On March 23rd, the Sitecore community kicked off SUGCON Europe in Malaga, Spain! I can’t be there this year, so I’m living vicariously through all the community folks who are being so kind as to post things online for those of us at home!
I started off trying to capture these on my Mastodon account, but there seem to be technical issues (or I’ve been blocked for spamming) and my media posts are not showing up anymore. So I’ll be updating this post through the event. Keep tuned for posts from social as well as some commentary from myself on what’s being shown and talked about.
Friends coming together
It was great to see lots of pics of folks arriving at the event and gathering together! Every community event is great for learning, a good opportunity for folks to show off what they know, but also a great time for creating connections between people you usually only see online. I do miss it… one day, I’ll be back at events!
Meet the Sitecore product team!
Many Sitecore product team members have travelled to the event to spend the days showing off new product features, talking to the community, gathering feedback, and talking about what is coming in the future. If you are at these events, make sure to talk to the folks who are building these products. They truly want to know what is going well but also what isn’t. This is a great chance to influence the direction of Sitecore product development!
Look for the red shirts at the event, or drop by the Sitecore corner where you can hang out, ask questions, and learn more about who, what, why, where, and when on the new composable stack.
Sitecore Chief Product Officer Dave O’Flanagan kicked off the day at SUGCON with a keynote showing the latest progress from the product team. Sitecore CEO Steve Tzikakis joined remotely to talk about Sitecore’s vision and place in the market.
During the keynote, Dave and Steve highlighted that Sitecore plans on leading through innovation, and highlighted that there were already 50 clients operating on XM Cloud and that the new Sitecore Search content search product was possibly the fastest growing product that Sitecore has launched yet. The importance of the community was highlighted in how it drives the products forward:
It’s also important to note that while Sitecore is focusing heavily on innovating in the Composable DXP space, work is being done to make sure to advance the platform DXP offering as well. Sitecore XP 10.4 is in the works! If you’ve been catching my migration series of video shorts, you may have noticed my section on choosing platform vs. composable. While the new hype is all on the composable stack and moving to SaaS, there are still many customers and scenarios where something with a more managed infrastructure solution makes a lot of sense. The Sitecore product team wants to provide choice, with solutions that fit the needs of a customer, while staying aligned with the future of where the market is going.
It can get complicated, though, when there are so many choices. In some ways, only having the monolithic DXP option made things easy for those planning out what needed to be licensed. There’s a lot more work that needs to happen now up front to decide what you want to do, but it does mean you are only paying for what you plan on implementing in your projects now. No more buying something and having it sit on the shelf for Phase 2 or Phase 3. When a team is ready for the next step, they can add on that functionality at that point!
(I think I’m going on a tangent that probably should have been a blog post itself… Okay, hold that thought!)
There was also a lot of coverage on what was going to be coming in the future. Roadmap slides are always the fan favourites!
On Content Hub 4.3, it should be noted that this will be the last ‘versioned’ Content Hub release. The team is moving to automatic upgrades, similar to what is being done in the other SaaS products!
A lot of work is also happening to make it easier for the community of customers and partners to make the move to XM Cloud. My team has been working on collecting together what we have already to create a one-stop landing place for you to learn about migration to composable. The team is also trying to build out more content and guides, along with the partner technical enablement team and the product team. We know there are a lot of “it depends” moments, and we’re trying our best to help with what those things depend on!
The platinum sponsor for SUGCON Europe this year is our partner Vercel, the company behind Next.js and a key part of Sitecore’s XM Cloud story. Javi Velasco, tech lead at Vercel, delivered a keynote on how Vercel is moving forward with innovating delivery on the web.
My team has been doing a lot of work, especially Thomas Desmond, on investigating the latest version of Next.js and also seeing how we can take advantage of more of the features in the Vercel hosting infrastructure. Honestly, Vercel has just made it so easy to run web projects. We point GitHub at it, comment directly in Vercel, full integration between our PRs and the feedback we get in our preview environments. I don’t know if I could go back to self-hosting delivery servers again! I sound like a bit of a fanboy, but I have honestly been really impressed at how easy this is.
The companies like Vercel, Netflix, Microsoft, and others that are solving this type of problem for development teams are in the right place at the right time. I’m eager to look at how Next.js and Azure work together too, though, because I’ve heard a lot of partners or customers that simply want to stay inside their Azure subscription. Does anybody have a good blog article on what you lose when hosting Next.js on Azure web apps?
Day One Breakouts
After the opening keynotes, the breakouts started! This is a chance for everybody to learn from the community about what they’re working on and see cool implementations.
A few comments on Sitecore XM Cloud licensing
It’s important to note that the licensing for XM Cloud is done a little differently from how Sitecore XM/XP have typically been licensed in the past. This is much closer to a ‘usage’ model. If you have a lot of visitors, you go up tiers. If you have a lot of authors/business users, you go up tiers. If you need a lot of projects and environments, you go up tiers. So it’s critical that you understand what your actual needs are and license close to that. If you decide you need to grow later, you can always move to a higher tier.
My team is on a very low tier of XM Cloud and we hit up against the project limitations a lot. If you are only running a site or two, you might not notice, but once you start managing a lot of distinct XM Cloud instances we needed to start getting really vigilant on retiring unused projects.
My thoughts on features “missing” from XM Cloud
Martin Miles has a good slide there about what you DON’T get with XM Cloud. As Adam points out in his tweet, these have been moved either to XM Cloud as something else, or into another part of the composable suite (in most cases). When comparing XM/XP to XM Cloud, it’s important to remember the different between a platform/monolithic DXP and a composable DXP where things are more isolated. So, for example, the concept of ‘xConnect’ and ‘xDB’ in XP maps pretty well to the API layer and storage of Sitecore CDP.
Another example in there is EXM, which in the composable world has a matching composable piece in Sitecore Send. I recently did a blog about migrating a Marketing Automation/EXM scenario to composable, and it’s important to note that EXM is NOT the same as Send. Similar use cases, different way of doing things.
Some of them don’t have a thing in the composable DXP because it just doesn’t make sense anymore. For example, Identity Server isn’t needed because auth is handled by the Cloud Portal, so you don’t need to run an Identity Server to log in to the CM anymore. Similarly, publishing service is no longer a necessary module because it’s now Sitecore’s responsibility to make sure XM Cloud publishes at scale for customers. That part is now hidden inside.
One of the ones mentioned here is Forms, and that really is a missing gap that should be called out. The current forms available in Sitecore Send don’t cover all the use cases that people were used to with WFFM and Sitecore Forms. There is a new headless forms solution on the near-term roadmap, though, which will help with that gap.
Day One Evening Program
Once the sessions are done for the day, the fun times begin! Check out some of these from the evening entertainment
Day 2 Community Faces
After what was probably a late night, if tradition holds, I’m always amazed at how many folks are up early and ready for a big second day at the event! Here are a few shots of people from Day 2 that I thought were nice!
Day 2 Keynote – Content Hub ONE!
My team has been getting into Content Hub ONE recently, especially Sebastian Winter and Mark van Aalst, as we work on introducing some new features to the Developer Portal. A few years ago, Sitecore tried something like this by putting Experience Edge in front of Content Hub and it kind of worked? This new product is definitely better built for the purpose of a lightweight headless CMS. Nice to see the roadmap being shown off!
Day 2 Breakouts
I’ll probably have to break these up later, but here are some highlights from the Day 2 breakouts at SUGCON!
Day 2 Closing Keynote with Scott Hanselman
Really cool that the SUGCON crew got Scott Hanselman to speak, even though he did have to join virtually. I’ve followed Scott a long time and he has been doing some really neat things lately that he’s sharing on TikTok. This speech on inclusion and being kind seems really great and I wish I could have seen it!