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I recently attended SUGCON 2022 in Budapest, which was fantastic. While I was there, I learned a lot about what Sitecore has planned for its Composable DXP technologies and beyond. So, I wanted to share my impressions on where I think Sitecore is going with its headless content management system (CMS) options.

Today, Sitecore already supports headless CMS using Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) / Experience Manager (XM) + JSS + Experience Edge. And they’re partnering with Vercel to move the content delivery to a React/Next.JS model. We’ve known this since Symposium 2021 and we’re very excited about it. At Velir we leverage this new stack and paradigm for our clients when it’s a good fit.

And there is also another headless option available today with Sitecore Content Hub. Sitecore has provided an API to connect Content Hub with Experience Edge as another way to create a headless CMS. In this post, I’ll explain where Sitecore is headed with both options.

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The big story, in my opinion, will be Sitecore’s new SAAS offering, XM Cloud, which may be as amazing as it sounds. Promising true headless functionality, it includes Site, Layout, and Page Management. It also promises to be JamStack ready to support Next, Nuxt, Gatsby, Svelte, Vercel, Azure, Cloudflare, Akamai, and more. And it sounds like the new slogan is, “Point, click, personalize,” which is the goal for analytics, testing, and personalization. Here are my additional notes about these exciting changes:

  • Sitecore is dropping the XP side, which opens the door for the Composable DXP market to fill in those features with best-in-class frameworks like Sitecore Personalize, Sitecore CDP, and Sitecore Send.
  • Horizon, which is now rebranded as Symphony, will become the new authoring environment. This is also being called FaaS, Front-End-As-A-Service. It will have options to connect to third-party data sources such as Contentful and WordPress.
  • XM Cloud will support webhooks, which will help create feature parity with other headless CMS platforms.
  • The media library will be backed by Azure Blob Storage Media which can both reduce storage cost and increase performance
  • There will be new Headless Services, Management Services, and JSS Services, which will be retooled to be GraphQL based.
  • There will be a new identity provider replacing the .NET identity provider we’ve known for years. They’re calling this “Sitecore Unified Identity”.
  • SXA will be retooled for the Cloud/Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) architecture eliminating some features that are less relevant to SaaS and making it more cloud native
  • A new connector/API will be created for Experience Edge.
  • Sitecore will remove several features in XM/XP which are no longer relevant in a Cloud/SaaS based environment. These include:
    • Device Detection, Device Simulator, Geo Location, Update Center, and Identity Server.
    • Note: Identity Server is also being replaced by Sitecore Unified Identity.
  • Some features will be reworked such as Sitecore Forms to make them more cloud-native.
  • And Sitecore is looking at removing the CD (Content Delivery) environment along with the “web” database, since in a headless framework XP Cloud would no longer be the tool responsible for serving pages to the clients.

Based on everything I heard at SUGCON this sounds like a fantastic future platform. I’m looking forward to it!

The other headless solution Sitecore will release is a bit fuzzier. We know that Content Hub currently has a headless solution, as I mentioned earlier. Based on feedback, Sitecore wants to provide this in a lighter-weight flavor, which will be called, ambiguously enough, Headless CMS.

This Headless CMS option will slim down Content Hub’s features so that only the features relevant to a headless CMS remain. This makes sense since some features in Content Hub may be less relevant for headless. Some additional notes:

  • It is being called a “Pureplay” Headless CMS which I’m taking to mean they want this flavor to ride exclusively in the headless CMS lane.
  • It sounds like there will be a mechanic to share content between Headless CMS and XM Cloud.
  • And there will be a new API layer between Content Hub-slim and Experience Edge.

Beyond this we don’t know much. For example, who will be the target audiences for this headless option and how does it compare, compete, or complement Sitecore’s XP Cloud option?

These are my thoughts on Sitecore’s headless CMS features, friends. I’m truly excited about the promise for XM Cloud, the emphasis on Headless, and its integration with the Composable DXP ecosystem at Sitecore. When it comes to Headless CMS, we have questions, but it sounds like an improvement over the current Content Hub headless option. We’ll probably hear more updates this spring and we’re hoping to see some releases over the summer!

Looking to implement a headless CMS and considering Sitecore as the digital experience platform to do it? Contact us. We’re happy to talk about Sitecore’s features and how your organization can leverage them in a headless CMS.


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