Have you ever wondered, what are these new products released by Sitecore in the last few years? Maybe you’ve heard about products like Content Hub One, Sitecore Search, OrderCloud, or XM Cloud? If so, then this post is for you. I will go through each product from a client and an implementation point of view. And this will give you a better understanding about which product is for what purpose and where the boundary lines are between these services.
You should almost ignore what Sitecore was 4 years ago and what Sitecore is now. In the past, Sitecore was one platform with different licenses known as Sitecore XM (Sitecore Experience Manager) and Sitecore XP (Sitecore Experience Platform). Although, these products are mostly hosted by clients or partners in the cloud or on-premise. Despite this, we still we had to setup the infrastructure and install Sitecore with all the roles and components such as Connect, Identity Server, MS SQL database, etc.
To tackle this hosting and DevOps problem, Sitecore introduced a new service called Sitecore Managed Cloud. In short, this is a DevOps and hosting service provided by Sitecore itself which means Sitecore’s team sets up the infrastructure, release pipelines, and different environments (TEST, UAT, PROD, etc.) which are ready to use for the client and implementation team. You can think of it as a hired DevOps team with standards for Sitecore XM and XP. Developer teams can still deliver ASP .NET MVC solutions using the Sitecore MVC SDK for it, or they can go to the headless path and use Sitecore Headless Services instead of MVC – or WebForms or XSLT.
SaaS is an acronym for “Software as a Service”. In the Sitecore world this means headless, cloud-based and API-first software hosted, developed, and maintained by Sitecore. These systems are closed as well, from the viewpoint of customization of the original Sitecore product, because customizations can be done only by using the open APIs. We as a client or partner do not have direct access to the databases or the implementation and flows behind the APIs. The upside of using SaaS services in general is that the hosting of the Sitecore product is not a partner or client responsibility. This allows us to focus more on delivering the development rather than hosting and building the infrastructure.
Sitecore has 3 categories for its SaaS products: Content Cloud, Engagement Cloud, Commerce Cloud.
As the category says, all these products are around content management. They include various products with different purposes and prices for content management and delivery. And the products in these categories compete with Sitecore XM features.
Sitecore XM Cloud
Practically, XM Cloud is a modified version of Sitecore XM. This screenshot of the XM Cloud Launchpad, which is comparable to Sitecore XM launchpad, reveals more:
Sitecore Content Hub One
This is a lightweight and simpler product compared to XM Cloud. It’s one of the newest products and a competitor to other headless solutions such as Contentful and Umbraco Heartcore. It provides a simplified UI for content editing but allows for less customization than XM Cloud. It is again a headless service which can be consumed by any kind of “Head”. This product is a practical choice when content management is a must have for your organization (which it should be) but the content is not the key point for your website. For example, you need an e-commerce solution but you would still like to add landing pages to the website or maintain label translations. In this case the e-commerce implementation is more important but still makes content editable in a lightweight way. Here is a screenshot of the launchpad, just to give you a sense of how this product looks:
Sitecore Content Hub DAM
A Digital Asset Management platform can manage all your marketing assets (images, videos, documents, files). Instead of storing the assets in a CMS, it’s a separated platform to reuse files in different applications, managed from a single source. The workflows and tools are also optimised for asset management. Content models and content types are also customizable. This product is a good choice if you have a dedicated marketing team working on marketing materials, because the marketing team can work independently by uploading, updating and deleting assets. The platform features can be integrated to other platforms, e.g., a CMS to retrieve images from Content Hub DAM instead of the CMS database. Plus, this is a platform that replaces the Sitecore XM Media Library feature with a dedicated DAM service.
Sitecore Content Hub Operations
On top of Content Hub DAM, this service offers tools for designers and marketers to collaborate on. It helps with planning marketing campaigns using tools and UIs in a single system. It also gives you a campaign planner and other useful tools for your Sitecore Content Hub DAM to make collaboration easy for global marketing teams.
As the name says, this is a SaaS product to make a website searchable. On big websites, search is a key point to show relevant content to the user based on just a few keywords they type in. This is a replacement for Sitecore XM Content Search API in the SaaS world. Search implementations have 2 big parts – Indexing and Searching. Usually, indexing needs to be designed very well to able to implement a good search experience for the users. And Sitecore Search solves this for you partly because it can crawl your website and collect data to index or using the Ingestion API to feed Sitecore Search. To search data, the API can easily integrate into any application. It’s an extra that also uses AI and collects some customer data to personalise search results.
Engagement is all about optimizing the customer journey based on customer data, using automation. Products in this category are separated and cover the functionality of Sitecore XP.
CDP is all about collecting data on website visitors. The data in this context are the following: behavioral and interactional data. It tracks the user activity, e.g., clicks, scrolling, reading time, etc. And this helps organisations optimize their website and marketing based on real-time data. This product is similar to the on-premise Sitecore Analytics and Sitecore Profile from Sitecore XP.
Sitecore Personalize is the product to work with customer data and use for personalization. However, Sitecore Personalize can be used without Sitecore CDP and Sitecore CDP can be used without Sitecore Personalize. But, as Sitecore CDP is responsible for data collection, Sitecore Personalize can use this data for personalisation and automation. So, if you do not have yet a CDP platform and you need it, it is worth using Sitecore CDP and Sitecore Personalize together because Sitecore provides a native integration, as you can see on the screenshot above. Although, having a CDP platform behind Sitecore Personalize is not a must, it can be used for only in-session personalisation.
Sitecore Send is a SaaS based Email Marketing Service (EMS), where organisations can manage e-mail campaigns (e.g., newsletters). Compared to the previous products, it is not API-first. It has a nice UI where you can generate subscription forms and manage campaigns, segments, e-mail lists, automation etc. This product is comparable to Sitecore XP’s EXM (Email Experience Manager) module. For basic EMS features a developer won’t need to implement a subscription form or e-mail template. Instead, they can choose from plenty of default templates in the system which can be customised to your needs or created from scratch.
Sitecore Connect is a SaaS product that connects various products together with a low-code solution. This kind of product does not exist in the on-premise Sitecore XP world. Sitecore Connect accelerates the implementation of flows where multiple products must be connected. For example, in an e-commerce system on checkout, we would like to send data to CRM and CDP (e.g., CRM data for contacting and CDP data for marketing). Sitecore Connect helps to implement this flow in a low-code manner using flow diagrams to define the flow, instead of an API layer which connects the different systems. It is similar to Azure Logic Apps.
As the title says, Commerce Cloud is all about e-commerce. Two products are part of this category: Sitecore OrderCloud and Sitecore Discover. Products in this category are covering the functionality of Sitecore XC (Sitecore Experience Commerce).
Sitecore OrderCloud is a headless API-first e-commerce engine which enables organisations to use and configure the system for their needs. It supports simple solutions as well as complex solutions with multiple suppliers and audiences. This product is all about storing e-commerce data (product info, customer data, credit card, etc.) and running functions that make changes on the e-commerce data. These functions are extensive and well-designed to able to customise to your needs. They provide a UI to configure, troubleshoot and interact with the APIs but behind the scenes the UI calls APIs which can be called from any other application.
Sitecore Discover is an AI-based search engine optimised for e-commerce solutions. Based on historical user behaviour, it provides relevant search results. And although Sitecore OrderCloud provides search APIs, Sitecore Discover makes it personalised for your e-commerce solutions. Sitecore Discover is fully separated product from Sitecore OrderCloud so it can be integrated with any e-commerce solution. It also contains analytics and personalisation, optimised for commerce.
I hope this post clarifies the new Sitecore SaaS products and helps you to decide which platform is the best for your needs. I would like to highlight that these SaaS products from Sitecore are composable with other non-Sitecore products. So, if some other vendor’s product works better for you, but you still like a product from Sitecore SaaS stack, it’s compatible because of the nature of API-first solutions. If you are searching for a portal implementation partner, contact us!