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One of the benefits to being a Sitecore MVP and working for a Sitecore Platinum Implementation Partner is having access to Sitecore’s roadmap and planning. A couple of weeks ago Sitecore provided advanced access to a Release to Technology (RTT) version of Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) 8.1 which is due out sometime in the next few weeks. We’ve enjoyed getting to see some of the features in the new product and were even more excited about some of the updated details revealed this week at Sitecore’s annual MVP Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana.
As the Sitecore platform continues to grow, Sitecore will be looking to support 3 primary versions of the product: 7.2, 8.0, and 8.1. While other versions of the product will continue to be supported, these 3 will be target of a proactive, sustained engineering focus. As part of this focus, over the course of the next 12 months or so, Sitecore is committing to one release a month for one of these 3 primary versions. By selecting a handful of key versions to focus their support efforts around, a higher level of support will be able to be provided. New features and fixes will be continually made available and this will only strengthen the platform. So if you’re not already on one of these versions, we’d love to help you plan and implement an upgrade.
Some of the most exciting parts of the Sitecore 8.1 and 8.2 roadmaps that we can share revolve around Azure support (specifically Azure Platform as a Service, or PaaS). Whereas there was a delay of nearly 6 months before 8.0 was released for Azure, 8.1 for Azure is set to follow the 8.1 XP release by only weeks. And the even more exciting news is that with the release of 8.2 sometime in 2016, the Sitecore for Azure module will no longer be required. Support for Azure PaaS will be built directly into the core XP.
Also starting with Sitecore 8.1, Sitecore will begin offering a cloud version of the product called Sitecore XP Cloud powered by Microsoft Azure. For customers that are looking to implement fairly straight forward server configurations, Sitecore XP Cloud could be a great option. While specific licensing and pricing details are still forthcoming, we know there will be some limitations to the XP Cloud offerings. For example, customers will only be able to choose from a limited number of predefined topologies (for example, 2 content delivery web roles and 1 content management) that will not support dynamic scaling. While these limitations would preclude this from being a suitable option for some larger or more complex environments, for many customers that are just looking to get up on the platform and not have to worry about the underlying infrastructure components, these offerings could help speed adoption and lower the overall cost of ownership of the platform.
As you can see, Sitecore has a lot of exciting things coming up in the next releases. It’s been very helpful to be able to work with Sitecore evaluating some of these considerations, providing feedback, and seeing the product better meet our customers’ needs as a result. As an implementation partner, this type of early access is critical to allow us to start training our teams and getting answers to a lot of the questions our customers are going to have when the version is finally made available to the public. We look forward to helping put this experience to work for you!