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Sitecore Content-as-a-Service Actually Makes a Lot of Sense

Cloud Computing

Sitecore revealed a few more details about their upcoming content-as-a-service (CaaS) offering at the virtual Sitecore Symposium 2020. Based on my (very anecdotal) reading of Twitter and Slack, responses from the Sitecore community seemed to be mixed. Marketers and developers alike seemed to be cautiously optimistic about Sitecore’s new direction.

So what is Sitecore content-as-a-service? In short, it’s a suite of tools and processes for delivering content via CDNs. Along with client-side libraries, CaaS enables Jamstack development in the Sitecore world.

And that’s where the confusion starts. Why offer CaaS at all? How does it integrate with Sitecore XP? Is CaaS a future replacement for Sitecore XP? What kind of developers can take advantage of CaaS?

After attending multiple content-as-a-service sessions at Symposium, taking part inside conversations, and studying the recent history of Sitecore product announcements, I think the CaaS offering is less confusing than the messaging makes it out to be. Let’s try to clear up a few questions.

DISCLAIMER: While almost everything in this article is based on Symposium sessions and information shared by Sitecore, the CaaS is still an unreleased product. Some specifics may change in time.

Why offer Sitecore content-as-a-service?

Sitecore’s traditional market is medium-to-large enterprise organizations. The full-fat Sitecore XP platform is great for companies with the resources necessary to build a robust platform. Still, those with more limited resources may be turned off by the costs and implementation effort.

Content-as-a-service allows for Sitecore to offer Jamstack-style development to their current and future customer base, which can drastically cut down the implementation effort of certain kinds of websites. The flexible nature of Jamstack also means that a larger variety of developers can potentially participate in Sitecore development activities (especially those eager frontend devs!).

CaaS will likely find a home with small-to-medium-sized projects that value deployment flexibility, easy global scaling, and highly agile development options.

How does content-as-a-service integrate with Sitecore XP?

Sitecore CaaS appears to be largely based on Content Hub (Sitecore’s latest DAM offering). Still, it is really a combination of two things: a delivery network managed by Sitecore and APIs for accessing content on that CDN (which is a very Jamstack thing to do). Yes, CaaS is really just software-as-a-service; the future is firmly based in the cloud.

CaaS offers a seamless way for Sitecore XP and Content Hub to push content to a hosted CDN, allowing websites and applications to pull that content down in a standard, structured way. This ensures that solutions built on XP can take advantage of CaaS-specific benefits and features.

Is content-as-a-service a future replacement for Sitecore Experience Platform (XP)?

At an implementation level, Sitecore CaaS is not part of the traditional Sitecore XP that developers know and love. It’s a new product based on a new architecture developed, maintained, and hosted by Sitecore.

The initial feature set of CaaS is straightforward and missing many core features of the full Experience Platform. For example – as was stated at Symposium during a Q&A session – CaaS doesn’t yet have content personalization of any kind (but it is a roadmap item).

What kind of developers can take advantage of CaaS?

Frontend developers will initially be the primary audience for creating CaaS-driven websites. React was used in a demo during Symposium 2020, but CaaS is built on some fairly fundamental concepts: RESTful APIs, GraphQL, and JSON-based documents.

Because CaaS is API driven, any developer can interact with it to access content. Tooling and libraries should become readily available in the months after CaaS goes mainstream, so I fully expect back-end developers to take advantage of the CaaS platform just as easily as front-end developers.

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Brandon Bruno

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