During the spectacle of the Sitecore Symposium 2019 opening keynote, Sitecore CEO Mark Frost casually dropped a little nugget of news about the future of Sitecore: a software-as-a-service option is launching in 2020 and will evolve into a new offering. A collective (but silent) groan could be heard from the developers in the room. Was this it? Did the integrators, partners, and developers in the room just become a dying breed?
Let’s take a step back and briefly examine what SaaS might mean for the future of the Sitecore ecosystem.
Sitecore SaaS Is a Ways Off
Officially, Sitecore is launching their SaaS product in the summer of 2020. The announcement quickly came with an asterisk: the initial product will only cover simple market needs (my best guess: simple CMS needs and simple personalization scenarios). Even if Sitecore were to go full-SaaS today, there are still thousands of existing and upcoming deployments that need world-class implementation partners, developers, and MVPs to keep them running smoothly for years to come.
SaaS Helps Cover New Markets
Sitecore currently serves mid- to large-market segments quite well, but it has always struggled to scale its message, tooling, and marketing platform to smaller markets. Licensing and integration costs are usually the culprits for this gap. With consumption-based licensing becoming more normal for Sitecore customers, SaaS-based offerings are the next logical step in addressing smaller market opportunities. Ideally, SaaS is a gateway for smaller customers to get hooked on Sitecore’s platform and eventually scale up to larger installations and explore more complex needs.
Customization & Integration: Sitecore’s Strengths
Sitecore has the reputation of being a developer-centric platform. With an expansive API, pipeline-based process architecture, and a flexible configuration system, developers and businesses can bend Sitecore to their will. This deep customization and integration potential has traditionally been Sitecore’s market strength, and no immediate SaaS option will be able to replicate that flexibility. Developers will certainly never be able to build and deploy back-end code to Sitecore’s SaaS products, but configuration-based customization and front-end integrations will likely be the future of differentiation for that line of products.