Migrating from AEM On-Premises to Cloud: Benefits, Steps & Best Practices

Migrating from AEM On-Premises to Cloud: Benefits, Steps & Best Practices

For enterprises leveraging Adobe Experience Manager, it is always a concern as to if they are making the most out of their investment. Most organizations on AEM On-Premises rely on Adobe Experience Manager managed services to accomplish KPIs around scalability, cost efficiency, flexibility, improved performance, enhanced security, integration with other cloud services, and simplified management.

At Ranosys, we’ve been assisting enterprises in smoothly transitioning to AEM as a Cloud Service from AEM On-Premises or their legacy CMS. In this guide, we discuss:

  • The difference between AEM On-Premises and AEM Cloud
  • Why it’s time to transition to AEM Cloud from On-Premises or otherwise 
  • The steps involved to successfully migrate from AEM On-Premises to the Cloud
  • Key aspects to consider when planning for AEM On-Premises to Cloud migrate
  • The common challenges and pitfalls to consider beforehand 

AEM On-Premises to AEM as a Cloud Service : Key differences 

Enterprises looking to migrate from their legacy infrastructure find Adobe Experience Manager On-Premises to be a compelling choice due to multitude of benefits. Full control over the environment, easy fulfillment of compliance requirements, the power to fine-tune every aspect of your AEM setup, and more. However, with time, as organizational demands around scalability, management, and seamless integrations with other cloud services and third-party apps gain momentum, most enterprises go for Adobe managed services as the middle ground. 

Adobe managed services solves the prominent and upfront challenges of scalability, security, agility, and reliability. Most importantly, it frees them from the burgeoning task of infrastructure management, which is the primary reason why enterprises look for such services. Overall, an investment in Adobe managed services results in high availability of the AEM environment, improved performance, regular patches and upgrades. 

So, why would enterprises still choose to invest in Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud service? Simple reason, to establish more control of the AEM environment. Let’s break down how. 

Introduced in 2020, AEM as a Cloud Service is Adobe’s vision of gaining complete control over digital experience management. With Cloud Services, enterprises leverage the power of cloud to scale automatically, implement stringent security protocols, take compliance one step ahead, and deliver engaging experiences across channels. 


AEM On-Premises 

AEM as a Cloud Service

Licensing costDepends on infrastructure. Cost includes hardware and AEM instanceDepends on usage, not infrastructure
ScalabilityScalability depends on infrastructure hardware and licensing cost. On-demand auto-scaling not availableAllows on-demand auto-scaling owing to its infrastructure flexibility
MaintenanceHigh maintenance cost managed by the enterpriseMaintenance cost is managed by Adobe
New features and upgradesNot easily available, plus they are costly. Features become available only post CFP deploymentEnterprises get their hands on new features and upgrades automatically with new Adobe releases
Security fixesTakes more time to become available in production, less secureMore secure as fixed are applied regularly and automatically
Publish/unpublishChanges are possible directly on the publish instance. Employ custom or available replication agents for content publish/unpublish.Employ Sling content distribution for publishing content. Changes are not possible directly on the publish instance. No option to use or create replication agents for content publish/unpublish.
DeploymentNo such restriction on usage of Adobe CDN.Adobe CDN recommended. License required to employ other CDNs.
CRX/DE AccessAccess restricted on higher STAGE and PROD environmentsAvailable on STAGE and PROD environments
Instance Setup CostA monolithic architecture, significant cost and efforts spend to set up environment and componentsMicroservices-based architecture, no cost involved for instance setup
Content typeNo restrictions on mutable or immutable contentStrict approach followed for mutable and immutable content
LogsRequires server-specific access to download logsAll logs (author, dispatcher, and publisher) can be easily downloaded from Cloud manager
Code DeploymentAny custom tool can be usedOnly cloud manager used for deployment
OSGI ConfigurationPermits creation of environment variables as a part of the OSGI configurationsAllows creation of environment variables as a part of the OSGI configurations

Benefits of moving to AEM as a Cloud Service

As an enterprise, it is imperative to highlight the ROI impact of any significant upgrade/migration. When moving from AEM On-Premises to the Cloud, you can expect to reap the following benefits:

#1: 99.99% website availability 

AEM as a Cloud Service ensures that your website is always online and at peak performance. It empowers operational growth both horizontally and vertically to deliver engaging experiences at all times. AEM Cloud smoothly handles even the most intensive traffic loads, ensuring maximum uptime without any tedious indulgence of your team. In fact, you can easily scale up or down based on their requirements without the need to invest in additional hardware or infrastructure.

#2: Better security 

Security has always been a pressing concern for enterprises, both big and small. And with AEM Cloud, you can expect stringent security measures to protect your infrastructure and customer data. Adobe itself releases security patches and bug fixes regularly, monitors the infrastructure continuously and provides upfront support whenever a security issue is raised. 

#3: Simplified content management

Managing AEM in the cloud is often simpler and more streamlined compared to On-premises deployments. Cloud providers handle tasks such as infrastructure maintenance, backups, and updates, allowing IT teams to focus on more strategic initiatives.

#4: Reduced total cost of ownership 

AEM as a Cloud Service drastically reduces TCO and mid-term ROI. Since the cloud-model is usage-driven, enterprises can save on licensing by saving on fixed hardware costs. Instead of spending on Adobe managed services, with AEM as a Cloud Service, enterprises leverage automatic version updates and environment management, which means you will always be leveraging the latest version of the CMS. Plus, you can scale up and down as per your organizational demands. 

Another substantial cost parameter deleted is infrastructure and hosting spent. Since you don’t have to maintain your infrastructure or spend a fortune on On-premises hosting, it reduces your mid-term ROI drastically. 

Of course, there will be costs incurred when migrating from On-premises to the cloud, but the investment is mostly one-time. 

#5: Improved Performance

Cloud platforms often provide better performance and reliability compared to On-premises solutions. Enterprises can leverage the global infrastructure of cloud providers to ensure low-latency access for users across different regions.

Migrating from AEM On-Premises to AEM as a Cloud Service: A step guide

The following steps are strategically designed, after careful planning, to help enterprises migrate successfully from On-premises to the cloud. Our team follows a week-by-week plan to ensure a smooth transition to AEM as a Cloud Service. 

#1: Study, analyze, and document the steps

The first step is to dive deep into AEM as a Cloud Service, how the changes would impact your current operational environment, features available/unavailable, and discuss all the possible requirements with your Adobe Experience Manager service provider. 

The major discussion points would be: 

  • Separate Mutable and Immutable Filters into corresponding packages: In the cloud environment, it's crucial to organize filters into separate packages for better manageability and performance.
  • Custom Run modes are not permitted: Unlike On-premises setups, custom run modes are restricted in the cloud, necessitating adjustments to configuration management.
  • Sling Content Distribution replaces Replication Agents: The cloud paradigm favors Sling Content Distribution over traditional Replication Agents for more efficient content distribution.
  • Built-in CDN and option to procure your own: AEM in the cloud offers a built-in CDN option, or you can opt for your own CDN for enhanced content delivery.
  • Asynchronous Operations: Cloud deployments prioritize asynchronous operations for improved efficiency and resource utilization.
  • File IO and Disk Usage considerations: Cloud-based AEM requires careful management of file IO and disk usage for optimal performance and cost-effectiveness.
  • Transition to Cloud Manager Pipeline Execution: Cloud Manager Pipeline Execution becomes the primary method for deployment in AEM cloud environments.
  • CRX/DE and Package Manager changes: Expect adjustments in CRX/DE and Package Manager functionalities when migrating to the cloud.
  • Implementation of Long Running Jobs: Long running jobs may require reconfiguration or adaptation to suit the cloud environment.
  • Adoption of Token-based authentication: Token-based authentication and integration strategies become pivotal in ensuring secure access to AEM resources.
  • DAM Update Asset Workflow enhancements: Expect changes and enhancements in DAM Update Asset Workflow functionalities in the cloud environment.
  • Workflow Launchers modifications: Workflow Launchers may need adjustments to align with cloud-specific requirements.
  • Authentication alterations: Changes to authentication mechanisms are necessary to align with cloud security protocols.
  • Dispatcher Configurations and Caching adjustments: Dispatcher Configurations and Caching mechanisms may need reconfiguration for optimal performance in the cloud.
  • Not all maintenance tasks are configurable: Certain maintenance tasks may no longer be configurable in the cloud environment, requiring alternative approaches.
  • Custom Rendition Steps considerations: Custom Rendition Steps may require updates to function seamlessly in the cloud.
  • Supported workflow process steps and asset upload methods: Verify supported workflow process steps and asset upload methods to ensure compatibility with AEM as a Cloud Service.
  • Backup and Restore procedures: Adapt backup and restore procedures to suit the cloud environment's architecture and capabilities.
  • Changes to Publish repository: Expect changes to the Publish repository structure and management in the cloud environment.
  • Content Search and Indexing optimizations: Optimize content search and indexing processes to leverage cloud infrastructure capabilities effectively.
  • Architecture adjustments with automatic horizontal scaling: Cloud deployments offer automatic horizontal scaling capabilities, necessitating adjustments to architecture design.
  • Project code structure adaptations: Modify project code structures to align with cloud deployment best practices and guidelines.
  • Dispatcher configuration enhancements: Enhance Dispatcher configurations to leverage cloud-based caching and delivery mechanisms effectively.
  • Network, API connections, DNS & SSL configuration: Reconfigure network settings, API connections, DNS, and SSL configurations to ensure seamless operation in the cloud.
  • Integration with CI/CD pipelines: Integrate AEM deployments with CI/CD pipelines for streamlined development and deployment processes.
  • AEM author access via Adobe account: Access to AEM author instances may require authentication through Adobe accounts in the cloud environment.
  • User groups & permissions adjustments: Adjust user groups and permissions configurations to ensure proper access control in the cloud-based AEM setup.

When planning a migration, it is imperative to bring your current stakeholders, partners and Adobe team up-to-date. This should include the efforts required, tasks at hand, timeframes, teams involved, etc. Your Adobe POC will ensure that you have the required licensing agreements and appropriate subscriptions for AEM as a Cloud Service.  

#2: Preparing the code and environments for AEM as a Cloud Service

This step is completely technical and involves getting your AEM environment ready for the Cloud. 

Adobe provides a related tool called Adobe Best Practices Analyzer that reviews your current AEM setup to suggest upgrades and best practices. Certified AEM experts can access the report to provide insights into the health of your current AEM environment and suggest changes for the Cloud. 

AEM teams will also clean up code and other outdated features to ensure seamless migration to the cloud and improve performance. Next step would be to set up the AEM Cloud Manager, the very backbone of AEM as a Cloud Service. 

Of course, your AEM migration service provider will also test everything thoroughly post migration but the key is to ensure that you have a robust setup for AEM as a Cloud Service. 

#3: Migrating code and projects to the AEM Cloud

By now, your code has been cleaned and adjusted to work on your current AEM instance and in the Cloud. Ensure that all your environments (staging, production, etc) have been configured for the Cloud and are ready to use. Now, all you need to do is push your code to the Cloud GIT repository. It is suggested to not make any big changes to your code during this time. 

#4: Checking for integration with external systems and core services 

Your website might be integrated with external systems via APIs for performance optimization. Therefore, it is imperative that your AEM Cloud environment is also seamlessly integrated with these services. All of the required configurations are to be conducted in AEM Cloud Manager. 

Also, AEM as a Cloud Service gives you a static IP that needs to be allowed on your end. This lets your website connect with our programs that are on-site.

#5: Integration with other Adobe Experience Cloud applications

While this is not a mandatory step, you can also leverage other AEC apps like Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target for your website. As the integration is pretty easy, you can derive insights via web analytics and personalize every experience with these tools. 

#6: Content Migration

All your webpage content, assets, and data is categorized under content. To ensure seamless content migration, you can leverage Adobe’s Content Transfer Tool to move your content from On-premises to the cloud. As you change content in your production environment, this tool ensures it is reflected on the cloud as well. 

#7: Test the migration 

This is where you test your entire AEM environment via UAT session. This is where the QA teams and business users come into play. Onboarding your marketing and content team  (authors) is also a plus in this step as they are the actual individuals who will work most on it and determine how a component should function. 

Once you’ve undergone comprehensive testing, you can expect uninterrupted operations in the new environment and  deliver engaging experiences to your visitors. Now, it's time to go live. 

#8: Train your teams on the new instance

As the admin interface remains the same, your authors won’t notice much of a difference. However, it is essential that you make them aware of Adobe Cloud Manager. 

Also, the entire management of this new tool should be under the IT or DevOps team. Our AEM experts can train your teams on the new environment and answer specific questions as they arise. 

Whether or not you keep the On-premise instance totally depends on your scalability goals. While it is rare that you might go back to the On-premise instance, you must keep it running for some weeks post migration. This is in case any issue arises with the AEM Cloud architecture. 

How can Ranosys assist with AEM On-Premises to Cloud migration?

While we’ve tried to cover the functional aspects of migration, the actual process is highly technical and demands the expertise of certified AEM experts. As a leading Adobe Experience Manager Consulting Partner, we’re aware of the entire process and can help in swiftly migrating from AEM On-Premises to the Cloud. Our team of AEM developers can strategize the entire migration process and even provide post-migration support, training and managed solutions. Connect with our Adobe AEM experts to discuss your migration needs.

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