This article introduces content infrastructure and Content as a service as a way to think about content management. Whereas the traditional web CMS like WordPress and Drupal try to be the single solution for both managing content and creating websites, CaaS vendors focus purely on content management without taking opinions about the output — which still could be websites, but also print, mobile apps, and other devices and channels.
In this article you will learn what CaaS is, how it compares to the existing CMS, in which contexts it makes sense to go CaaS, and see some projects built on top of CaaS. We'll also touch on topics such as reasoning why CaaS appeared and how to properly evaluate CaaS solutions. We'll also explain the content of content infrastructure and how that fits into the CaaS approach.
Content infrastructure is the modern way to put content management in your stack. Building apps, websites and every other digital solution imaginable using content infrastructure is what Contentful is all about.
Creating first class user experiences that runs on any platform is now only a matter of integrating content infrastructure in your developer workflow.
Content infrastructure requires a much smaller administrative burden than a headless WordPress installation. And it goes without saying that the same is true for a headless Drupal setup.
Developers access content stored within the content infrastructure via API-calls. Working with assets via the APIs is a two-way street — assets can be both downloaded and uploaded to the content infrastructure using your favorite stack.
A key feature of content infrastructure is that it’s a hosted solution fronted by a stable Content Delivery Network (CDN). The architecture guarantees low response times for any content and gives a worry-free platform for your digital assets. So now you can spend more time coding and less time babysitting a monolithic CMS.
CaaS is as a way to label content infrastructure in a familiar X-as-a-service kind of way. When it comes to API calls and delivery of content, there are no significant differences between the CaaS and content infrastructure.
This article will use content infrastructure and CaaS interchangeably.
If CaaS is that good, why isn't everyone using it already? Well, mostly because it's good in some contexts (see the section above) and not so splendid in others.
For example, it's not as good for setting up a personal blog. Or it's not as good when you know that you only want to do a website, and that is it. Because the effort is not worth it: there are other solutions, much cheaper and less complicated, for these particular scenarios.
More and more developers encounter the need to have a CaaS solution. Those are either mobile app developers who need a backend to feed their apps with content, or front-end developers who expect to interact with an API. While those technologies have been around for some time, they are becoming increasingly popular, driving the demand for CaaS.
There are three essential parts: the editing interface (typically a web app), the CMS infrastructure capabilities, and the development ecosystem.
Notably, popular open source CMSes such as WordPress and Drupal are moving in the CaaS direction, mainly by introducing plugins (Drupal RESTful web services, WordPress REST API) which add RESTfulness on top of the existing setup. Drupal 8 will also include RESTful API in its core. Running such a configuration in the cloud makes for a semi-CaaS solution.
However, while this change adds something which was missing before, the architecture of the system remains the same – web-based, page-centric. There are still no good ways to structuring content in a custom way, there are scaling issues, and content and presentation continue living together.
In some cases, it might be sufficient to go with a web CMS with an add-on on top, but we have experienced that problems arise on the way.