Episerver Ascend concluded a week ago and if you did not attend this year you should strongly consider attending in 2020. There are so many opportunities to learn something new at this conference. Whether it is implementation tricks from labs, features that other companies and industries are putting to work with the product, or even a look at the trends and the product roadmap for the next few years. In this post, we are going to take a look at this last point and talk a little bit about two big themes coming out of Ascend that you should be paying attention to if you are considering a project in 2020.
#1: Azure & DXC Are Not Slowing Down
The benefits of cloud hosting from a security and scaling perspective have been well documented. So has Episerver’s relationship as a partner with Microsoft. What particularly stuck out to me in sessions during the conference was that this isn’t a one way street in terms of partnership. Episerver is a major player in regards to Azure consumption and Microsoft has been working to enable features within Azure that can greatly benefit the Digital Experience Cloud (DXC).
During one of the sessions, Aniel Sud, the Sr. Director of Software Development at Episerver showcased in a co-presentation with Microsoft some of the new features coming to Azure around logging and alerts. To summarize, these newer features within Azure will allow us to get more log data around our Episerver applications so that we can write our own detailed queries against Azure logs in real-time to be more proactive in application querying and monitoring. This means not only a quicker response to errors within our production applications but also the ability to monitor performance at a granular level to be more proactive against weaknesses in our code as well as generate notifications regarding scaling of the application.
In another session, Jeff Cheal, Sr. Customer Product Strategy Director covered many of the different areas of value in moving your Episerver applications to the cloud through DXC. It has become apparent to me over the past year that regardless of the size of your organization, there are huge benefits of moving to the cloud. This session focused greatly on ROI that clients are seeing by utilizing DXC and ways to maximize this within your own organization.
Perhaps one of the greatest motivators to moving to DXC, however, is that clients that are hosting their applications in the DXC are taking full advantage of the products that Episerver has to offer. Clients who are on DXC are more likely to be using personalization features like Advance and Perform as well as advanced analytics from Insight. They are using Find as a search engine and expanding upon its capabilities by tapping into these other products for personalized searches that engage their customers.
The step up from the base CMS or Commerce installation into these advanced products is a step that many companies never take, which is a shame. It is a big initiative to redesign a website and an even bigger hurdle to re-platform and migrate content. However, the biggest gains in customer retention and SEO often come from refining your site through personalization and a deeper study of analytics to engage them.
#2: Mosey, Foundation, and Starter Sites
If you are a developer, you might have heard through the grapevine that this was coming. Alloy has been the Episerver demo site for several years. While it serves the purpose of putting together a quick proof of concept, most developers would agree it is far from a great foundation for how to structure your Episerver solutions. As an alternative, many developers look to Quicksilver for recommended project structure and code samples. The problem is that Quicksilver is a Commerce project and doesn’t quite fit the model developers want for a CMS project.
Enter Mosey. Mosey is the new Episerver demo site and it is exactly what we have been hoping to see for some time. It is built upon Episerver Foundation and gives you a great look at how to structure your Episerver application against modern best practices. My colleagues will be publishing a few articles over the next week that take a deeper dive into Mosey to showcase what is available and how to set it up. A link to Episerver’s GitHub account can be found here if you would like to take a look at all of the existing projects currently out there.
Instead of going into detail on Mosey, I would like to touch upon something more high level and extremely valuable to both partners and customers who do their own development internally. Mosey is just a single example of a starter site and is modeled after the retail market. As we look forward into next year, Episerver plans to expand upon this concept into other verticals so that developers have an immediate source of code and content to reference in how they would build sites more closely tailored to their needs. This is such as boon to developers as we no longer need to deal with a “one size fits all” solution and can focus on the structure, packages, add-ons, and configurations that are typical in a solution for a given vertical. Code examples are key to getting new developers up to speed. So more examples is always a positive! All of this will be utilizing Foundation. So it isn’t completely disconnected and will have common ground to stand on.
Episerver Ascend 2019 was a big event with lots of information. The two trends mentioned were just my observations and didn’t even touch on other tracks such as marketing automation and commerce. It looks like 2020 is going to be a big year and strongly recommend planning to attend Ascend 2020, particularly if you are a newer customer and have never experienced the event.
As I said earlier, the DXC and Azure story continues to get better and better. If you are an organization on the fence about whether to host internally or through DXC, it may be worth asking whether you realistically think will reach your full potential by staying on premise? On the flip side, if you have already made the investment to move to DXC, start thinking about how you can further engage your customers and which products can help you get there. It may be more cost-effective than you realize and there can be significant returns in taking the next step.
If you are a developer, it is a good time to be alive. Foundation and Mosey will give us a solid path to follow and getting new team members up to speed will be easier than ever before. Pay attention to the Episerver GitHub repo as well as World over the coming weeks to get the latest on these developments. I think you’ll like what you see!
Because Episerver has seen an improved position year-over-year in both its ability to execute and its completeness of vision, Gartner recognized Episerver as one of the top four Web Content Management vendors in its recent Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management Q3 2019.