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Traditional vs. Decoupled vs. Headless CMS – Know the Difference

Fri, Feb 12 2021, Zora Neale Hurston

To understand and, more importantly, value the differences between traditional, decoupled and headless CMS platforms, you first have to let go of the idea that content management systems (CMS) are purely a marketing-focused tool. Managing the production, design and distribution of content has become a major function of most marketing departments. The marketing team has grown used to doing it all and being enabled to design and deploy a web page within their team. This is the case for a traditional CMS deployment and within large organizations the lack of governance in this model can prove troublesome.

Traditional or "Coupled" CMS

There are clearly pros to doing it alone, but that ability has come with some rather serious drawbacks. For starters, pages need to conform to the database structure they sit atop. By extension, content needs to conform as well. Before you know it, content is being forced into structures that aren’t friendly, intuitive and may not perform to expectations. For all of the benefits of the WYSIWYG editor of the traditional CMS, it can only take an organization so far.

Keep in mind that the traditional model was established for websites and was able to modify with responsive themes to adequately manage mobile, but there’s a world of change coming that won’t be satisfied with these systems. Also, traditional systems require components beyond the database, creating challenges for management and scale.

Decoupled CMS

Demands for greater flexibility and scale have led to the concept of a decoupled CMS. In this world, marketers focus on creating content, and developers focus on the presentation of the content in the front-end. With this approach, the style and presentation of the content is not stored within the content, giving greater flexibility. Marketers do what they’re good at (content), and developers do what they know and love (coding).

The downside to a decoupled approach is that the moment a front-end is chosen, the limitations of that choice are then baked into the solution. So while you’ve solved some of the limitations of the traditional approach, you haven’t solved all of them. You’re still in a world that’s tightly coupled to the past.

This decoupled model, like the traditional model, hits its limitations when content needs to move quickly to cross-platform use cases.

Headless CMS or API-First CMS

The need to have systems with even greater flexibility both now and into the future has given rise to another option headless CMS. There is some overlap with decoupled CMS in the sense that it allows for healthy separation between marketing and development needs. However, a truly headless model allows for the limits imposed by any coupled front-end to be thrown out . You end up with centralized model for content but a flexible and better-performing model for where content can go.

This is because the Application Program Interface (API) approach of a headless CMS allows content creation to forever remain separate and distinct. Born in tandem with the explosion of API growth and the focus on microservice architecture, anything can call content from a headless CMS. Content becomes just another (but very important) service that can be called by a website, a mobile device, a software platform, an automobile, VR headset, Jumbotron or whatever tomorrow’s technology looks like.

Related Post

The modern Cloud Ecosystem

The hardware and software infrastructures of various companies have continuously transformed digitally over the years. There has been a massive migration from "on-premise" systems to cloud deployments. Cloud computing has spurred the technologically advancing industries and continues to be the fundamental factor of an organization's infrastructure and product deployment.

To be simply put in a sentence, cloud computing is the process of migrating computing resources such as servers, databases, software, etc., from a local location to a remote cloud location and accessing these resources over the internet.

When we hear of cloud computing, the major cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform pop into our heads. But cloud computing is not limited to just the services provided by these companies; it is much bigger than that. At its core level, cloud computing is simply a notion for any computing done over the internet, from the software you use on a daily basis to the infrastructure your favorite applications run on.

Presently, the interdependent components that work together to facilitate cloud services form a complex system, and this system is called the cloud ecosystem. In nature, an ecosystem includes living and non-living things that are connected to work together. In the same way, a cloud ecosystem consists of hardware and software but also includes cloud customers, cloud engineers, consultants, etc.

A public cloud provider is at the center of a cloud ecosystem. It could be a PaaS or IaaS provider. From the center radiating are the software companies that use the cloud provider's anchor platform. It also includes consultants and companies that have an alliance with the anchor provider. Since the companies overlap to make a complex ecosystem, there is no vendor lock-in.

New business models can be build using a cloud ecosystem. In a cloud ecosystem, it is easy to analyze data on how a new change or update might affect the other parts of the system. Cloud services are on a pay-as-you-go basis which, makes it efficient for customers. With all your resources set up in a cloud-based environment, it is easy to collaborate from anywhere in the world since these resources can be accessed over the internet, thus providing flexibility.

The future of business with AI

"Intelligence is not a skill itself, it's not what you can do, it's how well and how efficiently you can learn new things."
Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing out of research labs and into the business world. Its power is being harnessed by leading companies across numerous industries — from banks examining countless data points in seconds to detect fraud, to call centers deploying chatbots to enhance customer interactions.
The recognition of AI in mainstream society might be a new phenomenon, but, it is not a new concept. The field of artificial intelligence came into existence in the year 1956. It took decades of effort to make notable progress in developing an AI system to make it a technological reality. In the business world, artificial intelligence has extensive uses. Most of us daily interact with an artificially intelligent system.
Artificial intelligence is not a replacement for human intelligence, instead, it is a support system. Although AI might not be good at completing simple tasks, it is skilled at processing and analyzing huge sets of data as compared to a human brain. Due to this quick process, business leaders with the help of AI can effectively resolve problems and take prompt decisions.
Artificial intelligence is kind of the second coming of software," said Amir Husain, founder, and CEO of machine learning company SparkCognition. "It's a form of software that makes decisions on its own, that's able to act even in situations not foreseen by the programmers. Artificial intelligence has a wider latitude of decision-making ability as opposed to traditional software."
These traits make artificial intelligence extremely valuable throughout many industries. Artificial intelligence is a vital associate when it comes to looking for loopholes in computer network defenses. With the escalating complexity of cyberattacks, cybersecurity specialists require additional assistance and this where AI is playing a significant role. Perhaps the most superior tool developed might be AI, but just like everything else, it can have useful as well as unfavorable consequences. If AI can be put to use responsibly, transparently, and justly, it would be a boon for businesses advancing towards growth and building a better world.