magnolia flowers
Magnolia is addressing user demand in two new releases, Core and Now. PHOTO: Jose Antonio Alba

Basel, Switzerland-based Magnolia has released Magnolia Core 5.5, the latest iteration its recently renamed enterprise content management system (CMS), and Magnolia Now, the new cloud-based version of the CMS. 

Magnolia unveiled Magnolia Core both products at its seventh annual conference in Basel in June, where it boasted Now "takes the hassle out of the deployment and operations of content management" and described Core as the pathway to digital experiences that sets the company apart from its competitors. 

Building Magnolia in the Cloud

Magnolia’s upgrades have always been designed to create simple, scalable and personalized experiences. But Now takes that strategy further by offering rapid deployment times and flexible development through the cloud

The result, Zak Greant, senior technical evangelist at Magnolia, told CMSWire Magnolia Now enables businesses to build projects within days instead of weeks, without the intervention of IT.

Now gives Magnolia an agile enterprise edge that responds to a number of demands from the Magnolia community, he said.

To find out what the community wanted, Magnolia carried out more than 50 interviews with customers from which a number of themes emerged:

  1. Low time to market is critical for new campaigns and new features
  2. Front-end is now as important as back-end (and Magnolia needs to be a great platform both front-end and back-end developers)
  3. Most front-end work shouldn’t need Java (or any back-end coding)
  4. Infrastructure should be simple to manage
  5. Development should have as few bottlenecks as possible. Multiple and mixed teams need to be able to work together without having to wait for each other

Magnolia's Now

Now offers most of the functionality of Magnolia’s most feature-rich edition of Core, as well as a number of key additions including:

  • A built-in development workflow that helps increase productivity and quality
  • Built-in continuous delivery
  • A graphical console for managing releases and copying live content to testing environments

However, Magnolia Now doesn’t allow users to modify the platform themselves.

Magnolia Core 5.5

Magnolia also addressed its community's concerns in Magnolia Core 5.5, the on-premises version.

According to Greant, the upgrades make it easier for marketers to create personalized web experiences with additional component personalization features enabling them personalize parts of pages or entire pages. The new name, which Magnolia revealed in June, was designed to differentiate it from the new cloud-based product, Greant said.

“The new name also helps us re-introduce Magnolia to the market with a much stronger focus on its excellence as a platform and its key benefits, including flexibility, scalability and best-of-breed capabilities/strength at integration,” he added.

Magnolia's Strategy

The upgrades are significant steps for Magnolia. Both the on-premises and cloud versions are robust enough to sustain enterprise campaigns.

Will the new cloud version will impact negatively on the established business of the on-premises version? Greant doesn't think so.

“Many of the current customers of Core heavily customize the Magnolia platform to meet their specific needs and also want the control of running Magnolia on-premises. As NOW doesn’t permit platform-level customization, we don’t see a lot of overlap,” he said.

“Also, as Now is a much easier product to adopt and operate than Core, we expect to more than make up any losses with the revenue and brand growth from Now."

He also said with Now, Magnolia is targeting organizations that want an enterprise-grade CMS that doesn’t require back-end developers or IT support.

“We couldn’t serve this market with Core, but can with Now,” he added.

Ultimately, the upgrades are about adapting to a rapidly changing market  and the growing importance of personalized digital experiences.

"Personalization has been embraced by many customers, but they are mostly on the advanced, more mature end of the scale,” Rasmus Skjoldan, lead product manager said.

“We see a clear trend that other kinds of customers are getting onboard now. We’d like to make it much simpler and easier to get started on your journey toward creating more relevant end-user experiences through simpler personalization features.”

Skjoldan also points out multichannel and omnichannel experiences are slower to develop than many expect due to the organizational challenges of reusing content or orchestrating the use of content along the customer journey.

“Although it is being promoted strongly by many vendors, we’re not seeing a fast shift toward advanced reuse or orchestration. On the other hand, many customers have become very advanced when it comes to assembling web experiences based on multi-source content,” he added.