Clouds in the sky. Matt Garrepy of Solodev predicted in a CMSWire-Solodev webinar 2018 will the biggest year for cloud computing technologies.
Matt Garrepy of Solodev predicted in a CMSWire-Solodev webinar 2018 will the biggest year for cloud computing technologies. PHOTO: Robert Meeks

The cloud is providing significant advantages for business and 2018 will be the year most organizations recognize this. Matt Garrepy, chief digital officer at web content management provider Solodev, shared those thoughts in a recent CMSWire webinar, “Planning Your 2018 Digital Strategy: The Top 5 Opportunities for CIOs.” 

The cloud will allow organizations to not only migrate your website but also leverage the web technologies and the applications that can power your overall digital strategy. “Everything from your marketing stack to CRM and beyond and whether you're an enterprise or a government agency, the cloud is already promising significant advantages,” Garrepy said. “Everything from enhanced security and redundancy to unlimited scalability to greater management of compliance and governance.”

Challenging 2017 for Infrastructure

This year has brought significant challenges for business and government and for IT Leaders. Nearly half the country, about 143 million people, had their personal data compromised as a result of the Equifax breach, and they weren’t alone in terms of customer data breaches this year. The US also saw unprecedented natural disaster with hurricanes causing significant business and IT major interruptions. “All of this is testing our infrastructures and creating a greater urgency around the need to prepare,” Garrepy said. 

CIOs and IT leaders are faced with several questions heading into 2018 regarding how they run their businesses, but, Garrepy said, “there's hope in the cloud and the greatest opportunities exist in this new reality. And that's why we think that 2018 is truly going to be the year of the cloud.”

Leveraging Cloud 2.0 Technologies for the Web

Jeff Duffy, senior solutions architect for Amazon Web Services (AWS) discussed advantages of cloud computing through AWS (Solodev partners with AWS in cloud hosting).  Duffy cited agility, trading capex for opex, taking guesswork out of capacity, having the ability to focus on your business and deploying in minutes as major advantages to partnering with a cloud computing technology like AWS.

“You can escape the three- or five-year hardware refresh cycle, only worrying about paying for what you're actually going to use in order to conduct your business,” Duffy said. "You can increase or decrease the capacity as you need without needing to predict the future of what your loads will look like.”  Amazon’s Availability Zones provide failure domains composed of multiple data centers that are aligned along boundaries like floodplains, fault lines, areas that network and power availability. These are interconnected with high-speed, low-latency networks. “This allows you to architect your applications for high availability among multiple Availability Zones or multiple regions,” Duffy added.

Web Experience vs. Web Content Management

Image of a screenshot from the CMSWire-Solodev webinar, "Planning Your 2018 Digital Strategy: The Top 5 Opportunities for CIOs."
Click on this image in order to access an on-demand recording of the CMSWire-Solodev webinar, “Planning Your 2018 Digital Strategy: The Top 5 Opportunities for CIOs.”

Where cloud hosting meets content management and digital customer experiences, Solodev believes in offering a cloud-first web experience platform vs. purely content management. Unlike a traditional CMS, which is still very much focused on website management, a web experience platform concept engages customers and content experiences that are much more interactive much more bi-directional, Garrepy said. “Web experience at its core is about leveraging all of these digital technologies to really transform the customer's experience as they interact and touch your digital brand,” Garrepy said. “With the cloud-first web experience platform, you're not just managing servers and infrastructure anymore. You’re finally free to focus on managing the content, and you have a better separation of the CMS and custom code.”

The new breed of cloud-first web experience platforms deliver new levels of control without having to compromise the kinds of flexible extensible architectures that are aligning with the efficiencies of the cloud.

Tips for Choosing a Cloud-First Web Experience Platform

As for getting the right web experience platform in your technology ecosystem, Garrepy offered a few tips:

Choose a solution that’s purpose-built and fully aligned with the best capabilities of the cloud infrastructure. The platform needs to be designed for the environment and everything that it offers.

Ensure security. Infrastructures like Amazon’s offer stronger perimeters and surveillance, controlled access and positioning. AWS has deep cyber security expertise and auditing. “So in many ways it's like we're layering security on top of security and given things that have hapened in this past year, that's becoming even more important,” Garrepy said. 

Capabilities for advanced customization. There shouldn't be any limits on creating the unique kinds of design and functional experiences that you want in your web presentation. “The traditional CMS is often like a like a dream killer,” Garrepy said. “It shouldn't stand in the way of your most creative ideas and a lot of these cookie cutter options tend to force you to fit your brand into the kinds of templates that can compromise your ability to customize around your user and the user experience."

Include a RESTful API. This is an absolute must for the future of your interoperability. Having a web experience platform that wraps everything in this RESTful API provides that path for integrating with all your third-party applications, all the way up through marketing automation. 

Deploy headless strategies. Headless content management systems do not have the front end website or presentation layer. Headless CMS lives in the cloud and uses that RESTful API to drive data to different panes of glass. “This change was really driven by the mobile revolution and a growing need for any device in any format as an approach from managing and delivering content,” Garrepy said.  With headless, he added, there’s no interference from the CMS code and consequently no issues when upgrading the CMS. It's also perfect for websites that are using JavaScript frameworks and mobile apps that are pulling content to iOS or Android. Headless has also designed for ecosystems of apps and websites that use the same content and lots of different places. 

Minimize your use of open-source. Platforms like WordPress certainly have their place in the universe, but they lack the kinds of security and scalability to be a true accountable enterprise solution, according to Garrepy. “They might bring inherent challenges around ADA compliance and accessibility if they're not supported the right way,” Garrepy said. “And as an example, if you're using WordPress plugins, the code in those plugins may not always be inspectable. Overall I think it's OK to sprinkle some open source into your recipe. Enterprise open source platforms like Bootstrap which is managed by Twitter far more accountable, but don't build your entire website strategy on an open source platform.”