Experience Management: an overview

Last updated Friday, September 9, 2016 in Sitecore Experience Platform for Developer

Experience Management is a feature available in Sitecore Experience Platform 8.1. Experience Management enables you to run CMS-only mode, which allows you to run Sitecore XP without the Experience Database (xDB) enabled or purchasing xDB licenses.

In CMS-only mode, you can use Sitecore to create, manage, personalize and publish content to your websites.


To run CMS-only mode, you must have:

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


CMS-only mode can also work in a single-instance configuration, when the instance acts as a content management and content delivery server.


To run CMS-only mode, you must set the Xdb.enabled configuration setting to false in the Sitecore.Xdb.config configuration file.

When xDB.enabled is set to false, you do not have any access to the reporting or collection databases. Any functionality that depends on the xDB for data collection is not available and a number of applications in the Sitecore Experience Platform cannot run.


You can implement in-session personalization rules that are compatible with Experience Management, for example, based on IP Geolocation or goals triggered in a session, to provide personalized content to your contacts. You cannot, however, implement personalization rules based on historical data, like outcomes or past goals triggered, because the xDB stores that information.


In CMS-only mode, Sitecore XP applications and functionality can be described as:

  • Fully compatible
  • Compatible with limited functionality
  • Incompatible

Fully compatible

The following features can run in CMS-only mode without any changes:

  • Content editing in the Experience Editor
  • Device detection
  • IP Geolocation detection
  • Experience Explorer
  • Commerce Connect

Compatible with limited functionality

The following features can run in CMS-only mode with limitations:

  • Campaign Creator – runs without analytics functionality
  • Personalization – in-session personalization works, while personalization based on historical data is unavailable
  • Web Forms For Marketers – will provide a SQL solution in the future


The following features are incompatible with CMS-only mode:

  • Content testing
  • Email Experience Manager
  • Experience Analytics
  • Experience Profile
  • List Manager
  • Path Analyzer
  • Segmentation