Any organization, small or large, needs a content management system (CMS) to interact with their data. The interaction actions include create, edit, archive, collaborate, report, publish, and distribute. The content management system's graphic user interface makes it easy to interact with a backend database. The data stored in the database is rendered on a webpage via a template. A CMS works best with structured data. We can also manage content like audio and video files through CMS. Sitecore offers the best CMS solution for users. In this post, we will explain all about the Sitecore CMS. You will get a detailed overview of the features and benefits of Sitecore. You can also get to know about the various types of databases, Sitecore API, and the terminology related to Sitecore. So, without further ado, let's dive deep into the details.
Sitecore is an integrated customer experience platform with a powerful .Net CMS, commerce, and a fully-adaptive Digital Marketing System (DMS). It was founded in the year 2001 in Denmark. CMS is the most integral part of Sitecore which helps in managing content. It helps in creating, optimizing, testing, and automating content according to customer's needs. Sitecore is most useful in delivering the right content to the right users at a right time. The main goal of Sitecore is to provide customers with personalized content in real-time throughout their journey across multiple channels.
According to both Gartner and Forrester, Sitecore is the world's leading and award-winning CMS. The Sitecore CMS adapts the flexibility, scalability, and security of the .NET framework. It can collect and integrate customer data from both online and offline. It helps manage content on different sources like websites, blog posts, eCommerce, etc. The marketers and content editors will have full control over the content with advanced personalization. The Sitecore CMS provides a fully intuitive desktop interface with a fully customizable role-based system. It gives a full view of all customer insights in a single place. Users will be able to perform tasks like managing users, editing content, setting up workflows, monitoring campaigns, etc.
Sitecore offers much more than just content management. Here are a few key features of Sitecore.
The following are the benefits of Sitecore.
The Sitecore CMS is made up of three databases - core, master, and web. They will be used across content management and content delivery servers.
The core database stores configuration of all applications in the CMS. It stores event queues, users’ preferences, etc. Sitecore roles can access this database through CMS and manage memberships. Users will be able to configure settings, build applications, override standard functionality. We can also add buttons to the ribbon in the editor. So, it usually contains the data controlling the Sitecore CMS user interfaces.
All the content editor work is handled by the master database. When content is created, edited, or deleted, it will get stored in the master database. It stores all versions of all content. The database also holds content authoring, list creations, templates, layouts, content items, media library items, and settings. Some sections of the site can be customized to lock down to certain roles. They can also be sent to an approver or translator before going live. Users with content management roles can access this database.
The live content of web applications is stored in a web database. It is accessed by users of all roles. When content is published through a content editor, the content gets copied from the master database to the web database. The web database only stores the latest and live versions of items. Only the web and core databases are hosted in the SQL server instance in a live environment. Based on a certain schedule, the databases get replicated from the authoring environment to a live environment using SQL replication. This way, the CMS will not be available for the website making it more secure.
Additionally, Sitecore also contains two more databases - analytics and reporting.
The analytics related data gets stored in MongoDB. It mainly improves performance and provides flexibility. After every browser session, the browsing data like goals, campaigns, etc., is collected in real-time and stored in an analytics database.
The aggregated data from the xDB collection is stored in the reporting database. This statistical data generated by the aggregation pipeline will be stored in tables with a star schema. A user with a special processing server role for the production deployment of Sitecore will be able to aggregate data into the reporting database.
Sitecore content tree
When a Sitecore web application is created, all the content of the application is stored in a series of item folders, called the content tree. The content tree contains the following different item folders.
All the pages and data are stored under the content item folder. Each page of the website will be an item. The structure of these items in the folder represents the structure of the website.
Any web application contains multimedia items like images, gifs, etc. All the media items will be stored under the media library item folder. These items can either be stored on a file system or in the database as a blob.
The layouts of the web application are declared in the layout item folder. It also contains the sub layouts of the pages i.e., ASCX files that represent the widgets. Multiple sub layouts are combined with layouts to build pages.
The standard settings of the web application and content editor are stored in the system item folder.
The template items of the website are stored in the templates item folder. The templates are used to describe objects in Sitecore, fields of an object, default value of a field, and layouts to attach to an item.
The content data in Sitecore databases cannot be accessed directly. They can be accessed via Sitecore API. We can use standard .NET web forms, XSLT, MVC, Site core Query, and Sitecore Fast Query methodologies to query the Sitecore items. We can also use Linq to query Sitecore items. The 'where' clauses can be used in the queries to filter down further. To crawl and index content on the website, Sitecore uses Lucene. We can also use Advanced Database Crawler along with Lucene to index. This gives great search capabilities for the web application content. Lucene retains performance and speed for indexing and searching the content.
Publishing in Sitecore
When all the changes that you want are done, you can publish the content. Publishing means making the changes available in the live/production site. The publish operation copies the items from the master database to the web database. A publish operation can be started manually, or an automated publishing routine can be set up to run at a particular time. You can either publish the recent changes made since the last publish or do a complete republish of the entire master database.
Deployment in Sitecore
A Sitecore web application can be deployed according to an organization's needs. It supports the following four types of deployments.
Managed cloud deployment
The managed cloud deployment makes it easy to launch multiple sites in multiple regions. The IT team of an organization does not have to worry about managing the environment. When an organization opts for a managed cloud deployment, it will get Sitecore software, Microsoft Azure-hosted infrastructure, and Sitecore managed services.
Self-managed cloud deployment
If an organization wants to manage their own sites without data centers, they can go with the self-managed cloud deployment option. When an organization selects this option, they will receive a software license for their environment.
On-premises deployment is chosen when an organization wants to manage their sites with their infrastructure. When an organization chooses this option, they will get a software license for their environment to deploy in their data centers.
Lightning-fast digital marketing in the cloud
An organization can deploy their Sitecore on Azure. It will be very easy to launch sites, stores, regions, and languages in less time. It provides reliability and high availability. With multiple data centers, it provides speed and can scale according to the business needs.
The Sitecore CMS is a fully customizable and extendable platform. Developers can build quick, flexible, scalable, and extensive solutions to fulfill various business needs. Any non-technical person will be able to update dynamic and rich content as they need. One of the features that developers love about Sitecore is flexibility and extension. Developers can replace any of the Sitecore classes in the web.config with custom code. Sitecore has a developer community that helps newbies in getting started with Sitecore. You can access the Sitecore community at https://community.sitecore.net/. Major companies like South Carolina Federal Credit Union, L’Oreal, Brooklyn Law School, Rush Enterprises, Cherokee Nation Entertainment, National Wildlife Federation, Cricket Australia, Microsoft, Fujitsu, etc., are already using Sitecore for their content needs.