Content infrastructure vs. headless and decoupled CMS

Learn how content infrastructure and Contentful is different from a headless CMS

Content infrastructure vs. headless and decoupled CMS

The CMS (Content Management System) has been around for years. And the CMS has long been the go-to choice for millions of developers by using platforms like Drupal and Wordpress. But now there’s a new way to manage content — content infrastructure.

This article will explain what a CMS traditionally was and how they evolved into today’s headless CMS architecture. And while a headless CMS still has its benefits, you’re about to learn why content infrastructure is the way forward to a modern and platform agnostic way of building software.

What is a headless CMS?

First a little history: the CMS as we know was created back when users browsed the internet using desktop browsers. And with the growing popularity of the internet came a content explosion. The CMS seemed for a long time like the best way to handle content. But as technology shifted away from desktop and page-centric browsing to become more mobile, the CMS started to suffer from technical debt.

One way of trying to combat this problem was to invent the headless content management system. The head gone missing is, in this case, the presentation layer. So when the developer pulled content from the headless CMS into her application, she did it using API-calls. Worth knowing is that headless CMS is the very same thing as a decoupled CMS.

But adding API functionality to an old-school monolithic CMS was a band-aid repair: it would stop the blood from pouring out but not heal the bleeding wound. And the quick fix did nothing to reduce the underlying technical complexity of a CMS initially designed for a past era.

Say hello to content infrastructure

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 CMS option like a headless WordPress installation. And it goes without saying that the same is true for a headless Drupal setup.

How does content infrastructure work?

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 core feature of content infrastructure is that it’s a hosted solution fronted by a robust Content Delivery Network (CDN). This architecture guarantees low response times for any kind of 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.

Why is content infrastructure a better choice than a headless CMS?

Content infrastructure is the preferred choice over a headless content management system when you:

  • Publish content on multiple platforms and screen sizes
  • Need a redundant and resilient CDN for your content
  • Don’t want to be burdened by technical debt
  • Want improved security for your content
  • Have existing developer workflows that need to integrate with content


Compared to traditional headless CMS options, content infrastructure is the future of integrating content management into your developer workflow. Regardless of your stack, content infrastructure provides a way to get your high-quality content delivered to the digital experiences you create.

Content infrastructure allows you to scale up as your business and your apps grow in popularity. Backed by a solid CDN, content infrastructure is designed never let you down when it comes to speed and reliability.

What’s next

We suggest that you sign up for Contentful today and start building the next generation of content-driven apps in no time. Signing up for a developer edition account is free, and we promise not to spam you. By creating your developer account you can start out small and then scale up as your project grows.

We also suggest that you read our five minute guide to Contentful. It’s short introduction to creating a blog like app backed by content infrastructure. The GitHub repo for the five minute guide to Contentful can be found here

Discover Contentful

Learn how Contentful works

Read about our content management infrastructure, our flexible APIs and our global CDN.

View key features

See how our customers use Contentful

From apps and sites to digital signage and iBeacon campaigns — we deliver content everywhere.

Explore other customers