CMS replatforming made easy with Contentful

How to future-proof your content platform with a composable approach that’s less painful than traditional replatforming projects – and more cost effective.
September 26, 2023


You purchase a new content management system, spend months jamming your content into different templates, and as soon as it's live (sometimes even before it goes live) you spot limitations that will eventually lead to another CMS replatforming. Sound familiar?

In this post, I’ll show you how to future-proof your content platform with a composable approach that’s less painful than traditional replatforming projects and more cost effective than you might think. Get ready to make this your last CMS replatforming project ever.

What is replatforming?

Replatforming is the technical term for moving from an older system to a newer system. This typically means moving from a legacy system that could be monolithic or hosted on-premise to a modern, cloud-native, microservices architecture. 

When we talk about CMS replatforming, we usually mean moving from multiple, channel-specific CMSes to a modern content platform that can manage and deliver content for any digital touchpoint. Unifying siloed content makes managing content across channels more efficient, and opens up new functionality that enables sophisticated use cases, such as omnichannel experiences.

Replatforming vs. rehosting vs. refactoring

Before we move on, it’s worth clarifying some terms that can be confused with replatforming, particularly if you are moving to a new platform as part of a cloud migration strategy.  

  • Rehosting is when you move an on-premises application to a cloud environment, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

  • Refactoring is the process of optimizing an existing code base without changing the frontend functionality.

Without getting into the technical details, the key difference is that replatforming improves functionality by moving to a new platform. Rehosting and refactoring seek to improve how an existing application works.

Why replatform your CMS?

Companies accumulate CMSes as they add digital channels, expand into new markets, and acquire or launch more brands. Eventually this channel-centric, siloed approach reaches a tipping point where multiple CMSes make it hard to manage content efficiently. 

In short, there are three reasons to consider CMS replatforming:

  • Multiple CMSes and siloed content are slowing you down. 

  • You have a business need your current CMS can’t meet.

  • Your current system is at end of life.

This tipping point is different for every company. For example, Vodafone UK had six CMSes when they decided to consolidate content with Contentful. For other companies, an audit reveals how costly and inefficient content operations are or their legacy platforms lack the functionality to support new use cases. 

Four benefits of CMS replatforming

Re-architecting from legacy CMSes to a modern content platform offers more benefits than just consolidation. It opens up a new way of working for content creators, marketers, and developers that can help transform your business.

  1. Attract and retain talented developers. You might not think about developers when you think about content, but your legacy CMS might be driving top talent away. Legacy CMSes require system-specific languages and workflows that developers don’t want to learn when they could use a modern, language-agnostic platform to build any digital experience they want. Choosing a platform that enables developers to use the tools they love helps companies stand out in the competition for developer talent. 

  2. Accelerate time to market. Older CMSes require a lot of time-consuming back and forth between content teams and developers. This makes it hard to react quickly to market changes. For example, several customers started using Contentful during the pandemic when they realized they needed to update shipping times and store hours daily. Those use cases highlighted how much faster working with Contentful was, and many chose to replatform their websites and other digital touchpoints as well.

  3. Reduce costs and increase return on investment. Tapping the brakes on production to undergo painful upgrades, on-premise hosting costs, and monolithic solutions that charge for features you don’t need all undermine the ROI of your technology investments. Replatforming to a composable content platform, enables you to start with the components your business needs now and scale to add new features without painful upgrades. As cloud services, these SaaS applications also eliminate costs associated with on-premise hosting and let you take advantage of the cloud. 

  4. Empower teams to focus on adding value. Legacy CMSes tie developers and content creators up in a million little tasks — developers are buried in content requests, writers are copying and pasting content, and it's a struggle just to keep everything consistent. Modern content platforms automate many of these tasks, support more efficient workflows, and reduce developer dependence. Developers and content creators are free to focus on building new user experiences, launching creative campaigns, and building things that add value to the business.

Companies overestimate the risks of CMS replatforming and underestimate the benefits

Composable technology makes replatforming far less risky than the rip and replace methods most people associate with replatforming projects. In the past, replatforming from one solution to another meant a multi-year project plan that had to account for all the people and systems that would be affected. Everything would happen behind the scenes and then you’d flip the switch and hope the new system worked. 

Composable content platforms reduce the risks

Replatforming to a composable content platform is different. Contentful’s Composable Content Platform can integrate with, or run in parallel to, your existing tools. This means you don’t have to shut down the system you’ve been using all at once. You can move the pieces that aren’t working well on your current system to the new platform and leave the rest alone until you’re ready. There’s no big bang, just a gradual shift from the old to the new.

Time to value is faster

Replatforming with a step-by-step migration process mitigates risks, and enables companies to accelerate time to value. There’s no down time. As you move use cases to the new platform, you immediately start to see value. Replatforming becomes an iterative process with increasing returns instead of a one-off change that immediately starts depreciating.

Composable tools are cost-effective 

Switching from a big suite that “does it all” to microservices is uncharted territory for most finance teams. They wonder if it’s cost effective to replace a single system with multiple solutions. Or why you need a content platform when your existing suite includes a CMS. 

One of our large retail customers did a cost-benefit analysis comparing traditional CMSes, headless CMSes, and Contentful’s Composable Content Platform. The results speak for themselves.

“After deployment of Contentful, the company achieved a 702 percent ROI, with the software paying for itself less than a month and a half after launch. The investment increased revenue, increased employee productivity, and improved the customer experience.” Contentful ROI Case Study: Global Retailer, Nucleus Research

Restructuring how content flowed through different channels seemed like a big risk, but in retrospect the retailer realized they could have been more aggressive in expanding the approach across markets.

Examples of CMS replatforming strategies

Composable tools, like Contentful’s Composable Content Platform, enable companies to take a different approach to CMS replatforming. 

Replatforming with a strangler pattern

The strangler approach was first described by Martin Fowler who observed how the strangler fig slowly overtakes its host plant. In this approach, you’re not turning off the old system and turning on the new. Instead, you start with a small use case and gradually move more content to the new system until use of the old system naturally dies out.

The Westwing Group, a premier furniture shop with a magazine and multiple websites localized by country, is using this approach. They came to us with a single use case: a header bar where they advertise weekly or daily campaigns — new designer collections, seasonal decor, etc. Changing this header was a challenge with their in-house platform. Contentful solved this initial use case, and now Westwing is thinking about how they can move product listing pages, product pages, and other content to the new platform. 

This might be your learning MVP. You start by adopting microservices for new features and changes.

Replatforming in parallel 

Composable tools enable companies to move content to a new platform as part of a larger project plan. With composable tools, it’s possible to manage multiple aspects of a project in parallel. For example, when the HABA Family Group wanted to revamp the ecommerce stack behind it’s JAKO-O children’s brand they were able to update the ERP, PIM, and content platforms in parallel. HABA Family Group partnered with multiple vendors to complete projects in parallel and bring the final vision to marketer faster.

Learn more about how HABA worked with a mixed team of vendors to deliver big results faster.

Modernize the way you manage content with Contentful

Contentful’s Composable Content Platform modernizes the way companies create, manage, and distribute the content that powers their digital experiences. And we’re changing what CMS replatforming looks like. No more long waits before the platform goes live and you start seeing value.

Whether you start with one use case or are ready to migrate all of your content, our solutions experts and technical partners can help you develop a replatforming strategy that unlocks immediate value and delivers the functionality you need over time.

Ready to see how easy it is to start moving content to Contentful? Request a personalized demo today.

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