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Salesforce CMS now generally available

Salesforce now offers a content management system among its myriad of products. But the question remains of whether it will directly compete with CMSes it offers integrations with.

There's no lack of options when it comes to choosing a content management system. Vendors include Alfresco, Box, Google Drive, and Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive. But another vendor has thrown its hat into the ring.

In its Winter '20 Release Notes, which came out Oct. 14, Salesforce announced general availability of the Salesforce CMS.

Salesforce rolled out a beta release of the CMS in its Summer '19 Release Notes, calling it an upgrade to CMS for Community Cloud. Users of CMS for Community Cloud had their content automatically moved to the new Salesforce CMS, with new functionality added, the notes stated.

Specifically, users are now able to share content across communities more easily and collaborate with local and regional teams on projects. Administrators also have role-based access to control content authoring and settings access in Salesforce CMS. 

But companies that have already invested in a CMS aren't likely to switch to the Salesforce offering, said Amber Boaz, a Salesforce MVP and solutions architect at Rapid7.  

"I'm excited for what this means for organizations new to the platform," she said. "With that said, the chances that an org will move from their trusted CMS to Salesforce's CMS is low. The cost to move is just too high and, frankly, a CMS is just a CMS."

The chances that an org will move from their trusted CMS to Salesforce's CMS is low. The cost to move is just too high and, frankly, a CMS is just a CMS.
Amber BoazSalesforce MVP and solutions architect at Rapid7

A Salesforce spokesperson declined to comment further on the company's plans other than to note that there will be "more to come in the coming months."

Account control

Salesforce won't likely introduce any breakthrough CMS features, but it helps keeps customers in the Salesforce fold, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group.

"It's all about account control. You want to retain as much control as possible, because the more customers use third-party applications, the more exposed you are to potentially losing them," Enderle said. "Oracle is the best at this. To whatever extent possible, you always want the customer coming to you first."

Analyst Maribel Lopez concurred and doesn't see Salesforce CMS as an indicator that the company plans to make big moves in the CMS space.

"I think the play has been and always will be to work with partners like Box to fill in any gaps in what Salesforce offers," said Lopez, principal analyst with Lopez Research. "But you get to a point where if you say you're a platform, customers want to know where their content is residing."

With the onset of GDPR and other privacy and compliance regulations, Lopez said the concept of data residency is becoming top-of-mind for enterprise customers, particularly as multi-cloud and international considerations come into play.

"Customers need to know that you can verify their data is in X location because now there is a regulation that says they need to know that," Lopez said. "Salesforce wants to be able to say, 'We'll take care of that.'"

Another CMS investment

Meanwhile, in September, Salesforce's investment arm -- Salesforce Ventures -- announced a $300 million Series D funding investment in Automattic, the company behind the popular content publishing system WordPress.

In the funding announcement, neither company said anything about WordPress influencing or having any impact on Salesforce's CMS plans.

However, Salesforce may be hedging its bets and taking a long-term view, Enderle said. 

"Companies invest in alternative technology to what they're doing in case they have to pivot to the other side," Enderle said. "It helps them deal with the 'not-invented-here' outlook that can keep outside ideas from helping development."

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