Content Management Server: Functionality—for a Price
Content Management Server 2001 provides a structured approach to managing
Internet and intranet site content.
The premise of a content management system for Web sites is simple: Make
the external and/or internal message being conveyed by the organization
consistent and easily managed. Microsoft’s Content Management Server 2001
(MSCMS) does this job very well for those organizations committed to Internet
Information Server (IIS) and Active Server Pages to host their Web applications.
Not New, But Better
MSCMS isn’t something Microsoft developed; it’s the Resolution content
management product developed by NCompass Labs, which Microsoft purchased.
This means that MSCMS isn’t version 1.0 but actually is in its fourth
release, with all the features and enhancements that come from years of
development. In Microsoft’s case, acquiring NCompass got it a product
that works very well in implementing a workflow to create, approve, manage
and stage Web content. It also means that strides have been made in integrating
MSCMS with at least some of the other .NET server products, particularly
Commerce Server 2000 and SharePoint Portal Server 2001. Microsoft provides
whitepapers on the MSCMS Web site (www.microsoft.com/cmserver)
to assist in integrating these products with MSCMS.
A Couple of Snags
The installation of MSCMS is well documented (and you need to follow the
documentation here), but I did run across a number of snags. First was
that the MSCMS Database Configuration Assistant (DCA) wasn’t able to enumerate
a list of domains on the subnet, as the Windows Browser service on the
MSCMS computer was a backup browser for its domain. The solution was to
stop the Browser, although Microsoft’s Knowledge Base didn’t have any
reference to this problem when dealing with MSCMS.
Second, the DCA was automatically invoked by the setup process, but the
setup guide doesn’t deal with configuring a SQL Server until later, making
the installation somewhat confusing. In the real world, I suspect that
Microsoft Consulting Services or Certified Partners will be performing
the install instead of the end-user organizations themselves. One other
tip: Don’t skimp on the hardware, especially RAM.
After installing MSCMS, you create user roles and assign users from one
or more NT domains (trust relationships not required) or LDAP servers
(such as Active Directory or Site Server 3.0 Membership) to the roles.
Based on the role, users can create templates (the look and feel of a
Web site, or part thereof); create content (folders); add resources to
or create resource galleries; or configure channels (the process of staging
Web content). The flow is largely predetermined by the objects created
and rights assigned to roles on them.
|Figure 1. Assigning roles to users from one or
more NT domains determines what they can do in creating, approving
or managing Web sites and content. (Click image to view larger version.)
Now Here’s the Rub
I suspect that the biggest hurdle for implementing MSCMS in any organization
will be its cost. Microsoft openly admits that, at $42,999 per CPU, this
is the most expensive product it sells—and that’s before including the
costs of SQL Server 2000, which is required by MSCMS, as well as Visual
InterDev, training and other associated costs.
For organizations committed to .NET and needing a way to manage Web content,
including content generated by Commerce Server 2000, SharePoint Portal
Server and other .NET server, MSCMS is a great addition, but it doesn’t
Damir Bersinic, MCSE, MCDBA, MCSA, MCT, is an independent consultant, trainer and author.