Sitecore 8.1 – Is the CMS-Only Option Right for Your Business?

By Hemanth Mudigolam 2 min read

Last October, Sitecore launched the next generation of its flagship experience management software, Experience Platform™ (XP) 8.1. There was a lot of buzz about it in the Sitecore community (including here at TA Digital) because 8.1 includes many of the enhancements that users, developers and partners have been asking for since the 8.0 release.

Predictably, some of these features are drawing more fanfare than others, like enhanced contextual intelligence, for example. This capability gives businesses deeper insight, down to each visit, by providing essential detail and intelligence about their visitors – who they are, what they care about, and what they need – thus enabling marketers to deliver the most relevant piece of content at precisely the right moment.

There are many other exciting improvements. You can read about them in detail here.

There’s one 8.1 feature, in particular, we want to discuss today – one that, amidst the hoopla surrounding the others, may have flown under your radar: the new “Experience Manager CMS-Only Mode” option.

xDB and the Marketing Foundation

Version 8.1 focuses extensively on improving Sitecore’s Marketing Foundation, including the Sitecore Experience Database or xDB, which was introduced back in version 7.5. In simple terms, xDB is the massive central-repository in which consumer data from all touchpoints in all channels are stored.

Unlocking full xDB and Experience Platform access in 8.1 requires buying the full version and paying extra for a license. If you’re not ready to do so, you may instead choose Sitecore’s CMS-Only purchase option, which requires no xDB license and offers the marketing and content-management capabilities many businesses need right now, with the ability to scale-up later on.

Going CMS-Only is a great alternative for smaller, still-growing businesses and others with big plans but limited resources. You get a highly scalable, world-class CMS that meets your needs today while avoiding fees for advanced features you may not use for years – if ever. In addition, the CMS-Only option lets you:

  • Upgrade at your own pace
  • Reduce the size, number and cost of servers
  • Save on related support-staff costs

CMS-Only Mode is fully compatible with:

  • Experience Explorer
  • Content and Experience Editor
  • Device Detection
  • IP Geo-Location Detection

Limitations and Incompatibilities

You can find the list of XP features and functions Sitecore has declared limited, or incompatible, with CMS-Only Mode on the company website.

If you already have the following in place, you’re ready to use the CMS-Only option right now:

  • Sitecore XP 8.1 or later
  • A SQL server or MongoDB database
  • A content-management and content-delivery server
  • A valid CMS-only Sitecore license

Explore Additional Resources

Learn how you can select the best Digital Experience platform for your business.

Our Certified Sitecore Experience Platform and Sitecore MVP’s specialize in helping you deliver seamless contextually personalized customer experiences.


We have one of the largest and deepest multi-solutions digital consulting teams in the world. Our proprietary processes and years of Digital Experience expertise have earned us a 97% customer satisfaction rating with our clients ranging from Global Fortune 1000 to Mid-Market Enterprises, leading educational institutions, and Non-Profits.

Contact us and find out if the Sitecore 8.1 CMS-Only option is right for you.

About TA Digital

TA Digital is the only global boutique agency that delivers the “best of both worlds” to clients seeking to achieve organizational success through digital transformation. Unlike smaller, regional agencies that lack the ability to scale or large organizations that succumb to a quantity-over-quality approach, we offer resource diversity while also providing meticulous attention to the details that enable strategic success.

Over the past 20 years, TA Digital has positioned clients to achieve digital maturity by focusing on data, customer-centricity and exponential return on investment; by melding exceptional user experience and data-driven methodologies with artificial intelligence and machine learning, we enable digital transformations that intelligently build upon the strategies we set into motion. We are known as a global leader that assists marketing and technology executives in understanding the digital ecosystem while identifying cultural and operational gaps within their business – ultimately ushering organizations toward a more mature model and profitable digital landscape.

Recognized in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2020 Inc. 5000 list as one of the most successful technology companies in the United States, TA Digital is pleased also to share high-level strategic partnerships with world class digital experience platform companies like Adobe, SAP and Salesforce and possess global partnerships with industry leaders such as Sitecore, Episerver, Elastic Path, BigCommerce, AWS, Azure and Coveo.

Hemanth Mudigolam

Written By

Hemanth Mudigolam