Last year Sitecore (the company) acquired several API-first, cloud-based products. With these acquisitions Sitecore has been reacting to the trend of Headless CMS (Content Management System) and Content as a Service (CasS). In this blog post, I will lead you through the new and old Sitecore products and then try to speculate the Sitecore product roadmap and how it affects the customer and partner base of Sitecore. 

What is Headless CMS, API-first, and Content as a Service? 

1. Headless CMS:

  • Stores and delivers HTML less, clean content (usually in JSON format)
  • Frontend (head) is independent of the backend storage (body)

2. API-first:

  • Content is provided through APIs of the CMS
  • Usually, REST API or GraphQL endpoint
  • Programming language independent
  • Usually, an API key should be sent from the client to get access to the API endpoints

3. Content as a Service:

  • Essentially a Headless CMS is in the cloud, which means the provider does all application and infrastructure maintenance
  • Provides a cloud-based authoring interface and API 

New API-first products in the Sitecore product family

Sitecore received a $1.2B investment plan at the beginning of this year, which meant accelerating the growth of Sitecore and expanding the product family. This was realized in acquiring the following companies:

  • Sitecore Content Hub, formerly Styleslabs: Content as a Service platform (acquired before the investment) 
  • Sitecore OrderCloud, formerly Four51 – Headless, API-first e-commerce platform
  • Boxever – Headless, API-first personalization platform
  • Moosend – Headless, API-first e-mail marketing platform
  • Reflektion – AI powered digital search platform

All solutions above are a piece of the current Sitecore Experience Platform product but in the cloud-based world. Let us try to match these products to the existing Sitecore XP platform:

  • Sitecore Content Hub – Sitecore Experience Manager
  • Sitecore OrderCloud – Sitecore Commerce
  • Boxever – Sitecore xConnect
  • Moosend – Sitecore E-mail Experience Manager
  • Reflektion – Sitecore Content Search

As seen, Sitecore is going on the path to search and acquire well-known and working products instead of developing their own. This perfectly makes sense because these existing products already have a client and partner base or even a community. Not to mention the knowledge these companies already have about the market and how to manage their product type. 

Why? 

Moving to the cloud and entirely using software (or Content) as a service has become a trend in the last few years. By the acquisitions, Sitecore becomes capable of offering different SaaS services together as a "suite" or each of them separately – they follow the same offering approach as with the Sitecore XP/XM products. 

Despite moving to the cloud is a trend, it also has many benefits:

  • Customers and partners do not need to set up the infrastructure to host the CMS itself. It means that the network, server, and security configuration and maintenance efforts would be much lower.
  • Developers do not need to install the CMS on their developer workstation to start implementing features. In most cases, they just need an API key to connect to the CMS in the cloud.
  • CMS upgrades do not belong to the developer team anymore; Sitecore takes care of the upgrades, bug fixes, and hotfixes.
  • The developer team is not limited to a programming language as the services are API-first; therefore, any programming language can be used to send and receive HTTP requests. Although API-first CMS providers have many SDKs implemented for different popular programming languages, Sitecore provides SDKs for .NET Core, Angular, React, Vue.js and Next.js.

The only disadvantage of having the CMS in could is that it's a closed system. There is no chance to "hack" Sitecore if needed as it's possible in Sitecore XP. In an on-premise environment, Sitecore XP is a website that IIS hosts, so you have the chance to over write or extend it at any point.

Speculation – the future of Sitecore

Using the API-first approach, Sitecore makes easier to plug in different products in the platform by various digital service providers. Theoretically any company can integrate their product into Sitecore by injecting the custom implementations into the correct hooks, what Sitecore provides or will provide.

Sitecore XP will still be there; it won't disappear soon because this was the core product of Sitecore since the beginning – although it had different names in the past years – and most of the existing partners and customers are used to the traditional on-premise product.

Moving a current Sitecore XP implementation to a fully Content as a Service solution needs a complete reimplementation. Therefore, customers can discover other CaaS products, which makes it harder to win the competition for Sitecore. However, Sitecore has a good start in the CaaS world by the acquisitions because they have a lot of domain knowledge and can offer the products together.

I expect some other acquisitions in the future, which could be in the following domains:

  • Form creator, to offer a similar product like Sitecore Forms
  • Analytics 

Conclusion 

Building and integrating the newly acquired products in the Sitecore brand is still in progress. The most mature cloud-based product is Sitecore Content Hub yet, but I am sure the other new products will come soon too.

If you would like to discuss which product would be a perfect fit for you, contact us!

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