How dotCMS Hybrid CMS Improves Performance

Jason Smith

When it comes to delivering customer experiences, poor performance is often the most significant roadblock. Slow websites — or worse, downtime — will cause consumers to leave your brand in favor of better experiences elsewhere. In fact, 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience.

That’s why it’s crucial to have a high-performance CMS for content-fueled customer experiences. Especially with omnichannel becoming the norm, the software and infrastructure demands are only going to continue increasing.

With this in mind, let’s take a deep dive into the performance benefits of a hybrid CMS solution and the technological freedom that comes with them.

Why CMS Performance Is Critical

With more consumers seeking online brand experiences, there’s an increased demand on the IT infrastructure at large organizations. Delivering scalable digital experiences to customers places an enormous burden on IT staff, and a CMS without the right architecture and underlying technologies can make maintenance a nightmare. While marketers are the end-users for a CMS solution, IT staff need to be involved in the decision-making process to ensure they can manage the infrastructure demands any software requires. 

If IT operations teams struggle to deploy and scale the CMS, for example, it can have organization-wide repercussions. And companies can’t afford the negative publicity and lost revenue from system downtimes. Not only is a company's public reputation on the line, but existing customers will question the company’s ability to meet its needs in the future. That's not to mention the burden that the increasing amount of audio and video content will have on systems. That’s why companies need a hybrid CMS solution that makes high performance the default.

How A Hybrid CMS Achieves High Performance

Lets breakdown some of the main reasons the average hybrid CMS substantially outperforms traditional CMS solutions of the past from flexible APIs and frontend tooling to a more scalable architecture.


An API-driven CMS — whether REST or GraphQL — delivers content statelessly. That means each request to the backend server is standalone, so processing requests can be easily spread amongst many instances of the CMS across multiple servers. This is true horizontal scaling, and many state-driven traditional CMS solutions struggle with this. 

In addition, API-driven CMS solutions can deliver just the content, and leave much of the dynamic functionality to the client-side, so processing power is leveraged on many devices beyond the company’s internal IT infrastructure.

Frontend Agnostic

With an API-driven architecture, the frontend presentation layer is also decoupled and language-agnostic. That means developers can choose the latest and greatest frontend technology or framework that performs better than websites of the past. It’s no longer necessary to use the proprietary or bloated tooling of monolithic traditional CMSs, so developers can quickly switch out technologies as appropriate. 

Most JavaScript-based frontend tooling like React or Vue will be faster and more responsive than an MVC-based Struts architecture that was popular with many enterprises in the past. That’s because SPA and PWA frameworks use techniques to optimization dynamic DOM manipulations and costly API requests.

Decoupled Architecture

The decoupled nature of hybrid CMS solutions — especially those with a containerized microservices architecture — makes scalability and elasticity  much easier to achieve. IT operations teams can put processes in place to automatically deploy and undeploy the specific components necessary as traffic demands change. 

With traditional CMSs, however. Developers would have to deploy an entire monolithic application instead of scaling the specific bottlenecks. This means companies can achieve greater performance at reduced costs because the system is closely aligned with computing needs.

SSGs & CDN Networks

With a hybrid CMS, the flexibility of content delivery means companies can also leverage static site generators (SSGs) and content delivery networks (CDNs) for faster site load times. The SSG can pull the content via APIs, pre-render the site into static markup, and deliver it to the CDN. 

While SSGs can bring enormous benefits, leveraging CDNs is also straightforward with a headless CMS. The CDN can cache the site globally, and deliver the site from the server closest to a particular end-user. Whether building static or dynamic websites, developers have complete freedom with a hybrid CMS to create high-performance frontend solutions.

Flexible Publishing

Since hybrid CMS solutions can deliver content headlessly, it’s possible to create content from a centralized location and reuse it across many different frontends simultaneously. This is especially the case with hybrid CMS solutions that have multisite and multi-tenant capabilities for managing hundreds of sites within one CMS instance. Requiring fewer CMS instances reduces computing costs and makes scaling easier when necessary.

Content Storage

Another significant factor in content delivery is the retrieval from the content repository. A CMS that’s content-focused will store content as XML, JSON, or many other formats instead of bloated full-page layouts. This ensures content can be indexed and easily retrieved using technologies like Elasticsearch instead of the traditional SQL query approach. As content velocity continues to accelerate, it will only become more crucial to properly store content in the future.

dotCMS: The High-Performance Hybrid CMS

dotCMS brings together all the innovative capabilities of a hybrid CMS to deliver high-performance digital experiences at scale. But it doesn’t sacrifice the marketer experience either. The platform has rich authoring tools, workflows, personalization, and other essential marketing features. With Edit Mode Anywhere, for example, content authors still have a powerful editor no matter the frontend that developers choose to use.

dotCMS caters to all stakeholders from marketers to IT operations and developers to ensure companies achieve content velocity and quality customer experiences at a lower total cost of ownership. The API-driven, content-centric CMS can easily scale horizontally to meet increased traffic demands because it’s straightforward to maintain and deploy. The dotCMS platform is built for performance from the ground up.

While dotCMS is highly performant out of the box, there are numerous ways to tune the platform for even greater speed and scalability outline in the system documentation. For more on the high performance of dotCMS, see our dotCMS Enterprise Performance Report.

Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer
December 16, 2019

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