Sitecore vs Adobe Experience Manager
Sitecore and Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) are two of the leading vendors in the digital experience space. Both are proven, world-class tools that enable organizations to manage the entire digital experience from top to bottom.
However, while each platform continues to be recommended by analysts as the perfect choice for your next DXP, deciding between the two is easier said than done and will depend on several factors, from the size of your business to the current makeup of your tech stack, and the level of support you’ll need.
At Oshyn, one of the most common questions we get from clients is how Sitecore and AEM compare. In this article, we’ll provide the information you need about each platform to help you make the best decision for your business.
Sitecore vs. Adobe Experience Manager: An Overview
Before we look at each DXP, we first need to meet the contenders.
Sitecore is an end-to-end digital experience software solution that combines data, content, commerce, and experiences into one platform. Sitecore enables enterprises to meet their digital experience requirements with a range of solutions, including content management and operations, personalization & testing, marketing automation, commerce, and more.
Sitecore is available as a SaaS-enabled composable DXP that provides modular software solutions hosted in the cloud where the vendor handles upgrades and infrastructure requirements. It can also be used as a platform DXP (Sitecore XP/Sitecore XM), which offers an integrated suite hosted on-premises that provides architectural control for customers. However, in general the company is moving toward the composable DXP solution.
Sitecore is .NET based, making it the go-to platform for Microsoft-focused companies with developers already comfortable with .NET. It also allows for integrations with third-party software using the API-based xConnect service layer for maximum flexibility and scalability.
Relevant tools in the Sitecore suite of products:
Adobe Experience Manager
Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is a content and digital asset management system businesses can use to manage the entire digital experience. As one of the most popular CMS solutions on the internet and part of the Adobe Experience Cloud, AEM streamlines the process of content delivery and management with its multilingual, multi-platform, multi-device capabilities.
AEM consists of six modules — Sites, Assets, Forms, Screens, Guides, and Learning Manager —that provide a powerful platform for building websites, mobile applications, and other content experiences.
AEM has its own niche development technologies, namely OSGi, Oak, JCR, and Sling. This can make it seem very complex, making it difficult to set up or extend without a platform expert on hand to guide you through the implementation process.
Relevant tools in the Adobe Experience Cloud:
Adobe Audience Manager
Adobe Real-Time CDP
Sitecore vs Adobe Experience Manager: A Comparison
When most enterprises want to compare Sitecore and Adobe, they tend to be looking for a content management system. As such, our comparison will focus initially on the content management capabilities of Sitecore XM/XM Cloud and AEM Sites.
However, for DXPs as robust as these, other factors will come into play, including technology profiles, additional marketing features, approaches to composability, community support, and more, which we will also consider.
Content Authoring and Experience
Sitecore offers an easy-to-use platform that provides a consistent user experience. Its content management capabilities include a WYSIWYG editor, so marketers won’t need a developer to create, publish, and manage content in Sitecore. Additionally, multiple users can author or edit content simultaneously on Sitecore.
According to one Application Development Senior Analyst for a Mid-Market enterprise, “Sitecore really helps us to provide a customized and personalized experience for our website users across various channels and efficiently create and manage our digital web content for marketing purposes.”
Meanwhile, AEM Sites provides a user-friendly suite of content services that content teams can leverage to create engaging digital experiences. Its features include an in-context WYSIWYG interface with drag-and-drop capabilities and an intuitive UI enabling marketers to create and manage content easily.
For an SVP of Marketing at an enterprise company, “The speed at which we can spin up micro-sites for regional events and conferences has been a game changer for us with AEM. We used to ask our internal web team to create these micro-sites, and there was a lead time of at least four weeks. Now I can have a single 2-3 page website up and running in a few hours.”
Both Sitecore and AEM provide headless capabilities that enable teams to deliver content to multiple channels and for developers to extend functionality.
Verdict: Tie. With proper customization, enterprises can benefit hugely from either platform’s content management and authoring functionalities.
|Web Framework||Apache Sling||Microsoft ASP.NET|
|Database Server||Java Content Repository||SQL|
Sitecore is a highly integrated enterprise platform that runs on the ASP.NET development framework. For companies requiring on-premises capabilities, Sitecore PaaS provides a flexible platform to scale up and down as users grow. Additionally, the managed cloud option removes the need to maintain dedicated servers.
For others, Sitecore’s SaaS-enabled DXP option enables customers to have everything hosted in the cloud and managed by Sitecore.
Through the Sitecore xConnect API framework, Sitecore products can seamlessly interact with MarTech systems. The flexibility of Sitecore-based development is particularly helpful to companies that need to develop customized solutions. However, this flexibility comes at a cost, as the out-of-the-box version could use tweaking.
AEM is part of a robust suite of tools that make up the Adobe Experience Cloud. The Java Content Repository (JCR) is the base level of the AEM technology stack and provides underlying content persistence, search, storage, and access control. AEM is typically deployed on-premises; however, the AEM as a Cloud Service (AEMaaCS) option also enables a SaaS version of the DXP.
Verdict: Tie. Both platforms are built on robust and well-known technologies. However, developers working with each system have been known to complain about the steep learning curve.
Approach to Composability
Sitecore has embraced composability by releasing its SaaS DXP capabilities and products such as XM Cloud, Sitecore Search, Content Hub One, and Sitecore Order Cloud. Rather than have to purchase the entire Sitecore XP suite, companies can choose the different tools that make sense for them and embrace a best-of-breed approach instead.
Integrations with other products outside of the Sitecore ecosystem is possible, even though developers and IT teams might have an easier time working with those within the ecosystem, allowing them to take advantage of the smoother integrations between products from the same vendor. However, Sitecore encourages enterprises to choose the best approach for them, even if it means using non-Sitecore vendors.
Unlike Sitecore, Adobe’s approach to composability is centered around making integrations between the assortment of tools within the Adobe Experience Cloud much easier. As such, AEM customers can easily integrate with Adobe Analytics, Adobe Commerce, and other products in the suite.
Verdict: Sitecore. Companies that want to embrace composability and select best-of-breed technologies to make up their tech stack will have an easier time using Sitecore. While AEM can be integrated with other third-party solutions, Adobe’s composability view differs.
Personalization & Marketing Features
Enterprise marketers can’t rely only on an intuitive CMS to handle their marketing campaign requirements. They also need additional marketing and personalization features. Plus, with the addition of artificial intelligence into many modern CMSs today, how those AI-focused features are embedded within the systems and what they allow marketers to do is also essential.
AEM is known for enabling content teams to create personalized content at scale. Marketers can create content once and then make variations for distribution to different audiences without creating content again from scratch.
With Experience Fragments, teams have grouped sets of content to create variations of experiences for delivery across multiple channels. Adobe Sensei GenAI can also leverage AI to find the right content faster and speed up content creation.
Adobe also provides several additional marketing features as part of its suite, including Adobe Analytics, Adobe Campaign, and Adobe Target for A/B testing. Many marketers often laud the capabilities built into Adobe Analytics. Marketers can combine Adobe Analytics with Adobe Target and AEM to enable multi-channel personalization and effective A/B and multivariate testing. However, these tools are sold separately from AEM and must be integrated.
One mid-market enterprise software engineer said, “AEM has helped me by providing centralized content management, enabling personalized experiences, facilitating multi-channel delivery, streamlining workflow and collaboration, offering powerful analytics and optimization capabilities, ensuring scalability, and integrating seamlessly with the Adobe ecosystem.”
You can create unique user experiences with Sitecore by leveraging its superior personalization capabilities. Sitecore has been known to stand out among other DXP competitors on the market and provides features such as advanced marketing automation, A/B and multivariate testing, analytics, and machine learning-based segmentation and targeting through tools like Sitecore Personalize. Generative AI features are also available to enhance the content creation process.
Sitecore offers the option of the features out-of-the-box in one platform as the platform DXP, or you could opt for the composable DXP option and choose different solutions from within the ecosystem that fit your needs.
One customer in the consumer-good industry mentioned:
“Consider what requirements you need, and if you only need basic CMS features you may be better with a more basic solution. Question whether you will take advantage of the personalization and analytics features. These are big features that some customers do not take advantage of.”
Verdict: Tie. Adobe and Sitecore are excellent platforms with top-notch marketing features that many enterprises don’t take full advantage of. Depending on the needs of your business, either platform will provide everything you need. However, one caveat is that while you can enjoy these features directly out-of-the-box with Sitecore, Adobe markets them separately, potentially costing you more.
Community & Partner Support
One of the most critical factors for enterprises to consider when choosing a DXP is the community support and partner ecosystem. It helps ensure you get the most out of your investment, as these partners will be the ones you turn to for implementation help and ongoing support.
Sitecore makes great efforts to develop a strong partner network and streamline the partnership process to create a positive end-user experience. Partners provide access to helpful blog content, tutorials, and technical support.
On top of that, Sitecore offers incentives to users who participate in the Sitecore community. It also provides a service level agreement (SLA) with tailored support for Sitecore clients. You can interact through Sitecore’s active Slack community chat channel, which boasts over 8,000 members, and the subreddit forum, with over 1,100 participants.
The AEM community makes provision for comprehensive community and partner support. Several free product documentation and digital guides are available to ensure a smooth journey for partners and community members. The Adobe support team is always available to respond to developers and solve issues when required.
Verdict: Tie. AEM offers extensive community support to help enterprises when they are in need. Meanwhile, Sitecore offers a more robust partner ecosystem that you can count on to provide support throughout the implementation phase and even after completion. Regardless of your choice, an agency like Oshyn, which offers support for both Sitecore and Adobe, can provide a unique perspective on which system would work best for your business.
Pricing & TCO
Most enterprises aren’t necessarily phased by the sticker price for a piece of software, but the total cost of ownership plays a significant role in decision-making. Sitecore and AEM are both high-cost solutions. The final price depends on the specific use cases and business requirements.
Sitecore offers competitive pricing in the enterprise CMS category. With a SaaS DXP where each product is available separately the price can vary based on the needs of the business but with a typical implementation the total cost of ownership should remain stable.
AEM is also competitively priced but with higher implementation costs and the need to add additional products from the suite over time; the total cost of ownership could be somewhat expensive.
Verdict: Sitecore. Even though both platforms are expensive, Sitecore is more competitively priced than AEM. In the long run, you’ll likely save more on development costs by leveraging Sitecore, especially if you take advantage of its active community and expert developers.
Regardless of the platform chosen, the key is to have proper advice and support from knowledgeable implementation partners.
Why Opt for Sitecore
Many of the reasons enterprises choose Sitecore as their DXP include:
Consistent Digital Experiences: With Sitecore, marketers and IT can collaborate seamlessly to create, manage, optimize, and deliver experiences.
Sitecore AI-enhanced DAM: By leveraging Sitecore AI, you can identify trends among visitors and segment customers more accurately. This feature also extends to digital asset management.
Centralized Content Hub: With Sitecore’s Content Hub, marketers can manage all content assets across all platforms like websites, eCommerce, and more.
Extensive support system: Sitecore Support provides a comprehensive Knowledge Base, online communities, and an expert development team that provides support and insight into a wide range of topics.
Sitecore provides a competitive option for smaller to medium-sized enterprises that need a content management solution. Sitecore’s commitment to composability means that if you already employ other solutions in your tech stack, like a different ecommerce platform or personalization engine, integrating a Sitecore product could prove advantageous.
Why Opt for AEM
Many of the reasons enterprises choose AEM as their DXP include:
User-friendly CMS: Marketers can leverage its intuitive inline features, drag and drop, and content authoring functionalities to increase CMS productivity.
Content-driven & personalized experiences: By integrating Adobe Target and Adobe Analytics, AEM delivers a tailored shopping experience for B2C and B2B brands.
Extensive Adobe products support: Apart from AEM, there are several other Adobe products that you can leverage for enterprise use, including Creative Cloud and Adobe Analytics.
Faster time to market: AEM reduces complexity in workflow, making it easier to manage, create, and distribute content.
If you currently utilize other tools within the Adobe suite and seek a seamless integration across your entire digital experience platform (DXP), opting for AEM is the ideal choice. Adobe offers an extensive array of products designed to bolster your digital experience. For larger enterprises with the financial resources, Adobe products tend to provide a higher level of product maturity than other options.
Choosing The Ideal Enterprise DXP Platform
Everything else being equal, if pricing, total cost of ownership, and composability are the most important factors to your business, then Sitecore would be the best option for you. However, if it comes down to the content management capabilities, personalization & marketing features, and available partner support matter more, then AEM could provide exactly what you’re looking for.
Ultimately, the decision depends on the current makeup of your business, your existing technology solutions and personnel resources, and your vision for the future. Regardless, getting help from an experienced Sitecore and Adobe partner like Oshyn could help you make the right choice.
We’ve built a stellar reputation working with top brands, including Dole, Brandman University, Wolters Kluwer, Volkswagen, and Aetna. And they’ve partnered with top creative talents like Sapient-Razorfish, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, 72andSunny, and many more. We’ve also helped numerous other businesses understand which CMS option best fits their needs.
Contact us today to find out which option is the best fit for you.