Ingeniux is a smallish U.S. vendor with a solid feature set, a mature business posture and a steadily growing list of enviable clients. Here's a background snapshot on the company and our review of release 7 of the Ingeniux Web CMS product.
The Ingeniux CMS Story
|Product ||Ingeniux CMS 7.0|
|Product Category ||Web content management, web publishing|
|Typical Scenario ||Online publishing, Educational institutions, Membership institutions, etc|
|Bad Fit Scenario ||Intranets, Document collaboration, Community sites (unless combined with Cartella)|
Company & Product History
Ingeniux Corporation was founded in 1999 by Jim Edmunds, who is currently the President and CEO. The company has been organically funded and reported to CMSWire that they are currently profitable.
A small to medium sized vendor in the Web CMS space, Ingeniux has between 35 and 40 full time employees in Seattle, 10 developers on contract and a number of freelancers (many of whom support the consulting services arm of the company).
Along with working with key partners Ingeniux also offers Ingeniux 360, a site administrator and developer support program. This offering is over and above what is offered as part of the typical Ingeniux CMS support license. Ingeniux 360 offers direct access to Ingeniux Professional Services developers, training and other services that help organizations ensure they are making the most of their implementation. Roughly 70% of Ingeniux customers are now enrolled in the 360 program.
Ingeniux sells a few different products with the primary offering being the Ingeniux CMS. The full list of options includes both an on-demand (via hosted virtual machines) and an on-premise version of Ingeniux CMS, then you have Cartella, a social software platform (they refer to it as social content management software), and finally clients can purchase or use a number of add-on application modules.
The Ingeniux CMS product is a .NET and XML-based web content management system. It has its roots in various projects undertaken by Microsoft Corporation, where the current CEO, Edmunds, and others developed the MSNBC website. Using the knowledge gained from this project, Edmunds left Microsoft and started up Ingeniux.
Currently in version 7, the Ingeniux CMS product has undergone significant enhancements in recent years, and appears to be sustaining a rapid pace of innovation. In May 2006 the company released version 5, which included extensive usability improvements to the back office admin interface, a new WYSIWYG editor and native support for single source business documents.
The product really took off about two and a half years ago when version 6 was released -- the company reportedly doubled license sales in the subsequent 12 months. This update included a multi-format content deployment model, opening the door to customers who already had an existing delivery environment but were looking for improved content management capabilities. Other v6 enhancements included an AJAX-enabled web client, enhanced asset management and an improved core taxonomy system.
David Hillis, VP of Business Development for Ingeniux, helps direct product strategy. According to Hillis, Ingeniux puts out a large number services releases and has an aggressive product roadmap. We'll discuss the roadmap after we take a closer look at the current version.
Market & Pricing
When we inquired about the Ingeniux CMS target markets, David Hillis spoke of "fat-tailed customers" or customers who had a large number of users. Higher Education is one of the key targets in this case, and it seems Hillis and company have executed well in the space. They report that more than 150 colleges and universities are currently using the product. Over 50% of their current customers are publicly funded organizations who need enterprise web content management on a budget. Life Sciences is currently their fastest growing market.
Some of Ingeniux's customers include:
- General Electric -- GE recently selected Ingeniux to support web publishing for their 300,000 employees, including websites, handbooks, and blogs.
- US Army -- Ingeniux powers the benefits portals for the US Army and other branches. Sites are delivered in multiple languages and integrate with the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) system.
- Workday -- The high-flying SaaS ERP vendor uses Ingeniux OnDemand to manage their websites, blogs, and sales collaboration.
- Amadeus -- Amadeus provides technologies and services to the travel industry. Their website has a decoupled deployment via Akamai. Ingeniux is used to manage over 75 websites localized for 215 markets, and over 300,000 pages of content.
- Champlain College -- The Vermont based educational institution utilizes the hosted Ingeniux OnDemand service.
Ingeniux comes in two specific flavors: on-premise and on-demand (SaaS). Over half of Ingeniux customers use the on-demand offering, which became available in 2003. Each product licensing approach has three editions: Essential, Professional and Enterprise.
On-Demand Pricing Basics:
|OD Essential||OD - Professional||OD- Enterprise|
|1 Website||3 Websites||Unlimited Websites|
|15 content contributors||50 content contributors||Unlimited content contributors|
|Shared Application Hosting||Dedicated VM||Dedicated "large slice" VM|
|Dedicated VM Available|
|US$ 1,800 per month||US$ 2,800 per month||US$ 3,800 per month|
On-Premise Pricing Basics:
|OP Essential||OP - Professional||OP- Enterprise|
|1 CMS Server||2 CMS Servers (1 CMS, 1 DDS, or other combination like CMS Prod, CMS Dev)||Unlimited sites and users|
|5 concurrent users||15 concurrent users||All Ingeniux App Modules|
|One Domain||3 Domains|
|All Ingeniux App Modules|
|US$ 25,000 license||US$ 35,000 license||US$ 60,000 license (starts at)|
|US$ 4,500 annual S&M||US$ 7,500 annual S&M||US$ 12,000 annual S&M|
These prices were all updated in 2010 and there are discounts available for non-profit and EDU customers. Ingeniux offers several hosting options, including a managed services offering and a PCI-compliant hosting option.
Key Features and Ratings
Some people who know of Ingeniux refer to it as a .NET Web CMS. Well, it is and it isn't. At its core you find an XML repository -- so all content is created as XML and stored as XML documents in a flat file system on the server. Although other systems have taken a similar approach, namely Documentum and Stellent (prior to the Oracle acquisition), Ingeniux is one of the few mid-market CMS solutions to develop their own content repository. Hillis refers to the XML repository as their "special sauce" because it’s specifically designed to optimize content reuse in the CMS..
The content management server includes 2 separate website management interfaces: an author/publisher interface -- deployed via an AJAX web client framework, and a CMS administrative interface. Both of these are built on Microsoft .NET, IIS and Windows 2008. In its current form, the admin interface utilizes a number of ActiveX controls, but as I discuss discuss later on, this area of the product is being updated to use more modern technologies.
In addition to the XML repository there are a number of APIs available that expose the CMS functionality. These API kits current come in Java, .NET and COM flavors. Supporting modern integration trends, Ingeniux also offers SOAP web services and a RESTful API.
The CMS is built on a two-tier architecture: the core CMS and the Dynamic Site Server (DSS). The Content Management Server itself runs on Windows 2003/2008, the DSS can run on either IIS or Tomcat and the CMS client is completely web-based. Note that you do not actually need the Dynamic Site Server to deploy your website (more on Ingeniux delivery models later).
Ingeniux CMS -- System Architecture
As you can see, the company has a open view on technology, particularly when it comes to content deployment. The overall strategy is cross-browser, cross-platform, no install (no client installations).
An Affinity for Model-View-Controller Design
Ingeniux is focused on Microsoft's new ASP.NET Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework for web development. Ingeniux supports the use of MVC 1 and 2 (soon to come MVC 3) for website development. The company also provides an add-on for Visual Studio that connects your ASP.NET projects to the Ingeniux content store.
The Ingeniux Cartella Community Server was the first commercial software application developed in MVC and uses MVC to customize the modules and application.
Ingeniux CMS' native content entities are either pages or components. Components can be added to pages. A content entity is stored as an XML document, which makes it flexible and extensible.
Out of the box, Ingeniux comes with over 30 standard content item elements, including the standard ones like text, date, media, multi-select, and other ones such as Component, XHTML, Web Service and more. They add new ones on a regular basis, pushed out with CMS updates or via the SDK. You can also add your own custom elements using the SDK and schema designer.
In cases where you want a drop-down or multi-select element for your content item, you can create a static tree to select from, run a database query or call a web service to populate the list
Creating a New Content Item
In the web client, the entire website structure is displayed via the Site Tree. To create a new content item, you can select New from the web client main menu or right click on the tree hierarchy where you want to add the new piece of content and select new.
When added from the main menu, you have the additional step of selecting where in the Site Tree you want the content item added. The Site Tree is a way to organize the pages and components of your website, it is not the website navigation structure.
New content items are based on page creation rules or on page types. So you can specify that a particular template is used based on where the new page (content item) is created in the website hierarchy. We discuss page creation rules a little later.
Content Entry Form
There are two views for adding/editing a content item. The content entry form is fairly straightforward and includes all the fields that will be displayed on the page, as well as additional meta data.
Ingeniux CMS -- Creating or Editing a Content Item
In addition, you may want to have specific components displayed in certain content areas within the page. These components are separate from the content item itself, but are rendered as part of the page view. For example, you might want a list of related articles displayed on a news article page.
Ingeniux CMS -- Create/Edit Page / 2
The second approach for editing content is the Page View, or what many call in-context editing. This is essentially a WYSIWYG view of the page you are creating. It is meant more for authors who only deal with the meat of a content item (the text displayed on the page), though you can still easily click back and forth between in context editing and form view. You can also select components to add to the content item from the in-context view.
In the screenshot below, to edit a particular piece of text, you click on the text. It will then be displayed with a WYSIWYG editor. The WYSIWYG editor is TinyMCE, which includes multi-language spell checking.
Ingeniux CMS -- In-context Editing
Designing Templates, Managing Look and Feel
As the CMS is the design-time environment for the website(s), there are a number of capabilities available for creating page templates and the overall look and feel of your website.
Templates can be designed using Microsoft Visual Studio or the open source Eclipse IDE tool. They can also be designed using a free tool that comes with Ingeniux called the Schema Designer. In any case, new templates are uploaded into the asset system to be used.
The schema designer enables you to build a quick schema for a page or a component. There are 20 different elements to add to your design, or you create your own custom elements. Elements can be marked ready only, hidden for certain users or required. The XML schema is validated upon save to ensure that any changes made to the content item schema are correctly formatted. Components should be typed so that you cannot add one to an element that doesn't support it.
Page Creation Rules
As mentioned earlier, when a user attempts to create a new piece of content, they may have the option of selecting a page creation rule or a page template. Page Creation rules lock users down, limiting what they can and cannot do.
When you create a page creation rule you indicate the schema, stylesheet and workflow that are attached to the particular page. You also indicate what users and groups have permission to use the rule. Page Creation rules are great for user generated content.
Ingeniux CMS -- Page Creation Rules
Taxonomy & Metadata
The CMS supports tagging content via terms stored in a structured taxonomy. The Taxonomy Manager provides the ability to create and manage a taxonomy for your website. Ingeniux supports XML schema for metadata and a number of common W3C elements. The taxonomy is used for faceted search, tag clouds, navigation and related links.
Ingeniux CMS -- Taxonomy Manager
You can create any number of taxonomy category and you can nest categories within categories.
Ingeniux support the integration of a number of different search engines, the most common being Google Search Appliance, Google Mini, Endeca and Apache Lucene. Search is globalized across all website languages and includes all XML content, documents, images and other assets.
There is no integrated search analytics capability. You have to use the analytics that come with the search engine selected.
Ingeniux has what is called the Ingeniux CMS Cascading Authentication System. This enables an organization to use multiple identity systemsystems, such as Active Directory, LDAP, or a database to authenticate users to the CMS. The CMS simply moves through each system until it is able to authenticate (or not authenticate) the user.
Users are assigned to groups within the CMS and then all permissions for that group are selected from the list of permissions available. Users can be added to multiple groups and you can create as many groups as you like.
Ingeniux CMS -- User Manager
If you have multiple websites in your installation, you can manage them all from the admin client. Permissions can cascade across sites.
Content items in the CMS are versioned whenever they are checked-out, and at each step in workflow.
You can view the differences between versions and revert to a prior version if desired. In addition, a version rollback capability allows you to discard your recent changes and return to the last checked in version of your content.
Ingeniux CMS -- View History
Any web content management system designed for mid-to-larger organizations tends to have a workflow engine. Ingeniux is not exception. The product's Workflow Editor is easy to understand and use. There are several workflows that you can use out of the box, or you can design your own. Workflows are sequential only.
When you create a workflow, you are defining the rules for a particular action, including what the next action in the workflow must be. Workflows are subject to the security framework, so you can't assign an action in a workflow to someone who doesn't have permission to perform that action.
Workflow notifications are displayed in the dashboard of the both the Web Client and the Admin Client, and email notifications can be sent, linking the user back to the content item.
Although you can create any number of workflows, Ingeniux recommends using as few as possible to make it easier to maintain. In the CMS, workflows include permission filtering, so they can be re-purposed for different sections of the website, without worrying about who has permission to edit different pieces of content.
Ingeniux CMS -- The Create Workflow Screen
Administrators can view workflows currently in progress, including seeing what state the workflow is at and who is assigned the current action. If you have permission, when you are looking at a content item, you can assign a workflow to another user.
Ingeniux CMS -- Viewing Active Workflows
Multilingual and Localization Support
Ingeniux is a multilingual Web CMS. Websites can be developed in any language required. And multi-lingual sites have a separate Site Tree for each language. A separate, cloned content item is stored in each Site Tree and is related to a master content item in whatever language is selected as the source.
Translation can be done internally or externally. Internal translation includes a side by side view with redlining and machine translation options. In the case of external translation, content is exported as XML data and the translated text is imported back into the system. This process can be automated with the Ingeniux Automated Tasks Manager.
If content is not translated into a particular language, you can set the system to display a default language.
In addition to supporting multiple content languages, the web client interface has been localized in a number of languages, including English, French, Spanish, German and Simplified Chinese.
Editorial and Administrator Capabilities
When you log into the Ingeniux CMS, you are immediately presented with the CMS Dashboard, offering you quick access to tools and summary view for the website. From there you can quickly see the status of the website and content that is in progress. You also see any assignments currently awaiting your action.
The administration and editorial views are localized via a language drop down option in the top right hand corner of the client.
Ingeniux CMS -- The Content Management Dashboard
When working within a site, you can drag and drop content in the Site Tree to move it around the site. There's also a right click context menu, in addition to the standard menu at the top of the web client.
There are a number of capabilities for administrators including:
- Both workflow reporting and site wide reports for administrators
- The ability to configure toolbars for end-users
- Create publishing targets such as print, mobile, website and others
- Push archived content into a different database
- Define structured URLs such as vanity URLs, extension-less URLs, automatic redirecting and canonical URL features (this enables you to funnel all requests through a preferred URL, with only the preferred URL indexed)
- Simple editing via the iPhone is supported
Customizability and Integration
Ingeniux is a complete web content management system. But as we know, today's clients demand a lot more functionality than what is traditionally considered part of a Web CMS. This new functional demand has been capture in what we call Web Engagement Management (WEM).
Ingeniux is a positioned as a modern WEM solution. And it provides much of this additional WEM functionality via their Apps Manager. The Apps Manager is a separate area in the Web Client where you can manage a number of additional features (Application Modules) geared toward managing web experiences and web engagement.
Ingeniux offers a number of certified Application Modules, integration of a number of third party applications and custom integrations as required. You can select the modules you want integrated into your CMS implementation and you manage them from this separate location.
Ingeniux CMS - The Apps Area
Some of the certified application modules include blogging module, calendar, newsletter, commenting and redirects.
Customizations can be done using Ingeniux's APIs or Web Services. As was indicated above, there are a number of APIs available that expose the CMS functionality. These APIs come in Java, .NET and COM classes. Ingeniux also offers SOAP web services and a RESTful API for the integration of Web Services.
Ingeniux has a heavy focus on third party integration, their APIs are public to their integration partners. They have an App Alliance Partner program where they work with partners to develop applications and integrations with functionality outside their core product.
Web 2.0 and Tools Integration
Ingeniux's Web 2.0 capabilities come primarily from their Cartella social media solution. Cartella is a complete social media solution including profiles,social networking, blogs, wikis, forums, and more. It offers personalization via membership registration. Cartella is shown as an App in the Apps section of the web client. Security can be integrated across the two, so the experience is seamless.
Ingeniux also offers a separate Application Module for blogging and integration with BlogXite.Content Syndication is supported natively (RSS, OPML, Podcasts and ATOM).
There are also components that aggregate content from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and you can do deeper Facebook integration using the FB Connect API.
Engagement Optimization and Marketing Automation
Personalization is a key component of engagement optimization and obviously then a key capability for Ingeniux, in combination with Cartella. With Cartella involved, there is a fully community experience.
The CMS alone supports cookies for personalization. It also has a Run-Time Authentication System (as discussed in the Security section above) to authenticate people and provide personalized views.
Personalization can be done using the taxonomy system. Content can be delivered via category/topic, group/role.
Web Analytics and A/B Testing
There are several analytics solutions that can be used with Ingeniux, including Google Analytics, Web Trends and Adobe Omniture. Google Analytics is supported by default. You can view the analytics for the site as a whole or for a particular page (this is one of the tabs when you are viewing a content item in the web client).
Ingeniux was one of the first partners in the Google Website Optimizer program, alongside Clickability and others. This means that is supports the ability to do both A/B and Multi-variate testing.
Currently Ingeniux does not support social media analytics within the CMS, but analytics are a part of the Cartella Community Server solution.
Demand Generation has become a key component of any web experience and the web content management system is at the heart of this capability. Ingeniux by default provides capabilities for features such as landing pages and microsites.
The Forms Builder, another Application Modules, is integrated with Salesforce and the Email Manager enables you to build email campaigns using content within your CMS. In addition, you can integrate with a number of external providers for various capabilities (Exact Target for email, Salesforce CRM and Eloqua for Marketing Automation).
Content Delivery Architecture
Ingeniux supports multiple content delivery models, and includes a content syncing and replication feature. This is probably one of the solution's strongest differentiators.
The first to consider is their approach to website deployment. In addition to the XML repository and CMS, Ingeniux offers an optional delivery server called the Dynamic Site Server (DSS). This server can be installed on top of IIS or Linux and deploys content as either .NET or XML/XSLT. This approach does support personalization capabilities, syndication and a mixture of both static and dynamic content -- but you don't have to use the DSS.
The second delivery model sends content to a decoupled web server, with content delivered as static files (HTML or XML). In this case, content delivery networks (CDNs) can also be utilized. Note that this approach does not support personalization or dynamic content.
The third delivery approach is called multi-format output. Again in this case the delivery web server is decoupled from the CMS, and you can build your website in a number of languages including .NET, ASP.NET MVC or PHP. This allows you to create personalized, dynamic websites and allows you to use the technologies you already know.
There are two ways to do multi-format output. A push approach means the content is pushed out by the CMS -- similar to that decoupled, or static, approach, but rendered using the scripting language like ASP.NET or PHP. A pull approach means that you build your website any way you like and pull your CMS content in using APIs or Web Services. This is similar to connecting to a database to get dynamic content.
There are advantages and disadvantages to all approaches, so it's important to understand what you are trying to achieve before investing in a particular delivery model.
Ingeniux also supports the delivery of content to different channels, including mobile, kiosks and offline/print. Within the Site Manager (administrator view) you define different publishing targets. You can register mobile device profiles and user agents. The product also ships with an embedded XSL:FO server for PDF generation and supports Flow Objects for In-Design and Quark.
Similar Web CMS Products
Ingeniux is used by a number of mid-to-large organizations. In terms of similar products, we see CoreMedia, Ektron, FatWire and Sitecore as contenders. These are all products that are positioned as WEM solutions and have a strong history in the Web CMS space. The best comparison may be with Sitecore, considering its deep Microsoft platform roots and XML APIs.
Sitecore also offers a full Marketing Automation suite as part of their solution, whereas Ingeniux partners for a full experience. Ingeniux does differentiate itself in that it offers both an on-premise and SaaS version, with the SaaS version becoming the most common approach for customers.
Here's a summary table of the review (rating is 0.0-5.0 with 5.0 being the best):
|Product Core Technology||Basic CMS, XML repository, web client, multiple publishing scenarios||4|
|Content Entities||XML based, easily extensible/customizable||5|
|Editorial Features||Limited mobile support,assignments view, quick check||3.5|
|Content Workflow||yes, extensible||5|
|Multi-lingual Support||yes, web client localized, internal/external translations||5|
|Social Media Capabilities/ Web Engagement ||blogging, comments within CMS as modules, tight integration with Cartella, personalization, email marketing, Google||5|
|Security ||Run-Time Authentication, Cascading Authentication||5|
|Content Delivery Architecture||Multiple website deployment models, multi-channel deployment models||5|
Our Final Take
Overall I was impressed with Ingeniux. The web client is user friendly and it was fairly straightforward to create and edit content, view workflows, tasks, etc.
The approach to website deployment and the multi-channel publishing capabilities are impressive, and allow an organization with a current delivery technology to adopt and integrated the CMS without having to make drastic changes. The decoupled delivery option may also fit well with the growing demand for multi-device support. The ability to create websites using MVC shows that Ingeniux is embracing innovation and the latest technologies, which likely bodes well for the product roadmap.
I also had the opportunity to see the Cartella Community Management Server. Although I would not put it on the same level as products like Jive, it is comparable to solutions like Telligent and Awareness.
On the down side, the product lacks solid internal documentation. The company reps do acknowledge this, although they believe the system is intuitive enough that you don't really need the documentation. You may or may not agree.
Another ding was that the Admin Client had to be used with Internet Explorer and required a number of Active X controls to be installed. This was a pain, but this approach has reportedly been changed in the forthcoming Ingeniux CMS 7.5 release.
The upcoming version is already in beta and is expected to be available in Q1 of 2011. This release has a number of new features, with a particular focus on the Administrator tools. The Administrator web client has been completely rebuilt using AJAX, you can now import groups as well as individuals from directory services, a graphical workflow designer has been added, an HTML Editor Configurator (allowing you to lock down the environment better) is new as well, and a number of other enhancements are coming along for the ride (stay tuned).
So do I recommend a closer look? If you are a Microsoft shop, then definitely yes. And if you are looking for a web content management system that can work with your existing website delivery approach, then it's certainly worth a review as well.