By: Rita Lambros-Segur, M.H.

Microsoft is very active in the CMS (or content management system) market. For Microsoft .Net shops, it makes sense to buy Microsoft's CMS. But for others - and those using Java - rival CMSs are just as good, or even better. Those needing multi-site, multi-audience and multi-language capabilities may want proof that Microsoft's offering can scale up from departmental level appropriately.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has Sharepoint as part of its CMS, which caters for unstructured data management. This could be the answer to meeting your new regulatory requirements on archiving and reporting.

With so much on offer in the burgeoning and ambitious mid-tier CMS marketplace, vendors' USPs are wide-ranging, making it hard to compare different approaches to content management sensibly, and to compare like with like. Reference sites offer a practical demonstration of vendors' USPs.

Case I: Tate Gallery

When Tate Gallery looked for a mid-tier CMS to produce the content for a new bi-monthly events guide, and enhance its existing global website and internal communication via its corporate intranet, it chose Rhythmyx 5, an ECMS solution from Percussion Software.

Percussion cites its main USPs as being technical and management strategies it calls 'decoupled delivery', 'intelligent relationships' and 'active assembly'.

"We separate content from its delivery platform, so it can be re-used to maximum effect," says Peter Atkinson, Percussion UK sales manager. "We also help information professionals manage the relationships between content held across multiple sites when it needs to be amended, updated or removed. Also, our 'active assembly' strategy is all about enabling a non-technical end-user to take control of their content with minimal training."

Tate went through an intensive vendor selection process. In the end, it chose Rhythmyx because it offers a predictable licensing model for multi-channel delivery, and supports multi-lingual websites. Tate also judged Rhythmyx to be easy to use and able to offer efficient content reuse.

"We wanted to improve our internal content management procedures, increase the speed and efficiency of content updates and reduce time and resources spent on content administration," says Simon Grant, head of information systems at Tate.

Case II: North Norfolk District Council

Other impulses are at work driving customers in different directions. North Norfolk District Council is looking to extend its future services to the public via its portal. As part of its Reach Out e-government project, designed to improve local communities' access to essential services, the Council needed to make it easier for staff and local residents to publish new material on the portal.

Graham Bull, North Norfolk's e-government officer, looked for a flexible, cost-effective CMS that required little end-user training. He also wanted to turn North Norfolk into a truly virtual community. The CMS had to seamlessly integrate with the Council's e-government applications developed by Capita, and its functionality had to be extendable to any local community group wanting to build its own mini website.

The Council chose RedDot's CMS as the backbone for the Reach Out project. "RedDot has been critical to the success of Reach Out on all fronts," says Bull. "Virtually anyone can use its sophisticated tools to create great web pages, and its browser-based interface means we can roll out access to any web-connected PC. It's also a highly affordable solution."

A growing number of community groups and parish councils have been able to use RedDot to update their web content. The easy integration of complex database and XML feeds has meant that Capita's e-government applications have been integrated into the portal without hassle.

Peter Aylward, UK managing director at RedDot Solutions, confirms: "The main USPs for our CMS are its ease of use, our advanced integrated digital asset management tool, our speed to implementation, and low total cost of ownership. With CMSs there's a fair match up of features between all mid-tier vendors. At the end of the day, it's not what you've got, it's how you do it, how you use it and how easy it is to use."

About the author:

Rita specializes in education that helps individuals make their own informed health choices for detoxification and potent, frequencied nourishment.

For the ultimate in Content Management, experience Traffic King Pro, with which you can publish and maintain thousands of quality websites (blogs and static pages) with the push of a button.

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