It is often the case that both a loosely coupled and headless approach are needed within an organization. In these instances, an agile CMS (also known as a hybrid CMS, or headless hybrid) is the better approach.
An agile CMS is a content management system that provides full back-end content management capabilities, a structured content model, and both a decoupled and a headless content delivery tier. With an agile architecture, your organization can create and manage all your content in one place and deliver it to different channels - the website, a native mobile application, a business application, or somewhere else using the delivery model that makes the most sense. It gives you flexibility in how you deliver content while keeping the management of that content under one roof.
Another benefit of an agile CMS is content aggregation. Most organizations create and manage content in many locations and repositories. Much of that content is helpful in providing good customer experiences. A good hybrid CMS understands that not only should it help you manage content, but it should provide a mechanism to import or aggregate content from other repositories, regardless of format and apply some structure to it, so you can then make it available to your customer channels.
When should you consider an agile CMS over a headless CMS? Here are three reasons:
1. Multiple Deployment Options:
A hybrid CMS offers headless deployment as well as dynamic content delivery. In addition to a "headless" content API, a hybrid CMS provides a content delivery server that is "loosely coupled" with the CMS. Using a content delivery server, you can publish your public website, Intranet or a portal - all on separate delivery tiers yet connected to the same backend for content.
With a content delivery server, you can use the CMS to create templates for your website, so you don't have to have your developers code every page on your website. You can also create dynamic and personalized experiences.
Along with a content delivery server and a content API, a hybrid CMS may also support the ability to push content to other channels by rendering content as static XML or JSON files. This push deployment model is often preferable for applications with offline requirements, kiosks, and sites with information security requirements where a content API connection is not acceptable.
2. Mature Platform
The headless CMS market is relatively new. The feature gap between a modern web experience platform and headless CMS is significant. With an agile CMS, you get the best of both worlds: a full-featured CMS platform with flexible or agile content deployment options.
Because they stem from mature web experience platforms, agile CMS' are fully developed and have a strong foundational architecture that separates content management from content delivery, focus on creating intelligent content so you can use it across many channels, while still providing full content management capabilities regardless of how or where content is delivered.
Many hybrid CMS' also provide several hosting and deployment options, including SaaS, on-premise, and platform-as-a-service for public and private cloud, as opposed to the multi-tenant SaaS-only model traditionally used by headless-only CMS vendors.
3. Robust Content Management Capabilities
Speaking of full content management capabilities, a headless CMS only provides a subset. Distributed content authoring, customizable workflow, search, personalization, analytics, governance capabilities such as accessibility, spelling, and grammar, linking, and SEO aren't features you see in many headless CMS'.
Many organizations require features beyond what you find in a first-generation headless CMS. And it's not only the list of features, but it's also the depth of their capabilities. For example, you can upload images and media in a headless CMS, but you may not get all the digital asset management features you need. Many of the features you expect from a web experience platform are not fully realized in a headless CMS and may be critical to creating great content and delivering the best experiences for your audiences.