Bringing cloud flexibility to Adobe Experience Manager

Bringing cloud flexibility to Adobe Experience Manager
Jan 17, 2020
Will the new cloud-native Adobe Experience Manager revolutionize the way brands manage and deliver digital experiences? Here’s our breakdown of the benefits, considerations, and impact of the announcement. 

Adobe Experience Manager is already well-recognized as the most powerful and extensible platform for building experience-driven websites. Over the last few years, Adobe has been implementing a cloud-focused plan and this week it made waves with the announcement of AEM as a Cloud Service.

Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service brings the benefits of the cloud to clients who have struggled with the limitations of on-premises or managed service AEM deployments in the past. The back-end architecture of the traditional AEM product made deploying a website that could truly scale to meet traffic flow (while being resilient and easy to maintain) a technical issue that took significant cost and engineering effort to solve. Challenges like these could be typically mitigated through automation and architecture strategies; this new version of AEM helps address the native scaling challenge through a modern cloud-oriented architecture.

Similar to its rollout of Campaign Standard, a cloud-based version of Campaign Classic, Adobe aims to please both IT and business stakeholders with the introduction of Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service. This announcement gives us a lot to unpack—what does it mean for current Adobe customers? How about organizations that are looking for the power of the Adobe ecosystem in a cloud-native environment? Here’s our perspective.

AEM as a Cloud Service features

Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service offers a number of benefits to the AEM platform:

  • Automatic vertical and horizontal auto-scaling to eliminate the entire problem of deciding how much infrastructure (or instance licensing) to purchase, and the worry of whether or not you have enough infrastructure to handle your next big marketing campaign or unexpected spike in traffic.
  • Always updated with fully automated behind-the-scenes version enhancements, with feature improvements and patches done automatically with blue-green deployments built-in, to put a permanent end to the headaches of multi-month AEM upgrade projects.
  • Cloud-scale asset processing allows Adobe Creative Cloud users to use AEM Assets as their cloud storage system, uploading and storing assets directly in cloud storage, while a distributed Assets Compute service powered by Adobe I/O takes care of bulk image renditions, video transcoding, and PDF manipulation. This allows AEM Assets to be a stable, resilient, cloud-scale assets platform to power your marketing efforts.
  • Built-in CI/CD pipeline through AEM Cloud Manager, with in-built code scanning, load testing, and security testing allows you to rapidly and reliably get your code to market, without having to invest months developing an involved Dev/Ops process.

Should All AEM workloads move to AEM as a Cloud Service immediately?

As the AEM as a Cloud Service product represents such a complete re-architecture of most of the back-end underpinnings of AEM while keeping the majority of APIs and user functionality intact, it is currently still in the beginning phases of rollout. As such, AEM as a Cloud Service may not be appropriate for all implementations of AEM. To learn more about the architecture implications, check out this in-depth overview of the technical changes involved, authored by a member of our team.

Adobe is still developing a number of features that may preclude your business moving to AEM as a Cloud Service. These features—AEM Forms, Adobe Commerce, AEM Screens, and other Dev/Ops deployment and flexibility features—may very well make your business more of a fit for an on-premises or self-hosted AEM installation at the present time.

Just like with any new release of any software, you will need to analyze AEM as a Cloud Service not only from a technical perspective, but within the context of your larger MarTech ecosystem as well. How does AEM Cloud fit into that strategy?

Why the AEM as a Cloud Service announcement matters to you

Why does this all matter in the grand scheme of things? Does moving to a cloud architecture make that much of a difference? Now that Adobe has joined its competitors in the experience cloud, here are four reasons to care:

1. More features, faster. Continuous improvements to the platform with regular releases versus annual “big” releases not only helps customers avoid potential large investments for upgrades, but gives Adobe the ability to deliver more features, faster.

2. Expanded reach. Moving AEM to the cloud opens Adobe up to more organizations. As a leader in almost every MarTech solution that organizations leverage, Adobe’s move to a native-cloud model will give mid-market organizations the opportunity to deploy these best-of-breed solutions.

3. Tighter integration. Adobe is unique in that it has its Creative Cloud, which many organizations leverage today. AEM as a Cloud Service offers tighter integration between the content creation process and the content marketing, operations, and monetization of that content with the Experience Cloud. This gives Adobe an even more unique value proposition as it pulls these clouds together and gives organizations the opportunity to maximize the value of their investments by optimizing workflows and bringing content to market faster.

4. Greater focus on customer experience and active participation. By standardizing a new architecture and other development practices, AEM as a Cloud Service allows us to co-create and address more business challenges companies need to solve as they embark on, continue, and optimize their digital transformations. Spending less time on technical aspects allows businesses to instead focus on customer experiences that enable active participation among end users.  

With this move to the cloud, Adobe has opened up a world of possibilities to companies that seek to take advantage of Adobe Experience Manager’s many features in a way that is scalable, resilient, and easy to maintain. As an Adobe Gold Solution Partner, ICF Next is excited to put this solution to work for our clients—and we hope you find ways to take advantage of it as well. Here’s to creating memorable customer experiences that drive real results for your business, at scale.

ICF’s global marketing services agency focuses on helping your organization find opportunity in disruption.
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