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AEM to Cloud – technical implications for migration

With Adobe Experience Manager not initially architected for the cloud, how has Adobe made this possible?

Adobe has moved to the cloud with its Enterprise CMS, Adobe Experience Manager. With Content Management Systems in the cloud looking to become the standard in years to come, are you ready to make the switch and why is now the time to do it?

In this series of three blogs, we will look at some of the benefits and challenges of making this change, and why it may be a “no brainer” decision for some of you. You can read the first blog here.

Technical implications for migration

In the first blog of this short series, we looked at the advantages of moving to the cloud, why clients were considering this a “no brainer” and what to do if you were considering the move. In this blog we will explore the technical implications, and common questions we hear from our clients as well as the strategic direction from Adobe.

Adobe Experience Manager was not initially architected for the cloud, how has Adobe made this possible?

Adobe has definitely done its homework. Through a new architecture based on proven solutions such as Kubernetes, a solid platform has been developed that is "cloud native by heart", offered at competitive rates. They also provide a Cloud Manager tool which serves as a central point of contact and simplifies the complexity of the cloud architecture for the user.

There are now three options for AEM deployments:

  • On-Premise – hosted by the license holder or a partner in own cloud or data centre.
  • Adobe Managed Service – hosted by Adobe with options for level of management of the platform including Cloud Manager capabilities which helps to improve deployment times and spikes in website traffic.
  • As a Cloud Service – Software as Service, fully managed by Adobe, always up to date and secure.

So how is Adobe developing the product further, what is the strategy?

All three variants are based on the same code base but Adobe's focus is on AEM as a Cloud Service. This is "version-less" and is automatically updated, mostly maintenance and security related, on a daily basis. New functions are then released on a pre-defined schedule. As a result, the changes are first available for AEM as a Cloud Service and then published for the other variants via feature packs.

However, currently the feature set is not the same for all versions but Sites and Assets, the most used features, are already available in the cloud service. This means that AEM as a Cloud Service is ready to go for most customers.

What are the technical limitations that need to be considered before committing to the move?

There are many technical considerations when planning a move of this scale. We have listed some of these below, however this list is not exhaustive and identifying and weighing up the changes is part of the preparation phase.

  • There are content areas in the repository (/apps and /libs) that are unchangeable at runtime. If an attempt is made to write to these areas in the custom code, the process will fail.
  • OSGi bundles and settings can no longer be customised via the Web Console. They must be committed via code.
  • Direct changes in the repository of the publish instances are no longer possible.
  • Classic UI is no longer available.

Ensuring compatibility with AEM as a cloud service can be quite a challenge to audit manually, so Adobe have created a Cloud Readiness Analyser (CRA) that does the hard work for you.  This report can take a few hours to scan all of your code, however it is quite detailed in its output. CRA works on AEM instance versions 6.1 and above and will show:

  • Areas of code which will need to be refactored
  • Functions currently in use that will be deprecated
  • Repository items that will need to moved to another area
  • Best practise recommendations
AEM to Cloud - Technical Limitations

How secure are cloud solutions?

This question, of course, is inevitable - especially in the context of cloud computing. Through proactive development, the latest industry and Adobe standards are always incorporated into the product and are available immediately. This greatly minimises the risk of security threats or downtime.  AEM as a Cloud Service is also SOC 2 certified and ISO compliant with further certifications planned for this year.


In summary, an AEM cloud migration project may seem daunting, but with the right support, both from internal stakeholders and your AEM partner, it doesn’t have to be. There are also tools to help assess if you are ready for migration, and to check for any technical limitations within your code base.

Moving your AEM instance to the Adobe cloud will reduce the dependency on your internal IT teams and improve the scalability of your services.  This is especially important for our retail clients who have seen dramatic increases in traffic during the current pandemic. So, not only will you get the scale you need during periods of increased demand, you can also be confident that your websites are always up to date with the latest security patches.

Take the next step

It’s important to inform your AEM cloud migration plan with data and insights specific to your business landscape and CX ambitions. Merkle now offers a complementary AEM to Cloud Migration ROI Assessment to companies considering this move – you can begin this process or learn more about it here.

Beyond AEM, Merkle is an expert across the full Adobe universe and we’d love to help you. Get in touch to learn about the many ways we help customer drive CX transformation with Adobe.