Sitecore Brings out XP 8.2 & Gets Enterprisy with Coveo
Sitecore kicked off its annual user conference with two big product announcements: version 8.2 of its Experience Platform and a new Sitecore Enterprise Cloud Edition from search partner Coveo. Here are the details:
Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) 8.2
Sitecore’s release of XP 8.0 was a pretty big one. They were on the road to revamping their experience platform to ensure that the business user was empowered. Where version 7 had been about technical upgrades, version 8 was about usability and business user experience.
So where does XP 8.2 take you? It’s actually a combination of both. There are a few enhancements to XP with this release, but here are three important ones:
Experience Accelerator (XA) - Integrated into the editing capabilities of XP, XA (don’t you love all these acronyms!!) provides a drag and drop wireframing environment that enables non-techies to create pages quickly. It offers 80 plus pre-built components so I expect most companies will find plenty to work with out of the box. Designers can package these wireframes into a Theme that can be easily applied across a project.
Express Migrations - Did you know that Sitecore 6 was introduced in 2008? And that there are still customers working on this version of the platform? Well, the Express Migrator won’t work for them, at least not yet, but for those companies looking for a quick way to migrate from v7.2 to 8.2, this is the answer. Sitecore says the tool will support additional versions going forward.
Data Exchange Framework - This is a brand spanking new framework that will simplify the integration of data from third party content providers and help organizations integrate Sitecore into their martech stacks. There are many that believe that the CMS is the foundation of the martech stack, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, it’s simply another component of the stack that needs to be integrated for its data and analytics just like everything else.
There are other new things in XP 8.2 such as a new Advanced Publishing capability that helps companies which have geographically dispersed cloud deployments. New commerce capabilities include new reports and simplified deployment, and support for MongoDB 3.2 (used by xDB) means there is data at rest encryption.
Expanding on the Microsoft Alliance
CMS-Connected reported on Sitecore’s big Microsoft Alliance and today Sitecore announced some important technical news related to that partnership. Sitecore 8.2 now natively supports SQL Azure DB.
And while that is all that’s ready this release, Sitecore also said that coming soon would be “native provisioning via Azure Resource Manager, hosting on the Azure App Service, and a fully PaaS-optimized experience leveraging Azure Search and Azure Application Insights.”
For those Microsoft customers who want a strong customer experience platform in a cloud environment, all these things are good to look forward to.
Coveo for Sitecore Enterprise Edition
With this new version of Coveo announced today, Sitecore customers can push all their content into the Coveo cloud where it can be used to create better search experiences, provide predictive recommendations and leverage xDB personalization.
Out of the box, Sitecore uses Lucene SolR, but it’s straightforward to switch your search provider with Sitecore’s Search Provider API. And with this tight Coveo relationship, you can be sure this switch isn’t complex. According to Coveo’s website, there are over 300 joint customers between the two, along with many Systems Integrators with expertise in both platforms.
Coveo also integrates with Sitecore Commerce to provide relevant offers and product recommendations, to leverage profile information and visit behavior and profiles based on like visitors. Integration between Sitecore, Coveo, and Sitecore Commerce can also improve the relevancy of the content offered on an e-commerce website.
Packaging It All Up
You’ll never see Sitecore bring out an update that doesn’t have a number of good things in it for its customers. So there is definitely plenty in this release to excite IT (easy migration yeah! Simplified cloud deployments yeah!) and the business users (I can create my own pages? Cool!).
This is the path forward for CMS and customer experience platforms today. You have to offer a mix of capabilities to keep both the business and IT happy because both are required to manage the customer experience successfully.
Sitecore has been increasingly adding capabilities to empower the business user because they understand the need to make changes rapidly to stay competitive. Everything they do is also designed to ease the workload of IT, allowing them to focus on the administration and backend support of the technology and infrastructure - and whether you are running on premises or in the cloud, there’s plenty of work there to keep IT busy.