What do you do if you can’t find an architect for Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), but still want to use it? Rackspace is offering companies of all sizes a possible solution with today's announcement of Rackspace Managed Cloud For AEM (RSAEM).
Rackspace has provided solutions around AEM previously, but this is a new departure, Kyle Metcalf, general manager of Rackspace Digital practice told us.
Building on History
“Historically, we have worked with a company around Adobe Experience Manager and built out a full customer environment based on their needs with application support around the clock,” he said.
“This is functional and it works well but it takes time to build, while customization is not ideal for a customer that is not familiar with the application in question or how to develop it.”
The Managed Cloud changes this by providing a number of plans — effectively deployment templates — for organizations of different types and sizes.
“What we did was we took all these learnings [from our historical deployments] and said, ‘What if we get even more prescriptive' and then provide environments that will be fit for different enterprises based on a number of questions and how the enterprises answer to them. On that basis they will be fitted into one of the five categories, and they are ready to go," he said.
The clear benefit comes in a promised reduction in deployment time: from weeks, or even months, to a few days. The goal is to speed access to AEM for marketers — the clear target for this release.
A Growing Digital Presence
What makes the Rackspace offering different? Rackspace is a managed cloud vendor, which means that it offers more than the raw computing infrastructure that many cloud providers offer.
What Rackspace claims is the difference — and what makes it a managed cloud provider — is that it offers the infrastructure, and also the architecture expertise, tools and applications to help enterprises manage their cloud deployments. Rackspace labels this "Fanatical Support."
The idea being that once an enterprise signs up, Rackspace provides all the elements needed to develop and manage their cloud environments. The company also offers this service in hybrid cloud solutions.
The new AEM solution comes under the umbrella of Rackspace Digital, a business it launched last year with a specific focus on digital marketing, infrastructure and application hosting.
It specializes in support for web content management systems, e-commerce solutions and mobile services, but also provides a consultancy that advises clients about all aspects of digital business.
“The push [for RSAEM] is coming from the move to digital business again. It’s coming from brands that are looking to develop a stronger digital presence,” Metcalf said.
A Big Investment
RSAEM is built with an application-first focus and then back-engineered to develop the support for those apps. It's geared towards a non-technical audience: for marketing departments interested in AEM, that can’t afford it.
If this sounds like a fit for mid-sized companies, it’s one of the markets that Rackspace is pursuing, but not the only one. The release is also a response to the increasing influence CMOs wield over technology buying decisions.
Metcalf described what he says is a typical situation:
“It’s the marketing department that is purchasing the software. The CMO says ‘Hey this is great, I need it,' then they realize that they need to host it somewhere. They walk over to the CIO’s office and the CIO says, ‘what is it, we don’t know it, we don’t have any experience with it.' And that is where we see an opportunity for Rackspace,” he said.
Metcalf pointed out that any kind of investment in AEM is a considerable investment not just in terms of money, but also in resources and skillsets. And these problems effect all companies — even enterprises.
With this — and the other applications in the Rackspace Digital practice — the intended audience doesn’t need (or want) to know about infrastructure. “It’s for the guys who don’t need to know and don’t care,” he said. “All they want is to be able to use it.”
The result he claims, is a product that enables automatic AEM deployments, that scales depending on need, that enables the duplication of environments with a single mouse click, and tests deployments before promoting them into production. All of this, wrapped-up in a shiny new interface which offers one view for marketers and another for developers.
Rackspace plans to release similar offerings for the other four applications in its digital practice — Magento, Oracle Commerce, hybris and Sitecore. It will also focus on managing how these applications interact with each other and offer customers the benefits of those insights and technology.
“There are countless applications that marketers are using and most of them interact with each other. We call it digital polygamy. Because there are so many applications that are intertwined. We want to be able to offer customers a way to manage them,” Metcalf said.
Rackspace plans to release RSAEM in mid-October.