Content management system (CMS) upgrades can be costly. Consider the Drupal 8 upgrade. For a complex and large Drupal site, some experts estimate that the Drupal 8 upgrade could take up to 250 hours, a cost that could be difficult to manage for many organizations. And other, non-Drupal CMS platform upgrades can carry an equally high financial and resource allocation burden.
In addition to the substantial cost, CMS upgrades can come with a host of other challenges, including:
- A temporary loss of traffic.
- Duplication of content or missing content, particularly if custom fields are used.
- The Drupal 8 upgrade often requires Views to be manually created after migration because the architecture differs for Drupal 6 or 7.
- Custom Drupal modules must be rebuilt after migration.
- Multilingual sites often require manual migration.
- Some e-commerce sites may not be able to upgrade.
- Many other fields, categories, and settings may not migrate for specific sites, depending upon their current architecture and features.
Despite its high cost and other challenges, many companies still pony up their money and upgrade to take advantage of the latest functionality and improved technology. For example, the benefits and features of Drupal 8 are hard to resist: it can process huge amounts of unlimited data, it is open source, loads quickly and has a fast response time, is very secure, and is user-friendly.
These factors demonstrate that upgrading to Drupal 8 (or a similar upgrade on a different CMS) can be challenging and expensive. The good news is there are other options. Many companies might want to consider a headless CMS approach over upgrading their current CMS. A headless CMS offers a much simpler alternative that is far more cost effective and offers the full range of benefits that Drupal 8 includes. Let's compare the top touted features of both types of architecture:
- Mobile Capabilities: Drupal 8 is recognized for putting the mobile experience first, and the PC experience second. A headless CMS offers unmatched mobile customizations and has been the preferred option for developing a solid mobile experiences.
- Multilingual Benefits: The Drupal 8 upgrade offers integrated translation systems capable of installing any one of 100 languages. However, many headless CMS systems (such as Quintype) offer the same capabilities while still providing the additional benefits of a headless CMS.
- Performance Improvements: With Drupal 8, site speed optimization is enhanced by allowing content to be loaded from a cache, yet this is also available with some headless CMSs. Some headless CMSs also have templates that allow content to be published faster than before.
- Enhanced Configuration Management: Drupal 8 has an "export configuration" function that eliminates the need to use additional modules while deploying configurations from one environment to another. But as many companies have already experienced, this function has generated many challenges. On the other hand, many headless CMSs offer a much more reliable and user-friendly experience and they offer more control over how content appears on various devices.
- Theming and Website Services: Drupal's Twig is a theming tool that deploys website themes easily. However, depending on the front-end tool that is used with a headless CMS, there may be more theme and template options than those offered by Twig. With a headless CMS, developers can also access a wide range of website services with many of these options.
Other key advantages of a headless CMS include:
Enhanced Security. Headless CMS architecture comes with additional security options. You can set up permissions and user credentials to protect content from non-authorized users. And since the content publishing platform isn't accessible from the CMS database, the risk of a DDoS attack is reduced. Also, unlike most CMSs, you don't have to worry about endless security updates and other maintenance issues.
Accelerated Performance and Scalability. A headless CMS isolates the front-end system from the back-end system, so there is no down time needed for maintenance. This means that upgrades and customizations can be made with no impact on performance. You can also ensure compatibility with all devices by controlling the user experience from the back-end.
Increased Flexibility. Traditional CMS tools offer little flexibility when it comes to integrating new delivery formats. One of the main reasons for opting for a headless CMS is that its flexibility and functionality far exceeds the limits of many CMSs. A headless CMS ensures that you have the freedom to implement a front-end framework that meets the unique needs of your project, and its well-defined API makes content management easier and less time consuming.
Future-Proof Functionality. Since a headless CMS doesn't require a specific front-end framework, it can adapt to emerging technologies much more easily. This is already occurring, with many companies incorporating IoT devices, augmented reality, virtual reality, and other cutting-edge technologies to their content delivery scope. Since headless CMSs are agnostic to the front-end system, as these evolve and advance, the back-end will be ready to implement emerging technologies whenever you are.
Cost Savings. The cost savings associated with a headless CMS cannot be understated. These systems are much more cost effective to implement and maintain, as developers are only involved in major code changes and not on simple time to time corrections.
The Bottom Line
The rise in the popularity of headless content management systems is no accident. The benefits of a Drupal 8 (or similar) upgrade can be achieved using a headless CMS, which can outperform many traditional content management systems, is often much less expensive; is far easier to implement; and stands ready to adapt to future technologies. They simply offer a better option for most users.