Sep 27, 2023

XM cloud and the future of Sitecore for existing customers

Edward Kapuscinski

Edward Kapuscinski

XM cloud and the future of Sitecore for existing customers

I recently spent a wonderful day in Boston attending Sitecore’s DX event. While I will miss Symposium this year, I’m incredibly glad to have had the chance to get up to date on what’s going on in the Sitecore world.

The event was quite enlightening, and lots of valuable information for Sitecore customers was shared. I now want to share some of that with the folks I care about most: current Sitecore customers who are trying to figure out their own roadmaps.

The biggest question on any Sitecore customer’s mind today should be “What does all this mean for me?” I want to help answer that.

The Present: You Have Time & Options

Sitecore customers have invested significant time and money into their existing Sitecore XP implementations and want to make sure they’re getting the return on that investment while combating that ever-present “Fear of Missing Out.” FOMO is real, and to hear all the hype around XM Cloud and the rest of Sitecore’s composable lineup, it seems like a real possibility for current customers who aren’t ready to make the jump.

That’s not the reality, however, and I believe it’s the wrong way to think about what Sitecore’s current direction means. We want our technology vendors to be out ahead of where we are. After all, we can’t take advantage of tools that don’t exist, and developing and refining those tools takes time and effort. Sitecore is rightfully proud of the time and effort it put into its new tools and wants to share them with the world. It also knows that its current customers are the most likely first round of adopters of those tools.

But what Sitecore is not doing is forcing its customers to start using those tools. This should come as fantastic news to the legion of Sitecore customers, like many of our best clients, who are curious about these new offerings but may not be ready to take the jump today. We all know stories of technology companies who force their users to upgrade — from the “Please stop bugging me to upgrade to Windows 11” button that we have to keep clicking to the number of folks who still use, everyone agrees that being forced to adopt new tech isn’t the way to go.

Luckily, Sitecore is not falling into that category. As I’ve said before, Sitecore’s release of 10.3 last year and the planned release of 10.4 today means that, in a worst-case scenario, Sitecore customers have at least five years of mainstream support of the Sitecore XP that we all know and love. That runway is likely to be even longer, though, because Sitecore is acutely aware of the number of customers for whom XM Cloud is not even legally possible to use. They don’t want to lose those customers, so while innovation in Sitecore XP might slow down, the availability of it as an option for continued use likely isn’t going anywhere.

The Future: The Best of the Old & Best of the New

With that big question out of the way, what about the future?

I will admit that I have been a slow convert to headless development paradigms. On one hand, I thought the technologies involved, like React and Angular, were interesting for specific use cases but weren’t ready to replace .NET for rendering proper websites. And when being forced to do that, I viewed the common headless implementation paradigm as a step backward for web content managers because it meant having to get a developer involved for tasks that modern DXP owners take for granted. “Oh, you want to move that component from here to there on the page? Sure, we’ll include that change in the backlog for next month’s release.”

We operationalized experience management with tools like Sitecore Experience Editor more than a decade ago, and nobody wants to increase their dependence on developers again. When Sitecore announced they were going headless, I thought they were getting on that bandwagon. I’m happy to admit that I was very wrong.

Instead, Sitecore has taken the best of the old (an excellent content and experience management platform) and married it with the best of the new (a cloud-centric ownership experience and modern content delivery capabilities).

Sitecore XM Cloud is exactly that — the Sitecore we already love but modernized to take advantage of the developments we’ve seen since they operationalized experience management all those years ago. That means replacing on-premise– (or even public cloud–) hosted platforms with cloud-based ones, and replacing rendering technologies designed to create business forms (my beloved .NET) with ones designed to create performant, interactive, web experiences (my new favorite tech, Next.JS).

If you’re curious about why these tools are so compelling together, check out my deep dive on the Genius of Sitecore XM Cloud and Next.JS.

The Bottom Line

By modernizing its core product like this — keeping the best of the past and marrying it with the best of the future — Sitecore is able to give its customers the tools they need when they’re ready to modernize their own operations and embrace a composable stack.

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