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 an innovative digital transformation agency, specializing in delivering the digital experience, commerce, and marketing solutions. For nearly two decades, we have been helping traditional businesses transform and create dynamic digital cultures through disruptive strategies and agile deployment of innovative solutions.

Hemanth Mudigolam

Written By

Hemanth Mudigolam