaming or additional distribution channels.

3. CaaS is cloud-based and scalable

CaaS is always served in the cloud ­-- as it is a subcategory of cloud-based software as a service (SaaS). Content is no longer stored on your own servers. The cloud vendor can create, maintain and scale the infrastructure for users -- lowering administrative costs and oversight.

Required content management infrastructure components

There are three components that your cloud-based content management infrastructure needs to offer:


The platform must allow your content architects to design their own CMS content models ­-- i.e., determine how data is grouped and stored. It needs to provide an intuitive, web-based user interface, allowing content creators to develop, update and collaborate.


The platform needs to be reliable, scalable and offer multiple delivery options -- accessible delivery in both high-cost and low-quality network areas. It should be deployable on a CDN to increase content personalization and delivery times.

You also need to make sure your solution offers comprehensive vendor support and documentation to quickly troubleshoot issues and help your organization integrate CaaS into your stack. Make sure it has a diverse and open API ecosystem suitable for all your content creation, delivery and management needs as well.

Channel development

The best solution will offer source code for demo apps and templating. There's no need to start developing channel delivery from scratch. Avoid platforms that fail to allow third-party tool integration. Finally, your solution needs to be open to your entire DevOps workflow. Make sure the SDKs and API libraries that you use in your existing tech stack are accounted for in your solution.