We've long considered Web CMS vendors like Sitecore and Ektron to be mid-market players. And to some extent they still are. But with the evolution of web content management towards customer experience management has come a shift in the .NET Web CMS vendor landscape. Here's a look at where the players are today.
Mid-Market .NET Web CMS Vendors
There's a group of .NET-based web content management vendors who we've seen typically grouped into the "mid-market" .NET Web CMS family. These include:
- Telerik -- Sitefinity
But with the evolution of web content management to include more features and functionality for digital marketers, this group is shifting. This article takes a quick look at where the respective products are positioned, mostly from a functionality and pricing perspective. This is not a comparative review.
To help keep the comparisons as even as possible, we looked at .NET Web CMS vendors who offer basic web content management, eMarketing/social and eCommerce capabilities.
Sitecore Sits at the Top of Mid-Market
Sitecore's pricing model is based on the number of servers and the number of backend editors/authors on the content management system itself.
On the low-end, for a single server with 1-3 authors/editors, you are looking at US$ 20k for licensing what Sitecore calls its Primary Edition, or entry level solution. But that's only for web content management. If you want Sitecore's Customer Engagement Platform (Web CMS + OMS, its online marketing solution), then you're looking at at US$ 35k (US$20k for Web CMS + US$ 15k for OMS) plus annual support fees.
If you have more than 3 content managers, you must purchase Sitecore's Professional Edition (includes Web CMS and OMS), which starts at US$ 60k for the first server.
While single server installations are okay for a small business using Sitecore for internal purposes, you are more likely going to want a second server to support higher levels of traffic or internal development environments, etc. This means additional costs of anywhere between US$ 20 and US$ 40k.
And if you want a development or staging environment, you need to look at Sitecore's standard enterprise licensing model.
As you can see, Sitecore is arguably getting too pricy for smaller organizations. But then, that's not the market Sitecore is focused on. The company is aiming at the upper mid-market and higher, and their pricing has adjusted accordingly.
Ektron Sets its Sights on the Enterprise
Ektron is another well-known .NET Web CMS provider and historically they have been considered a solution for the mid-market. But Ektron's focus has been shifting towards the enterprise lately. We've seen evidence of this via recent product updates and architecture changes, and their arrival on the lists of analyst reports like Forrester's Wave for Customer Experience.
Note: For related info, see our article Ektron 8.5 Enterprise Ready: New Architecture, Search & a Refined Interface for more information on the latest version of Ektron.
The starting price for the Ektron platform is around US$ 40k. That's the base license for a single external website (domain).
This gets you the core web content management platform. Additional modules for market optimization, social networking and eCommerce cost about US$ 8k more per module. So for the entire Ektron offering the total prices ends up around US$ 64k. This pricing is for 5 authors and, as we stated earlier, a single domain.
If you need more authors and plan to have more than one domain, you need Ektron's Enterprise license, currently retailing at US$ 100k.
This license is for unlimited domains and comes with two CMS servers. You will still pay more for the additional modules (roughly 20% of the license cost per module). The total price ends up around US$ 160k, and for additional CMS servers you pay US$ 25k per server.
Note that Ektron development servers are free with the enterprise license.
EPiServer is a .NET Web CMS that provides both a hosted and on-premise version of their solution.
EPiServer's on-premise retails at US$ 15k per server for a the EPiServer Professional license (unlimited CMS users, a single IIS application) and their EPiServer Enterprise license (multiple IIS applications + some additional features) goes for US$ 21k. The best I can tell you is that licenses are packaged based on technical requirements and functionality, and typically include the cost of developer licenses.
Bundles can include digital marketing, but there are separate licenses -- ranging from $6-10k each -- for social and eCommerce capabilities, as well as for things like SharePoint or CRM connectors. EPiServer sells its licenses through partners, so you need to contact a partner for specific pricing.
If cloud is your preference, then here's a look at what you will get for a complete EPiServer cloud-based environment for US$ 1800/month:
- SLA 99,5% (24/7)
- Page views: < 50 000 / week
- Data transfer: 300 GB / month
- Data storage: 100 GB
The EPiServer Cloud includes the content management system and EPiServer Composer, a non-technical interface for managing the web experience. The price above supports unlimited CMS users, but does not include e-Commerce, social or digital marketing capabilities -- these are all extras.
Telerik is one of the few Web CMS providers that display their pricing online. For the Standard Edition, which is basic web content management, you are looking at around US$ 2k for a single domain and 5 authors.
From that point you move to the Professional Edition, retailing at US$ 8k. This includes 10 authors, e-Commerce and support for load balancing. The Enterprise Edition license is US$ 20k for unlimited authors and unlimited email campaign subscribers. The pricing here is definitely geared towards the mid-market. And it's notable that Sitefinity pricing has risen dramatically over the past few years.
Telerik, the vendor behind Sitefinity, is working on its Customer experience story, but is still primarily focused on core content management functionality and e-commerce integration.
The company's recent acquisition of e-Commerce vendor Mallsoft has provided the e-Commerce story, and the mid-term roadmap is dominated by integration of this set of features and general product quality.
Kentico is another mid-market Web CMS vendor that is working hard to move up the ladder. Most people believe that Kentico competes most directly with Sitefinity -- and the two companies have a healthy rivalry going -- but with the recent release of version 6 and their Enterprise Marketing Solution they are squarely taking aim at the mid-to-upper end of the market.
Current Kentico pricing starts at US$ 2k and includes a single website with unlimited authors, some basic e-commerce capability and a few marketing/social features such as blogs, forums and newsletters.
Note that there are limits to the amount of products supported in the e-commerce module, as well as the number of blogs/forums you can have.
If you need more than the limits allow you, you can purchase a base license plus a module for either e-Commerce, social networking or document management. In one of these instances, the price goes up to US$ 3,498. What they call their Ultimate license is priced at US$ 4,499, and includes most of the available modules, but is still limited to a single website. This license offers the wider range of features including full e-commerce, social networking, document management, web analytics and more.
Kentico's latest move, with the release of version 6.0, is to offer a top tier license that includes their Enterprise Marketing Solution. This is currently priced at US$ 14,999.
In all cases, Web Farms are supported, but you will pay for extra servers (~US 2k). And if you want more than one website, your base license just jumped up in price, as did your Ultimate license. In all, for a mid-market solution for more than a single website the price ranges from US$10 to probably something like US$ 50k.
Bridgeline Digital is another Web CMS provider that supports the mid- and upper-market. It offers both SaaS and on-premise licensing and has several products that can be bundled into one.
Your cost for the on-premise license starts at US$ 35,000, for the iAPPS CMS. A delivery server is included if you need one. If you want one of the additional add-on modules you'll pay extra: Analyzer: US$ 23k, Commerce: US$ 30k, Marketier: US$ 15k.
Keep in mind, as with all vendors, there can be discounts and special bundling prices. A developer license for the on-premise version will cost you US$3k, but it scales the more you buy.
For the Bridgeline Digital SaaS offering, you are looking at US$ 1200/month for the CMS, US$1,000/month for Analyzer, US$ 1,200/month for Commerce and US$ 300/month for Marketier. Again there are variables here that will be considered.
Ingeniux CMS is the final Web CMS we'll take a look at. It includes a Web CMS and an optional DDS (Dynamic Delivery Server). If you don't want the DDS, then you can use whatever front-end web server you like, but you're responsible for the delivery tier.
Also built on the .NET stack, you can get Ingeniux's software as either an on-premise and SaaS solution. The SaaS pricing ranges from US$ 1800 to US$ 3800 per month, depending on how many websites, editors and dedicated VMs you want.
The on-premise solution, which has an architecture similar to that of Ektron, has three pricing levels, Essential (US$ 25,000), Professional (US$ 35,000) and Enterprise (starts at US$ 60,000).
The Essential license is for a single domain and 5 concurrent users. This is for the Web CMS only. It does not include any of the extra modules Ingeniux offers.
The Professional license is for 15 concurrent users in the CMS and up to three domains. There are two servers in this license which can be the CMS and a Delivery Server, or a Prod & Dev CMS combination. This license includes all Ingeniux add-on modules which includes things like RSS feeds, blogs, email newsletter, analytics, profiles and more. The Enterprise Edition is, of course, unlimited.
Ingeniux also offers discounts for non-profit and educational institutions, both of which are primary markets for the vendor.
There is an app module with Ingeniux CMS that support lead generation, and it does support personalization and multi-channel publishing. If you want community capabilities though, you need to purchase Cartella, Ingeniux's Social Software solution.
The Mid-Market is Changing
I recently had an interesting conversation with Tom Wentworth, Ektron's CMO about how the mid-market for .NET Web CMS vendors is changing. During our chat Tom made a few good points that I though I'd share.
One thing you notice is how these vendors market themselves. Vendors like Ektron, Sitecore and EPiServer don't talk much about pricing on their websites.
To a vendor like Ektron, it's not the price tag that's important, it's the solutions, features and functionality -- this is a mindset focused on a customer who doesn't make purchase decisions based primarily on price. The marketing focus is almost completely on the solutions you can get and the implementation models, designed for better customer experiences and larger deployments.
Other's like Sitefinity and Kentico display their pricing directly on their website -- a sign that price plays an a key role in the decision making. They also speak more about content management and enabling developers than they do about customer experience.
Does a marketing focus on "customer experience" and no pricing on their website automatically put vendors like Ektron and Sitecore out of the mid-market and into the enterprise? No, but I think it shows they are certainly after a different market. And the cost of their platforms definitely prices them out of the low end of the mid-market.
The good news for the lower-end shoppers is that with the entry level pricing, they are getting increasingly mature and sophisticated products at what amounts to a relative bargain. The shift in the market is making the mid-level shoppers jobs more difficult though -- it's getting a lot harder to figure out who your candidates are and from one month to the next, you might find that you can no longer afford your top choice.
Mid Market Web CMS in the Cloud
With everyone thinking about where the cloud may fit in, many Web CMS vendors are now prioritzing their cloud strategy. EPiServer seems to have their model in line. But it's fairly simple and based on core web content management capabilities. Sitecore has also done some work in this area. Ektron is working on theirs, but it's a custom fit model for each organization at this time.
Is there a straightforward license model for hosted Web CMS environments? Do all mid-market WCM vendors need to have a cloud strategy? These are open questions that we'll be investigating further.
Disclaimer: We're never able to cover as much ground as we'd like to -- this article is not comprehensive. We are well aware that there are other .NET Web CMS products in the market. DotNetNuke and Umbraco (open source) spring to mind. Other vendors like CrownPeak offer a cloud-based solution with the possibility of a .NET presentation tier. Our goal here was to note some recent pricing changes and to provide a bit of context for buyers in this space. Please contribute to the conversation in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.