CMS in the Cloud: Advantages and Starting Tips

Innovation CMS
by Kevin Rahe

Table of Content:

  • Cloud @ Business: is not a question of whether or not, but of when and how
  • Cloud @ Business: the engine of efficient business models
  • Advantages of FirstSpirit Cloud for CMS and DXP

A Few Tips Before Getting Started

  1. Make sure integration and interoperability are at the top of your priority list when picking your SaaS solution!
  2. Make easier decisions through service instead of purchase!
  3. Expect agile budgets!
  4. The cloud enables new forms of monetization!
  5. How to start? Lift & shift or migration or new building?

Cloud @ Business: is not a question of whether or not, but of when and how

Cloud Shift Proportion by Category (Source: Gartner, August 2018)

Businesses have been moving data to the cloud for some time now. Today however, increased competition is forcing companies to concentrate more energy on their core business, and less on running servers, hosting software, deploying software updates, etc making Software as a Service (SaaS) a good option. With their specialized know-how, SaaS vendors--which run in the Cloud--offer software more cheaply and reliably than on premises solution providers, and also offer a lower total cost of ownership and reduce risk.

Many companies have long since decided on the question of "whether or not" (to use the cloud) and are determining which cloud services and which cloud technology they should be using for which application. Internationally, the situation is similar: according to a Gartner study, the cloud share of global IT spending will increase in all areas over the next few years (cumulative to 28 percent of total spending).

Cloud @ Business: the engine of efficient business models

All major companies are working hard on new business models and digital upgrades as a part of their digital transformation initiatives--many of them based on flexible cloud solutions. One good example is our e-commerce customer Karstadt. Karstadt aims to become one of the strongest omnichannel retailers in Germany by 2020, leveraging their integrated Headless CMS and e-commerce solution (FirstSpirit + Salesforce Commerce Cloud) to get them there.

The cloud-driven FirstSpirit Digital Experience Platform (DXP) and Content Management System (CMS) will contribute to this by helping the company create experiences that optimally inform, advise and inspire customers--on the Web, mobile and digitally in the Karstadt branches.

With Software as a Service, you can upgrade your marketing IT in the cloud, realize new business models, and thereby make it even easier to acquire new customers.

"For the goal of becoming the strongest connected omnichannel marketplace, the combination of content and commerce is essential to our success. e-Spirit impressed us with its FirstSpirit Digital Experience Platform, which is available as a cloud solution, has significantly expanded Salesforce functionality, and has many relevant reference customers. This allows us to maintain all non-product content very efficiently on, to quickly set up microsites and to service digital offers in the store via digital signage."

Marco Werner, Chief Digital Officer, Karstadt

Advantages of FirstSpirit Cloud for CMS and DXP

The FirstSpirit DXP has been used as a SaaS solution at many large global organizations, such as L'Oreal for one. Are cloud solutions also highly prioritized in your company? Or are cloud naysayers still prevailing in your environment? The following eight arguments should help with the internal persuasion. Here are eight distinct advantages to our cloud approach:
  • Fast time to market: Long, drawn-out on-premises installations are eliminated. Your CMS infrastructure can be set up within hours, always with the latest features and functions.
  • Cloud-to-cloud power instead of silo: Your overall cloud strategy will be more successful with any system that is integrated in the cloud. FirstSpirit Cloud blends in perfectly with your cloud infrastructure.
  • Project development out-of-the-box: FirstSpirit Cloud gives you an easy-to-use digital experience platform with CMS, personalization and omnichannel enablement, plus quality-tested integrations, processes and tools that ensure a high quality project for better results.
  • Maximum performance, security, availability and compliance: FirstSpirit Cloud provides you with maximum security and resilience through multi-layered security protocols, periodic penetration testing and dozens of compliance programs.
  • Guaranteed data locations: You decide the region or location where your data will be housed. We guarantee that your data does not leave the designated regions. The data centers used by FirstSpirit Cloud are audited according to the latest data protection laws and are audited on a regular basis.
  • Usable in every cloud: FirstSpirit Cloud is multi-cloud-enabled (cloud-agnostic). We offer the right cloud operating model for any cloud provider.
  • Editorial freedom: Editors do not need to be connected to a server in the corporate network. They can work remotely, securely, and without VPN or other restrictions using the latest features for maximum ease of use.
  • SaaS pricing is performance-based or usage-oriented: You pay only for what you use. The calculation depends on the use case and the actual added value of the system--and not a product--for cost savings. The costs are always traceable, easy to plan and can be easily explained internally.

Of course, there are pros and cons to choosing SaaS. You get the FirstSpirit DXP as a fully preconfigured platform, which you cannot change or modify. If you are used to working with on-premises solutions, you should think carefully before you make the leap to SaaS. All SaaS customers work on the same, always up-to-date version of the software. This of course eliminates expenses for updates and security. The latest features, patches and the like are included with Software as a Service. And with a high degree of standardization, SaaS also provides the agility needed to create customized solutions.

"With the FirstSpirit digital experience platform from the cloud, businesses can achieve speed and cost advantages. For example, updates or new features are available faster to users in the e-Spirit cloud model. Cost planning is safer and no dedicated infrastructure or personnel resources are needed to run and maintain the application. e-Spirit also offers a development environment including a CI / CD pipeline. This is integrated into the SaaS offer so that partners and customers can concentrate on the project implementation. Regardless of the standardization, we still recommend that cloud projects define their goals and requirements precisely in order to make the most of FirstSpirit."

Monika Schütz, Business Unit Manager Web Experience Management, ARITHNEA

A Few Tips Before Getting Started

Here are a few things you should you watch out for before you begin moving to the Cloud, even if your FirstSpirit Cloud project is already up and running.

1. Make sure integration and interoperability are at the top of your priority list when picking your SaaS solution!

These are probably the most important requirements for digital ecosystems. Ecosystems require close interaction with customers and seamless collaboration with business partners. Progress today is no longer measured simply by the individual performance of one company. More and more, companies work cooperatively worldwide with a growing number of contributors. Almost all goods and services are today a joint effort and the cloud is at the center.

What does this mean for your IT? No company can afford to work in silos and focus on just one technology provider. You need systems or a platform that has reliable, native integration points. Many providers fail at these integration points. Ask your cloud software vendor how his cloud solution is working with other cloud providers, especially those you care about. Let practice examples prove this. In particular, make sure that:

  • IT reliability through a “Continuity Management Cloud Only” is implemented
  • the scaling and multi-client capability of the software is given
  • the software is easy to monitor

For example, if you're a reseller, cloud integration with a leading e-commerce platform such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud could be of interest to you. The FirstSpirit Starter Kit for Salesforce Commerce Cloud enables you to offer content-driven shopping experiences using our headless CMS in your new e-commerce shop in no time at all. The starter pack features a certified integration with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, plus content management and omnichannel marketing features and optional AI-powered personalization. Ready-made content modules such as photo galleries, blogs and shoppable videos are already pre-configured and can be used immediately for a unique user experience. Only with such maximum integration capability can you unlock the true power of a cloud ecosystem.

2. Make easier decisions through service instead of purchase!

Software as a Service, in contrast to on-premises, often leads to changed purchasing processes. Software investments in the five- to seven-digit range are usually subject to different internal policies and processes than as-a-service solutions which you can procure for a few thousand dollars. You can make decisions and go to market faster with SaaS solutions. Positive side effect: SaaS providers tend to attach even greater importance to the customer satisfaction because SaaS customers can decide to end the service at any time.

3. Expect agile budgets!

Cloud models to a large extent are success-based or consumption-dependent. For example, website hosting is billed using gigabytes of data transfer. As with electricity or car sharing, you pay for the actual benefit. This is gratifying at first, but also requires you to rethink the way you do budget calculations. Let's say you start off with a small web shop with a new product or service and pay a small amount monthly. If after a few weeks demand is booming and your business is skyrocketing, the cost of cloud services will also increase. Fixed budgeting won’t work in this scenario. SaaS solutions require you to check and regularly monitor usage, and use agile forecasting.

"The SaaS solution provides everything for a successful, international appearance. However, relevant parameters such as unique users and monthly transfer volumes must be scrutinized, as they are the driving factors in the costs of hosting. If the customer project requires more dynamism and if a large number of interfaces are to be connected, then one should consider the on-premise version of the FirstSpirit CMS. Here, the customer and we as a service provider have even more freedom to respond even more flexibly to customer requirements and project conditions."

Torsten Godzisz, Technical Consultant FirstSpirit, Logic Joe

4. The cloud enables new forms of monetization!

At the same time, the cloud offers you the opportunity to open up new business opportunities. The FirstSpirit DXP makes it easy to distribute data to affiliates, partners and customers and keep it up-to-date. You can then monetize the data either directly or indirectly through cost savings or an increased level of service and thus increased customer satisfaction.

5. How to start? Lift & shift or migration or new building?

You need to consider which approach is the right one for moving to the cloud. Are the integration points or individual adjustments to the product, for example, cloud-ready connectivity? Is the technology stack supported? "Lift and Shift" projects, where projects are more or less migrated, are usually the least expensive and least risky approach, but also offer the least added value. A migration provides for adaptation efforts, but the project is already prepared for the future, which pays off in the long term. In some cases, the migration can be more complicated than restarting completely. For this you should seek advice from sales or our partner network before starting, and do sufficient piloting and testing. Ask your e-Spirit representative for an offer for a POC / pilot phase.

Conclusion: Using cloud software has evolved from being a good defensive player (saving costs, concentrating on the core business) to being an entrepreneurial multi-talent who can also score goals (more convincing experiences, new business models). Would you like to know more?

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About the author

Kevin Rahe
Head of CloudService
+49 231 47777-234