05 Jul, 2017 | Fyin.com

The Swedish make a fine product but does it stack up?

Umbraco vs Episerver: a Comparison

Open-source or enterprise, Umbraco and Episerver platforms offer comparable capabilities and software quality. So how do you decide which one to choose?  The setting was a little more serious. I am being asked this question by Evan, the CIO of a large company, towards the end of a meeting where I am being grilled on CMS platforms. Having decided on a .NET CMS in order to leverage existing skill, the organization is considering the merits of Umbraco v Episerver.

The concern is not about product features, rather about finding a service structure that matches his company's needs. Umbraco and Episerver, the CMS platforms that GrowCreate specializes in, are technically compatible but deliver different service structures to different audiences. Core CMS capabilities and software quality are comparable - so which one is the best bet?

Umbraco vs Episerver - top 5 differences

The main area of divergence between the two systems is that Umbraco is open-source, whereas Episerver is a commercial or “enterprise” proposition. But what does that mean? The table below unpacks this question using 5 criteria in terms of budget, audience, features, roadmap and support.

(license + implementation)
Less than $60,000 / $80,000
More than $60,000 / $80,000
Content editors Entire digital team
Features Integrate 3rd party apps Integrated suite
Roadmap Democratic Visionary
Software support Agency Vendor


This is the defining criteria for a lot of projects: Episerver’s license starts at around 430K / $40K, and you will need at least as much for implementation. If your budget can’t stretch to these heights, open-source may be the only option. However, in the context of enterprise software (and certainly compared to SiteCore, its closest competitor), Episerver is very reasonably priced.


Niels Hartvig, the Founder of Umbraco project, never tires of telling people that “we focus solely on making a great CMS”. This focus has driven Umbraco to deliver a first-class experience for content editors. Episerver is designed for the wider array of digital professionals found in larger organizations, including marketers, e-commerce managers and senior stakeholders.

There’s plenty of companies focusing on marketing for web while we focus solely on making a great CMS that’s open for 3rd parties— Niels Hartvig


The second half of the tweet quoted in the previous point is “...a great CMS that’s open to 3rd parties”, and indeed Umbraco compensates for CMS-only functionality by making itself a joy to integrate with commerce, personalization or campaign systems. Larger companies, perhaps wary of the risk inherent in integration projects might well opt for a pre-integrated system like Episerver.


Umbraco’s product development is delivered by incredible community of developers: friendly, inclusive and self-organizing, it delivers great software at no cost. However, the democratic nature of open-source can suppress more visionary voices. In contrast, Episerver’s license fees fund a more planned roadmap, which explain the system's pole position in the Gartner and Forrester CMS reviews.

Episerver's license fees explain the system's pole position in the Gartner and Forrester CMS reviews


When something’s wrong with your Umbraco site, you call the agency. When Episerver plays up, you (and your agency) call Episerver. The former is more intimate: agencies work with fewer clients and are generally more responsive. Yet the latter is more stable; Episerver is a large corporation itself, with multi-discipline resources available around the clock.

So what should you do?

$60K won’t buy you better software,
it will buy you a bigger team though...

Umbraco and Episerver are both top-notch systems, so $60K won’t buy you better software. It does buy you a bigger team though: developers to build it, lawyers to fuss over contracts, a support team to call at 3am, sales people to pester you about upgrades. If you just care about the software, save yourself the money and go with Umbraco. If you want the team, let’s call Episerver.

Posted By: Dan

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