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Choosing a DXP: Kentico Xperience or Sitecore

Kentico Xperience and Sitecore Experience Platform are two industry leading .NET-based DXPs with a broad feature set, long history, and strong roadmap. Mid- to large-sized organisations on a Microsoft tech stack will often find themselves researching and potentially trying to decide which platform suits them best. We use our expertise to break down the key differences between these fantastic platforms and help you choose one or the other.

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By Andy Thompson, 29 November 202115 minute read

Kentico Xperience vs Sitecore Experience Platform - why?  

This post has been written to help our clients (and you, the reader) make the right decision when choosing a new CMS or DXP. Xperience and Sitecore are two common platforms that we find our clients comparing so we thought we'd sum up our viewpoint and share it with the wider world. 

Xperience by Kentico
Sitecore logo

Why trust our viewpoint? 

Well, unlike the many technology analysts out there, we've actually implemented projects on these platforms and have two specialists in Rizki Satria (Senior Developer and Sitecore Platform Lead) and Andy Thompson (CTO and Xperience MVP) carrying out this comparison for you. 

Point in time comparison

These platforms are in active development and have strong roadmaps, so it's important to note exactly which versions or releases we're comparing in this post as of November 2021.

Kentico Xperience is the flagship DXP product from Kentico Software, headquartered in The Czech Republic and with a global presence. We're looking specifically at the latest version 13, Refresh 3, released on 14 September 2021. We presume you'll be using the MVC development model as recommended and as the only model available in Xperience 13+, and .NET 5 (Core) as your underlying Microsoft Framework for your website project.

Sitecore was founded in 2001 in Denmark and is now headquartered in the USA. Sitecore provide a suite of products including Sitecore Experience Manager, Sitecore Experience Platform, Sitecore Experience Commerce, and Sitecore Content Hub. Their latest version at time of writing is Sitecore 10, which we're comparing here.

Kentico Xperience 13 dashboard screenshot
Screenshot of Sitecore dashboard

CMS Comparison Matrix

In our How to choose the right CMS article, we provided a blank, editable CMS Comparison Matrix to help you do an apples-to-apples comparison between two CMS or DXPs, for your specific needs.

The good news with this Xperience vs Sitecore comparison, is we've filled out most of that Comparison Matrix spreadsheet for you! But in this post we also dive into a detailed discussion of the similarities and key differences. Often many of the 'standard' features of a DXP are matched quite closely by competing platforms, so it's these differences which tend to drive decisions between them.

The completed, downloadable copy of the CMS Comparison Matrix is available at the bottom of this post.

Technology research services

Sitecore has amazingly been listed as a Leader in Gartner's Web Content Management (WCM) Magic Quadrant for over a decade. Since Gartner started producing a dedicated DXP Magic Quadrant, Sitecore has also been listed in it consistently as a Leader. Similarly, it always shows strongly in Forrester's various Wave reports.

Kentico Xperience is listed as a Contender in the Forrester Wave: Agile Content Management Systems report and as a Niche Player in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms. Xperience also scores particularly well in actual user reviews, with average ratings of 4.5 and 4.3 out of 5 stars, from Gartner and G2 Crowd.

Key similarities

Both platforms are ASP.NET MVC Content Management Systems, with strong active development, a roadmap for future versions, and support the latest .NET Core MVC (specifically .NET 5+) Microsoft technology for development.

Kentico Xperience and Sitecore both offer a broad feature set that covers enterprise content management, commerce, and marketing functionality.

Both platforms offer strong support for running multiple sites from one installation, as well as multiple languages or culture variants for your websites, and for the CMS interface itself.

Both respect PII and privacy laws such as GDPR with dedicated functionality or modules to deal with the typical scenarios website administrators are likely to face dealing with these kinds of issues.

Sitecore and Kentico have global implementation partner networks, and a strong local presence in Australia.

Both vendors offer annual subscription licensing, although their pricing differs considerably (see below). Sitecore also offers perpetual (one-off up-front) licensing, but it is discouraged and not all features are available under that licensing model.

Key differences

Unified platform v suite of products

Xperience offers all of its comprehensive feature set 'out of the box' - there are no additional modules to purchase separately and install for features such as advanced workflows, marketing automation, optimisation/testing, commerce, analytics, reporting, and forms. 

These are all built and supported by Kentico Software directly, and have a consistent interface and unified documentation and support. Kentico Xperience is a single product in single codebase. Its feature set, documentation, APIs and UI are relatively consistent and rock-solid.

Like many other enterprise DXP vendors, Sitecore has opted for more of an acquisitive approach to building out their offering, rather than building everything in-house. This means behind the scenes, the platform is a combination of a number of products that have been acquired. 

Sitecore position their suite of products as the Sitecore Experience Cloud, with four primary components: Experience Manager (the core CMS), Experience Platform (optimisation, testing, marketing automation), Experience Commerce, and Content Hub. Sitecore has also recently acquired Boxever (a Customer Data Platform) and Four51 (B2B and B2C commerce). Some have been fully integrated into the core Sitecore Experience Platform, however some remain as stand-alone, complementary products, such as Sitecore Content Hub (a 2018 acquisition of Stylelabs). 

Price & licence structure

While both vendors offer annual subscriptions, the pricing model used to produce a price for each customer's licence are very different.

Xperience offers a per-site licensing cost with two simple tiers, Business for basic content management, and Enterprise which includes advanced workflow and digital marketing and automation features. Kentico are very transparent with this pricing and list it directly on their website. They also offer Corporate licences at a flat fee for unlimited sites.

Sitecore's package-based pricing structure is considerably more complex. Their three core products (not including Content Hub) are offered at three different subscription tiers – Standard, Corporate, and Enterprise – primarily based on visits/page views. Add-on modules such as JSS (headless API) and Email Experience Manager are priced separately, although some are included in their Enterprise tier. Content Hub is also licensed and priced separately.

To obtain a quote for Sitecore, you will need to contact one of their Account Managers.

Specific pricing for some configurations (and potentially including discounts) means sometimes the prices can be competitive. For example, the Corporate licence for Xperience that allows for unlimited sites, brings its price closer to that of Sitecore. Generally speaking, for a single site, Sitecore is significantly more expensive than Kentico Xperience.

Managed cloud (PaaS) v self-managed

Kentico Xperience is very well-optimised for cloud hosting, and in fact it was the first DXP to be certified by Microsoft to run in Azure. Customers or agencies need to manage this themselves, although it is much more straightforward and cost-effective to do with Xperience than it is for Sitecore. Kentico does not presently include fully managed cloud hosting for your site, however a full Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering is on their roadmap for the next generation of Kentico Xperience. This full SaaS offering is a big focus for the Kentico team and will likely be launched in 2022.

Sitecore can also be self-managed, and historically would be due to the relatively complex infrastructure and hosting requirements compared to other .NET DXPs. In recent years they have developed a managed cloud hosting offering (PaaS) in partnership with local enterprise cloud providers, as an effort to simplify this process for customers. The service provides hosting, monitoring and support, but still gives developers access to the underlying Sitecore applications to deploy custom code.

Depth of features

While both platforms have quite a broad feature set, or in other words, many features, Sitecore goes deeper with some.

Sitecore's extremely mature core CMS platform, and acquisitions of significant platforms in the areas of commerce, marketing, and content operations, provides an enterprise feature set that is difficult to match for any competitor (with a matching enterprise price tag). For example:

  • Experience Manager in Sitecore is more flexible and feature rich than Kentico's Page Builder, although Kentico has bridged the gap a little recently since version 12, with their completely re-built MVC Page Builder. 
  • The Boxever acquisition gives Sitecore a full-blown Customer Data Platform (CDP), while typically you would need to integrate Xperience with a third-party CDP.
  • Sitecore's Four51 acquisition gives them a full-blown B2B and B2C commerce feature. Xperience does have commerce functionality within its unified platform, but it's not as advanced, and suited more for fairly typical B2C scenarios.
  • Sitecore's Content Hub product (via its acquisition of StyleLabs) is a comprehensive Digital Asset Management (DAM), Product Information Management (PIM), and Marketing Resource Management (MRM) platform.
  • Reporting inside the Sitecore platform goes much deeper, particularly around customer experience, behaviour and segmentation, driving a particularly strong feature set around content personalisation.

Xperience's feature set is broad and covers all the bases for many customers, particularly around content management and digital marketing, but just can't match the depth in some areas provided by Sitecore's acquisitions of complete products.

Headless approach

When it comes to providing a headless solution for omnichannel use cases, Kentico and Sitecore as vendors both service headless use cases, but have taken different approaches.

Sitecore takes a 'hybrid' approach, where customers use the same core CMS to manage their structured content, and there is a dedicated JavaScript SDK called JSS available as a paid add-on, to expose content from within the CMS in a structured way similar to a dedicated headless CMS.

Kentico Xperience as a stand-alone platform only provides more traditional REST APIs, and for their headless CMS, they have chosen to produce a completely separate, dedicated Content-as-a-Service platform in Kontent by Kentico. It is possible to integrate the two products to enable you to serve your traditional Xperience content through Kontent, similarly to how the JSS provides structured content from Sitecore.

Infrastructure requirements

Xperience utilises a very straightforward Microsoft stack – two web applications (one for the administration interface and one for your website) and an SQL Server database (although you have the option of splitting this in two if you want PII stored separately). You might optionally want to add Azure Search and some Application Insights (logging) services. That's it, even if you're using literally every feature available in the platform, the only thing you'll need to do is utilise horizontal or vertical scaling to improve performance by incrementally adding resources.

Sitecore's infrastructure requirements, even for an 'extra small' production site, start at three web servers and four databases. For a large installation of the entire Experience Platform, you can quickly get up to 10+ web apps and 15+ databases, plus a host of additional services for search, app insights and cache.

Setup and configuration effort

Kentico Xperience is relatively easy for a developer to get set up with. The CMS application is easily installed with a single executable package downloaded from Kentico, and for the presentation website, it's as simple as including the Xperience NuGet packages in a Visual Studio solution.

With Sitecore, the complex infrastructure requirements mentioned above also extend to difficulty getting developers up and running quickly. It can take quite a bit of time to configure all the infrastructure correctly on a developer's machine, leading many agencies to use Virtual Machines or templates that need to be maintained.

Typically it can take multiple days to onboard a new developer with Sitecore, where with Xperience it is more likely to be hours.

Administration requirements

Kentico Xperience's all-in-one feature set means it can be managed by a relatively small team of multi-skilled digital marketers working in one platform.

Animated GIF of Uncle Ben from Spider-Man saying 'with great power comes great responsibility'

The sheer size of the Sitecore platform means you are going to need a significant team, likely trained specifically in which aspect of the platform they're managing. Large organisations will commonly need a team of 5-10 or more dedicated to working on the platform, in order to fully leverage the power of the platform they have invested significantly in.

Time to market

For the reasons above - infrastructure, administration, setup, configuration, development effort, smaller teams, and the multiple products that make up the Sitecore suite versus the Xperience unified platform - typically things just happen more quickly with Xperience.

Sitecore have produced Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) specifically as an effort to reduce their time to market. SXA is essentially a development methodology and set of components that designers and developers can leverage to build websites more quickly. These components are built to take advantage of Sitecore's content-management and marketing features out of the box, and can be customised to suit customer needs.

The SXA has had a mixed reception among seasoned Sitecore developers, as its use enforces certain development practices that might not match their experience or preference. When used properly, it can reduce time to market.

Developer community

Having been around for a very long time and with a large global presence, Sitecore's development community is very large. There are a number of third-party extensions and add-ons available. Sitecore has a very extensive MVP program with many active professionals across a range of different subjects.

Xperience has a limited open-source community, supported largely by their own in-house DevRel team, and a small number of MVPs. A relatively smaller number of notable, well-supported third-party licensed packages such as BizStream's Toolkit for Kentico are available.

Why would you choose Kentico Xperience?

The primary reasons we see a customer going for Kentico Xperience rather than Sitecore are:

Unified platform

Kentico Xperience uniquely offers a complete suite of content management, online marketing, and commerce features out-of-the-box, in a single unified platform supported by a single vendor, with a single licence fee. If Xperience's feature set covers most of your requirements, it's a great option.

Kentico Experience feature overview

Value for money

Mid- to large-sized enterprises who want a full-featured, enterprise-capable DXP with very strong local support and SLAs from a licensed vendor, will find the broad feature set and price of Xperience to be extremely competitive against Sitecore. In many cases, the broad feature set in Kentico Xperience more than covers the vast majority of a customer's requirements, so they get an excellent return on investment compared to higher-priced competitors, as they're not paying for additional advanced features that they are not going to use.

Ease of setup and time to market

Due to its relatively simple infrastructure requirements, straight-forward install process, and everything being unified into a single platform, Kentico Xperience is much easier for teams to set up and get going with. Smaller teams on smaller budgets with shorter timeframes enjoy the ability to be up and running within hours rather than days or weeks.

For small- to medium-sized projects without super complex requirements or extensive customisation, time to market is typically very quick for Kentico Xperience projects. This is due to a combination of its ease of setup and configuration and unified platform, but also because typically customers will choose the platform when their requirements are a little more straight-forward than the projects that lean toward Sitecore.

Why would you choose Sitecore?

The key reasons we see people leaning toward Sitecore Experience Platform as their DXP include:

Depth of features

The primary reason is usually the extremely deep and mature feature set Sitecore offer, particularly around their Experience Manager editing experience, reporting, and acquisitions providing full-blown CDP, B2B and B2C commerce, DAM and PIM functionality.

To utilise all of these features, it requires significant investment both in terms of money and time (an internal team to manage it). If you have the budget to spend, and the team to manage it, it's an extremely powerful platform.

Screenshot of Sitecore analytics

Managed cloud (Platform-as-a-Service) offering

There is a definite trend of DXP vendors increasingly offering to manage the entire platform for customers, rather than simply providing software and expecting them to manage it themselves, and Sitecore is no exception. Similarly enterprises are increasingly looking to leverage managed cloud infrastructure rather than being responsible for managing their own servers.

Considering the considerable infrastructure and management requirement of a Sitecore installation, and indeed most enterprise DXP platforms, their fully managed cloud offering can make it an attractive option for larger organisations.

Recommendations from research services organisations

This is an interesting factor, as it is very important to some organisations, and much less important to others. However, it is one that we do regularly see playing a big part in the decision process.

If it is important to you and your organisation, then it's impossible to ignore the dominant position Sitecore enjoys in reports from the various research services organisations, such as Gartner and Forrester. Incredibly strong industry reviews and a vast portfolio of case studies from enterprise customers often provide the confidence larger organisations need to make a significant investment in the platform.

Remember your personal preference

We implement multiple similar platforms for a reason – there is no obvious 'winner' in all cases. If one platform was better in every case than another, we wouldn't be working with both. For example, we've just completed a large project with ANZIIF on the Sitecore platform, and recently launched the new Heart Foundation website on Kentico Xperience.

If none of the reasons we've listed in this post are particularly strong for you, it could come down to just which platform you or your team prefer. That's why we include fields just for that in our CMS Comparison Matrix, which we've left blank, because that part is up to you!

Book a demo, watch some videos, run an online trial. Get your hands on the platform and see what works best for you and your team.

Value for money/return on investment

The choice between Sitecore and Kentico Xperience often comes down to your level of financial investment, and how much return you expect to get from that investment. Sitecore offers an extremely powerful platform, with a broad and deep feature set that requires significant investment – both financially and in terms of time and effort – to leverage fully, and it comes with a significant price tag to match. Kentico Xperience offers a unified platform and a broad content-management and online marketing feature set that satisfies the requirements for many customers 'out of the box', at a very competitive price point for mid-sized enterprises.

Download our detailed comparison of Kentico Xperience and Sitecore

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