Decoupled CMS
How an Open Digital Platform Can Eliminate Silos

Enterprises today must engage customers on a growing number of channels and devices, making a decoupled CMS an increasingly important part of the enterprise technology stack. A decoupled CMS, or headless CMS, enables enterprises to overcome limitations of their content management system in order to deliver more compelling and ambitious digital experiences.

As one of the most widely used CMS platforms, Drupal is an ideal candidate for organizations seeking a headless content management system. And as the leading platform for hosting and development for Drupal sites, Acquia now offers support for decoupled Drupal, providing developers with the tools to build the world’s greatest digital experiences.

What is a decoupled CMS?

As audiences consume digital information on a rapidly growing number of media, platforms and devices, enterprise CMS technologies grow more limited in their ability to deliver exceptional experiences across all channels. A single CMS simply can’t adequately deliver content to technologies as diverse as IoT devices, native mobile apps, conversational UIs such as Alexa, digital signage, virtual reality application smartwatches, chat platforms and CRM systems, to name a few.

A decoupled CMS separates the front-end and back-end of a content management system, allowing digital teams to use the back-end of the system for storing, managing and organizing content and exposing content to other front-end systems that are better suited for rendering content to a particular channel.

As one of the most widely used CMS applications for building web, mobile and digital experiences, Drupal has seen rising interest for headless Drupal solutions that enable developers to use this powerful open source technology for innovation across all channels. A headless Drupal 8 architecture would allow developers to build back-end applications with Drupal while using the tools of their choice to create exceptional front-end experiences.

Acquia Cloud Platform: powerful tools for making Drupal your decoupled CMS

Acquia Cloud Platform is a comprehensive and powerful platform for building, hosting and managing web, mobile and digital experiences. This fully managed Drupal hosting solution provides powerful developer tools with enterprise-grade security and 24/7 application support. And now with support for Node.js runtime, Acquia Cloud Platform also enables developers to build traditional Drupal sites as well as sites that use Drupal as a decoupled CMS. Using a single interface, developers can create back-end applications with Drupal and server-side rendered front-end applications using their preferred tools on the same platform. 

With Acquia Cloud Platform, digital teams can work with Drupal as:

  • Traditional Drupal, where Drupal retains control over the presentation and back-end data layers
  • Hybrid (progressively decoupled) Drupal, where developers layer a JavaScript framework over the existing Drupal front-end to deliver a highly interactive end-user experience.
  • Fully decoupled Drupal, where Drupal serves solely as the back-end data provider and developers use a JavaScript application with server-side rendering to manage the presentation and design of content.

The benefits of a decoupled CMS with Drupal and Acquia

The advantages of relying on Drupal and Acquia for a decoupled CMS include:

  • Providing users with a better experience: A decoupled CMS allows developers to choose the best tools for building front-ends that will more effectively respond to users’ demands and exceed users’ expectations.
  • Delivering a better developer experience: Developers can continue using the front-end platforms they prefer or have the most familiarity.
  • Simplifying content syndication: A decoupled CMS with Acquia makes it easier to adopt a “create once, publish anywhere” approach to content, allowing publishing and marketing teams to use Drupal as a central repository for content and publishing it to a wide variety of applications, media, devices and other front-end experiences.
  • Enabling faster production timelines: A decoupled CMS allows front-end and back-end teams to work in parallel, rather than requiring one team to complete work on a phase of development before the other team can continue. Additionally, developers no longer need to spend time switching between multiple platforms when using both Drupal and Node.js.
  • Future-proofing digital experiences: Building sites with a decoupled CMS makes it easier to overhaul sites in the future, as developers can simply redesign the front-end rather than needing to completely rebuild the back-end as well.

Why choose Acquia for a decoupled CMS solution?

Acquia has Drupal in its DNA. Dries Buytaert, the open source pioneer who created Drupal, is also Acquia’s founder, providing our developers with unique insight into the way that Drupal works. As an open digital experience platform specifically made for Drupal, Acquia makes it possible for developers to create, scale and manage digital experiences by leveraging the best that Drupal has to offer. And now, with support for Node.js runtime, Acquia is continuing its commitment to supporting a variety of headless architectures, ensuring that developers have the best possible tools for building the world’s most compelling digital experiences.

FAQs: What is a decoupled CMS?

What is a decoupled CMS?

A decoupled CMS is a content management system where the front-end that manages the way content is presented is separated from the back-end that manages the way information is stored, accessed and organized. In the past, traditional CMS solutions were tightly coupled – information stored in the back-end could only be rendered via the system’s front-end. But as digital information is increasingly consumed through a wider variety of devices and channels, developers have sought the ability to use the back-end capabilities of one CMS with the presentation, style or design capabilities of other front-end systems, creating a demand for decoupled CMS technologies.

What makes Drupal a good decoupled CMS?

Drupal is a free, highly versatile, open source content management system. Drupal is also highly reliable, scalable and secure, and offers a wealth of features and functionalities, making it one of the most widely used CMS solutions. Drupal’s back-end ability to manage and organize content makes it an excellent option for a decoupled CMS.

What is headless Drupal?

Headless Drupal is another way of describing a decoupled Drupal implementation – the terms are often used synonymously.

What are the benefits of a decoupled CMS with Acquia?

As an open experience platform built exclusively for Drupal with support for Node.js, Acquia provides a comprehensive and powerful solution for managing Drupal as a decoupled CMS. Developers have the ability to use a single interface to build traditional Drupal sites and to create back-end applications with Drupal and server-side rendered front-end applications on the same platform.