Cascade Server - The Agnostic CMS
Updated February 25, 2015
Cascade Server - The Agnostic CMS
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Cascade Server
Cascade Server is being used by roughly 1500 people at Indiana University to manage around 400 sites from 7 campuses including IU Bloomington, IUPUI Indianapolis, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend, IU Southeast, and IUPUC Columbus. We have a decentralized IT infrastructure so we needed a push CMS that would allow people to use one system to publish to many different types of web servers. We also decided to use Cascade Server to mitigate risk since other dynamic CMS sites were regularly getting compromised. The sites managed on Cascade Server include marketing gateway sites like www.iu.edu, as well as admissions, departmental sites, schools, news and much more.
- Cascade Server is generally very secure because most of the time it publishes out static HTML content. We've not had a compromised site using Cascade Server.
- The Hannon Hill team is very good at providing quick support. They have a support forum, a Knowledge Base and also an idea exchange where you can submit feature requests.
- Cascade Server is good at being agnostic when it comes to installing the software and publishing the content to a web server.
- Unlike most content management systems I was use to, Cascade Server has a publishing queue that takes time to render and then publish out your content. The queue is shared among all users of the site. We've set best practices to publishing (such as never publish the full-site during business hours).
- Most content management systems provide community plugins and themes, however Cascade Server does not.
- When you first come into Cascade Server as a developer, you'll find there are a lot of connections to piece together a page. In other words, the learning curve is steep.
- We've moved some of our vulnerable sites to Cascade Server to satisfy our goal of reducing redundant systems and mitigating risk.
- IU decided this is the CMS that will be supported and our users have been happy with the support we provide. In general we do not support any other CMS.
- Our marketing department has retired most of their legacy servers/websites after moving to Cascade Server, saving time and money.
The learning curve is steep for Cascade Server so if your goal is to get a new site up quickly then you may look elsewhere. However, if you have the time Cascade Server is worth the investment since it's secure and easily allows users and groups to manage their site's content. The support and community for Cascade Server is good because it's a fairly small product so people are always happy to help. As a developer, if you learn Cascade Server, you will become a very attractive candidate for jobs using Cascade Server.
Cascade Server is good for static content sites. However, it's a little bit involved to create a dynamic web site in Cascade Server (although possible). I would also recommend looking into the universal migration tool which is a CMS agnostic tool for copying the content from any live website to Cascade Server. Although Cascade Server can run on any environment I think it's common to install it on Apache and MySQL. Since files are stored in the database as BLOBs the database can get pretty large (upwards of 100 GB). This doesn't seem to have any impact on performance.
Using Cascade Server
At this point we are satisfied with Cascade Server and do not plan to transition into another CMS in the future. I am not the person who decides if we renew or not, but I will likely recommend that we stick with Cascade Server. We really need a system that is secure and can push out content to many different servers. In the future I could imagine us switching to the cloud service Hannon Hill provides.