Approximately a year ago, I made an ill-timed blog post when, in browsing Adobe documentation, I discovered that AEM as a Cloud Service had been released. Only slight problem was that I’d preempted the official Adobe release, and had to retract my blog post for a week or two until the official unveil. (oops) I didn’t make a lot of friends in Adobe PR that day.
But fast forward through the last year and the big question has always remained is not “is AEM as a Cloud Service an amazing technical achievement?” because it is. But instead the question is whether or not it will support the workload that you’re looking to put on it with the requirements of your organization. So now, a year later, I wanted to quickly take stock of what’s changed in AEM as a Cloud Service, and which feature-gap showstoppers have been addressed by Adobe and which may no longer be showstoppers for your projects.
AEM as a Cloud Service – New Features in 2020/2021
With major releases coming out once every month (see release notes here), there have been countless new minor & major features added and bugfixes addressed over the last year. I wanted to focus in on a handful of the big ones though, as they have addresses a number of the major gaps that (as noted here) existed in the initial rollout of the AEM Cloud Service offering.
AEM Screens as a Cloud Service
Just announced at the Adobe Developers Live event this past week, Adobe is rolling out now with a beta of a new AEM Forms Cloud Service. AEM Screens is an extension of AEM’s capabilities as an all-powerful hub for all of your multichannel experiences you’re looking to drive. AEM Screens allows one to take digital assets and experiences that you house in AEM, and radiate them out to digital displays like the ones you see in metro stations, hotels, restaurants and city squares.
Up until now, Screens was supported only in self-hosted AEM or in AEM hosted by Adobe Managed Services. However, the Screens product has now been fully re-engineered as a true cloud service that doesn’t actually reside (mostly) in an AEM container at all. I’ll be doing a separate blog post on this product once I’ve gotten my hands on it (I only first heard of it a few days ago) but it opens exciting new doors for scalability of a solution one could use to power anything from a single hotel’s displays, to the digital displays at tens of thousands of retail stores.
AEM Forms as a Cloud Service
AEM Forms is a ye olde product that was earlier the “Adobe LiveCycle server” product which then later was a server-within-a-server product that shoehorned massive amounts of adaptive forms, PDF generation and document-of-record functions, as well as a whole host of supporting open source OS packages onto a very capable, very complicated product that was NOT “cloud-ready” by any stretch of the imagination. Whether running as an OSGI service inside of AEM or inside of JBoss, AEM Forms has always created its own unique brand of fun for DevOps folks.
It’s been entirely re-thought as a Cloud Service, and cloud-native functionality is being rolled-out piece-by-piece as it’s ready for primetime. Right now the main features are AEM Adaptive Forms, Adobe Sign integration and Forms Data model, with other key features (PDF Generation, Output Service, etc) coming at a later time.
AEM Commerce as a Cloud Service
AEM Commerce wasn’t a part of the initial AEM as a Cloud Service rollout, but it followed a few months after. Commerce has very quickly moved from being a “nifty beta integration” into a first-class citizen in AEM world, making integrating in compelling commerce capabilities into your AEM site a reality. The AEM CIF (Commerce Integration Framework) supports connecting to both cloud-hosted as well as self-hosted Magento infrastructure, making AEM Cloud Service a versatile option for “owning the glass” on a content-heavy site with commerce capabilities.