While in Washington DC to moderate a meeting in the J. Boye CMS Expert Group, I had a longer conversation with our member Shawn Moore from software vendor Solodev. We spoke about tech trends, recent developments and how some of the big problems in the industry remain unsolved.
Solodev is a Florida-based content management vendor, which rebuilt their system from the ground up to be based on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2016. They are now working to redefine what it means to be a true cloud-based digital experience platform.
In our conversation Shawn highlighted these as some of the unsolved industry problems:
The time to implement remains very high as it still easily takes over 9 months to launch a new website using modern software. It certainly usually takes much more than a 30-day free trial to deliver value
Getting access to the software is one thing, but this is then followed by training, certification and then the months of implementation
The cost of specialised staff is high and many customers have experienced trained staff leaving quickly to get a higher salary somewhere else
Without claiming to have the solution for all of these, our conversation touched on several aspects that Shawn and his team are trying to address. It was refreshing to hear a vendor speak openly about how we still need to make progress.
Innovating and learning in a changing marketplace
“We have found that the best defence against major unexpected failures is to fail often”
This memorable quote is from the Netflix blog on Chaos Monkey. Shawn highlighted this attitude as an important part of their innovative mindset, just like it played a big role in the Netflix cloud evolution towards making their infrastructure more resilient.
At the cloud-level, Solodev offers support for load balancing, content distribution networks (CDNs), and disaster recovery to keep customer data safe-and-secure across the AWS global network of data centers.
To be fair, it still takes considerable time and skill to implement an enterprise website using Solodev, but by offering easy access to the software and taking issues like deployments out of the equation, they are trying to save time for the buyers.
Making it easier to buy
To quote Shawn:
Every other industry has on-demand software which you can buy online, yet building enterprise websites lives in the legacy world with traditional software sales processes
At quick look at other cloud-based vendors like Crownpeakand Umbraco confirms that while pricing is available for starter packages, you have to fill out the contact us form before getting started at an enterprise level. In other words, you can’t buy an enterprise-level cloud solution without speaking to sales guys. There might be good reasons for this, but does it still need to be this way?
There’s been a market for software vendors using technology to build websites since the late 90’s, but some of the procurement processes remain unchanged.
At Solodev you can buy from their own website where small, medium and cluster versions are available. Their enterprise version with 10+ Hours per Month Support also requires you to fill out the contact us form.
In terms of pricing, you can also purchase Solodev on the AWS Marketplace as the 1st CMS available in there. The pricing model is hourly and I have never seen that before in this space.
This different pricing approach might not be easy to digest for a buyer, but it does offer very low cost compared to traditional approaches to hosting a website infrastructure.
Introducing serverless CMS
I first heard about the term serverless CMS in May 2016, where Razorfish published an article on a reactive serverless CMS. They basically wanted to move their blog from WordPress and ended up with an architecture without running any servers, either locally or in the cloud.
AWS Lambda was an important part of the equation for Razorfish as the event-driven serverless computing platform that is a part of AWS and Shawn and the team at Solodev are investigating ways to supplement serverless next to a traditional CMS.
While the term serverless seems very new to the CMS space, Amazon is not the only that offers serverless compute options in the cloud. IBM, Google and Microsoft are in that space as well.
To read more about serverless, you can get a free ebook from O’Really: Serverless Ops – A Beginner’s Guide to AWS Lambda and Beyond. Thanks to Deane Barker for the book recommendation.
Learn more about going to the cloud
I’ve previously said that there are no sane reasons not to take your digital experience to the cloud.
Cloud and digital innovation are frequent topics in several J. Boye groups. Meet with your peers and set the agenda for the next steps in the industry.