Monday, February 19, 2007

WCMSaaS: Web Content Management Served as a Service

Hello, my name is Crockett Dunn, and I build web applications on hosted content management platforms. My company is Gold Zeppelin, and I primarily use EXP Web to offer hosted WCM (Web Content Management) to clients. Very recently I've begun toying with DotNetNuke in an effort to remain vendor neutral.

Saas, or, "What Happened to all of the Application Service Providers?"

Hosted software solutions are the way to go. Before the dot-com bubble burst, this was a hot idea: the concept of the Application Service Provider. Now the same (still great) idea is hot again, and it has the sassy new name, "Software as a Service," or, "Saas" for short.

This was a great idea then, and it is still a great idea now. Inevitable, really. The idea is basically this: you pay for use of the software but do not own the product or the means to "run" the software. Remember "dumb terminals?" And remember when we were all excited about "thin clients," (before thick clients got so cheap)? It's a similar concept, organized slightly differently.

Consider an automobile industry analogy: why buy the car, service station, and mechanics when you can pay monthly to use a car. Not only would you receive unlimited access to drive the car, but you also have it constantly serviced or even replaced. Your licensing fee would also ensure your car was always running with a full tank of gas, to save you the time of stopping at filling stations.

Moreover, would you rather "build your own" insurance PLAN, by purchasing extra, "backup" cars, service stations, and mechanics, or might you purchase an insurance policy (a guarantee of services) from experts?

To sum it up, rather than owning the car, you would own the right to always have the latest car model, access to automobile experts, and the car would essentially service itself and fill its own tank?

This may seem like a stretch, but owning a software product, and server hardware, and server software, and backup software, and disaster recovery plan, and uptime/redundancy solution, and expert administrators- that is as crazy and generalized as keeping your own auto factory and home-grown insurance policy just to be able to drive a car.

Software as a Service is the inevitable next step in the evolution of how we pay to derive value and utility from intellectual property.

What's the deal with Content Management?

Now that we're all on the same page, Let's talk quickly about content management. Specifically, web content management (WCM), more specifically, hosted web content management (a Saas model), with my company, Gold Zeppelin.

First, what the heck is content management? My experience has been that a good starting place for this concept is to convey to a prospective client the value of separation of design from content. The business argument is that this will free resources to perform other, more valuable work, rather than being buried in HTML for weeks.

Migration to a content management platform will also enable your business to be more focused with its future web efforts. For example, you will never again have to work on something as broad and nebulous as “the website,” or, "the new website."

From now on finances and human resources can be properly allocated towards specifics, examples of which include or new content contribution, visual redesign, navigational hierarchical re-organization, or my favorite, dynamic web application development (smart search, form submission, online registration, view my info, credit card payments, auctions, accepting donations, etc.).

EXP Web will serve as a foundation from which all of these tasks can be more easily performed. It is a web platform.

Here are the fancy presentations:

Thanks for reading.

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