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Content as a Service (CaaS) vs CMS as a Service

Siavash Moazzami-Vahid

These days, you can get most things as a service. The XaaS model (everything as a service) has seen software, platforms, infrastructure, and more delivered to companies as a service over a network.

But for a growing company seeking to optimize their customer and employee experience, knowing the difference between a CMS as a Service and a Content as a Service (CaaS) platform is vital. After all, your web content is arguably your brand’s most important digital asset.

Here’s everything you need to know about a CMS as a Service, Content as a Service, and whether or not it’s possible to get the best of both worlds.

What is a CMS as a Service?

A CMS as a Service follows the SaaS approach and provides access to software (in this case, the CMS) to a client on a subscription basis. This means that the CMS is cloud-native, rolls out updates automatically for all its customers by default, and can be accessed using a web browser.

Since it is essentially a SaaS CMS, a CMS as a Service is a CMS in the cloud. But that doesn’t mean that every CMS that runs in the cloud provides CMS as a Service. For instance, other cloud-based CMSs may provide a platform as a service (PaaS) model. In this approach, companies can build and customize their own applications and manage their data using the IT infrastructure provided by the PaaS service. However, these PaaS systems require much more maintenance, unlike CMS as a Service, where the service provider handles everything.

Also, being in the cloud does not necessitate that the CMS uses APIs or has API-first architecture, which is necessary for CaaS (which we’ll get to in the next section).

CMS as a Service can provide a few benefits for organizations, including security and requiring less maintenance. This is due to not having to worry about additional hosting costs from a third-party provider.

The build vs buy decision

Businesses thinking about their next CMS usually consider building a custom platform themselves or buying a ready-made solution. CMS as a Service provides that ready-made solution. In fact, many custom-built CMS platforms suffer from the same drawbacks as traditional CMS platforms, where the tightly coupled architecture prevents flexibility and limits innovation when dealing with today’s modern digital channels.

Multi-tenant vs Multi-instance

Additionally, when considering cloud-based solutions, the need for a multi-tenant or multi-instance solution is also a cause for concern. Many traditional CMS platforms require you to use multiple instances and essentially have a separate CMS for managing individual sites. In some cases, this can be beneficial, but it can be problematic for large companies that want to maintain cohesion across all of their platforms.

With CMS as a Service, you can have a multi-tenant solution that simultaneously serves multiple web properties, allowing you to manage and operate hundreds of websites (perfect for enterprise companies) and share the same resources and content.

What is “Content as a Service”?

Now consider the concept of “content as a service”. What is it all about, you might wonder?

The idea of “content as a service” basically means that content is stored as raw data in a content repository. This raw data is then converted to a format that can be consumed by other channels and distributed to various platforms (e.g., websites, apps, smartwatches, IoT devices, and more) using APIs. It also enables that content to be reused across these various platforms.

In a traditional content management system, content is stored in a tightly coupled monolith. All of the content elements, including text, images, videos, layouts, and templates, are kept in one place. In years past , this made content management very straightforward, particularly for marketers and editors. They simply needed to create content, or edit one of the existing layouts or templates, in the same place where content sits.

Even today, this approach can be ideal for simple websites managed by a small team. Unfortunately, however, it limits how content can be used, restricting teams to publishing content on only one or two channels. If you wanted to publish similar content in another location, it wasn’t possible with only one CMS, which forced companies to create duplicate content resulting in numerous silos that were disjointed and seemed like they came from entirely separate entities.

Content as a Service, on the other hand, is essentially a headless CMS providing the ability to deliver content via APIs to any frontend, touchpoint, or a third-party platform. However, Content as a Service is not necessarily cloud-native, although most headless CMS are deployable via Amazon AWS, Azure, and others. Yet CaaS follows many of the principles of a headless CMS and, as such, can help with personalization, introducing headless commerce, and developing IoT-based experiences.

CMS as a Service vs. Content as a Service

So what’s the difference between CMS as a Service and Content as a Service?

Not every CMS as a Service or SaaS CMS can deliver content via APIs. For example, while is available in the cloud, it isn’t a headless CMS and cannot offer CaaS.

Also, not every headless CMS is in the cloud, and therefore not every headless CMS can provide CMS as a Service. Some headless CMS platforms can be deployed on your local server rather than be hosted in the cloud.

We understand that it might still be a bit challenging to spot the differences between CMS as a Service and Content as a Service, so we’ve provided the following comparison table:

CMS as a Service vs CaaS
CMS as a ServieContent as a Service (Caas)
Cloud-based Yes Not necessarily
API-firstNot necessarily Yes
Offers personalizationNot necessarily Yes
Supports omnichannel content deliveryNot necessarily Yes

Can a traditional CMS be used with the CaaS concept?

Technically, a traditional CMS cannot provide content as a service because, like a headless CMS, this requires APIs to deliver content to various channels. However, some popular traditional CMS platforms offer API-based options, such as Headless WordPress and Headless Drupal.

Storyblok: Combining CMS as a Service and Content as a Service

On top of being a headless CMS, which enables your brand to direct content to any device or experience, Storyblok combines CaaS with SaaS CMS benefits, giving you the best of both worlds. Storyblok removes the need to build your own custom CMS and can also be used by various teams. Even if they are scattered across the world, Storyblok’s CMS enables you to manage hundreds of websites using just one instance. With Storyblok, neither your marketers nor your developers are limited in the types of experiences they can create.

Marketers can orchestrate and publish content to any channel while calling upon our visual editor to quickly make changes and preview content before it gets published. Additionally, developers aren’t limited by specific templates or frameworks. Instead, they can work with the technologies and frameworks that best fit their project, including popular frameworks such as Next.js, Nuxt.js, and Gatsby.


Learn more about how Storyblok can be used to manage hundreds of pages by reading our Education First case study to see how they deployed a global site with over 9000 pages containing 54 languages.

Is Storyblok following the ideas of the Content as a Service concept?

Yes. Storyblok can act as your central content hub for all your digital assets. Through APIs, this content can be pushed to any digital platform.

Is Storyblok a CMS as a Service?

Yes, you can buy Storyblok with a recurring subscription model, and it provides all the benefits of SaaS.