Evaluating the cost of Sitecore

I started working with Sitecore in 2008, it was probably version 5.4ish. At that time, I think Sitecore was identified as a solid Content Management platform for .Net shops. The page editor had not yet been perfected and it didn’t come with a lot of bells or whistles. To be fair to Sitecore, the price tag matched the product. Over the years, however, Sitecore has improved their product immensely. Sitecore comes loaded with analytics, personalization, multi-variant testing and a whole suite of products to make marketers drool. The other side of the story is that Sitecore license and maintenance fees have grown along with the product. If the cost of Sitecore has caused some sticker shock, I challenge you to consider the following points when evaluating a CMS. I think you’ll find that its value is more than worth it.

What is included: Sitecore is no longer a standard CMS. Often it is the responsibility of an organization’s IT department to shop for a new CMS. But once the project launches, it is the business and the marketers which maintains the site’s content and use it on a daily basis. Sitecore saw this trend years ago and you can tell with the direction it has grown. xDB, Engagement Analytics, Personalization, Experience Editor, both A/B/N and multivariate testing and a whole host of marketing features all come with a Sitecore installation. The number of third party applications you need to integrate with is shrinking based on the growing suite Sitecore offers to its customer.

What modules are available: So many solutions contain the same challenges. “We need to integrate with Gigaya for our social needs.” Or “We already have a blog in WordPress, can we move that over?” And hundreds of other similar questions. A lot of the time, someone in the Sitecore community has already resolved these issues for you. Leveraging the Sitecore Marketplace is a no-brainer. There is no sense in reinventing the wheel, the Sitecore community is very strong and helpful when it comes to sharing solutions.

Ease of use for Content Authors: With the introduction of Sitecore 8.0 a couple of years ago, content entry became a breeze. While previous versions offered a lot of flexibility, at the end of the day getting what you wanted on the page required a bunch of clicks. With the Experience Editor getting what you want on the page couldn’t be easier. When you add in how easy personalization, a/b/n testing, and evaluating engagement analytics is the content author now has one convenient location to take care of all their needs.

Different licensing options: Perpetual installation pricing is probably the model you are familiar with. This is where you pay for a license file to sit on each server including production and development. Sitecore, however, also offers Consumption pricing. This looks at your number of users and any modules you might be using but allows for an unlimited number of servers. If you are looking to deploy to Azure or AWS and need to scale up or down around certain times of year, this could be ideal for you.

Developer friendly: Improvements to the Experience Editor is not the only thing going on at Sitecore HQ. I have always thought that 80% of the Sitecore api made sense. It was pretty easy to learn and utilize a great deal of what a developer can do with Sitecore. That other 20%, however, oh man. I have heard people joke that a Sitecore MVP is someone who figure out how Sitecore works on their own. A big reason for this was the lack of documentation. This is changing – Sitecore is currently revamping their documentation center and making it much easier to find pertinent information. And although I’ll miss the man in the beige turtleneck, the new(ish) is a lot more helpful.

Growing pipeline: These changes mark just the beginning of what Sitecore is offering its customers. In fact, there are dozens of features I didn’t even mention in this post which add value to a Sitecore install that were introduced with Sitecore 8.1 and Sitecore 8.2. Not to mention the exciting things Sitecore hinted at during the MVP summit in New Orleans. Perhaps the biggest fault of this post is the absence of Sitecore Commerce. I blame my own ignorance of the product for leaving it out but having your CMS and Commerce engine combined into one powerful platform offers flexibility never seen before within one system.