Adobe’s AEM Cloud Shift Reasserts Market Leadership

The move means added agility for enterprise customers, access to new markets, and accelerated integrations.

Cloud migration in 2020 is as strong as it has ever been. Enterprises are smartly adopting cloud infrastructure for a host of reasons including flexibility, security, and savings on technical overhead.

Adobe recently unveiled its Experience Manager (AEM) as a cloud service. The shift positions Adobe to leverage the advantages of cloud nativity directly into its impressive customer base, including 7/10 of the world’s largest auto, media, e-commerce, and pharmaceutical companies, as well as 9/10 of the largest US public companies. 

Need to Know

  • Adobe announced the launch of AEM as a cloud service, offering “rich out-of-box capabilities and content customization options with SaaS-like agility.”
  • After acquiring software platform Day in 2010, Adobe began transitioning and building out the platform, relaunching Day’s CQ platform as AEM in 2013.
  • Early results of the move to cloud show 50% faster data ingestion time, a 40% increase in administrative efficiency, zero downtime resulting from regularly scheduled updates, and an over 20% surge in author productivity.
  • Some of the biggest brands in the world use AEM, including nine out of 10 of the largest public companies in the US, nine out of 10 of the world’s largest car manufacturers, and nine out of 10 of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers.
  • AEM customers include Nissan, Chipotle, Under Armour, Home Depot, and Barclays.

The new AEM

Adobe Experience Manager is a robust content management solution (CMS) that enables companies to build websites, apps, e-commerce capabilities, forms, and more. AEM’s lifecycle began in 2010 when Adobe acquired Day and with it the then named CQ CMS. After the purchase, AEM began to take shape, and over the course of a decade gradually evolved to become a powerhouse platform that companies such as Nissan and Chipotle utilize to create compelling digital experiences. 

While AEM’s accolades of the past decade have propelled it to the front of the market, the move to cloud is the most significant.

Adobe had previously been offering experience manager as a cloud solution, but in reality, the cloud requirement was solved via managed services. This new announcement offers AEM as a separate cloud service, delivering agile services to both developers and marketers in a seamless fashion. 

“[Customers] want personalized and measured experiences and they want to deliver the best … With cloud services, we can be there. That’s the exciting aspect of cloud and that’s what I would say our dominating strategy looks like.”

Haresh Kumar, director of product marketing and strategy for Adobe Experience Manager.

Cloud software is nothing new for Adobe. The company offers several cloud-based platforms, including the marquee Creative Cloud suite of apps which is also actively being ported to the cloud.

“The exciting thing we’re looking forward to is that [this shift to cloud] allows us to showcase our solution to a lot more brands,” explains Haresh Kumar, director of product marketing and strategy for Adobe Experience Manager.

Inside Adobe’s NYC office.

A continued shift to the cloud means Adobe can now closely align with all of its cloud-hosted platforms and reach companies beyond the enterprise-scale, digging deep into the mid-market sector to offer a truly comprehensive package of options for different sized companies in every industry. 

“Historically, we’ve been known to serve our enterprise customers who have very complex requirements, and we’ve done that well,” continues Kumar. “But what’s exciting is now with this cloud service we can bring the richness of the product to mid-market customers, where the needs and requirements are similar, and really start to dominate the world of CMS. The only thing that changes is how they consume.”

“They all want personalized and measured experiences and they want to deliver the best, but the workflows and sizes are different. With cloud services, we can be there. That’s the exciting aspect of cloud and that’s what I would say our dominating strategy looks like.”

Engineering the AEM cloud shift

A majority of the effort is in the execution of a smooth transition. It is essential that every existing customer is able to keep existing extensibility features and migrate them to the newly-enhanced environment. For the customers, it must be seamless on day one.

“At the enterprise-scale, talking about the cloud is easy enough. ‘Yeah, sure, everyone should be on the cloud!’ But actually executing it on the enterprise-scale for established companies, that’s where the magic happened,” says Kumar. “That’s where our engineering prowess has been focused over the last three years.”

Adobe has made incredible investments in cloud capabilities over the last decade, and a lot has changed. The speed of innovation is so rapid that brands who are not embracing advantages now are quickly falling behind. That rate of change is one of the most exciting aspects for Kumar when it came to making Experience Manager a cloud service. 

“There’s a lot faster innovation we can deliver to customers,” he says. “The pace and the rate of innovation we deliver to the market has radically changed and evolved.”

AEM is widely used in essentially all verticals. Financial institutions, retailers, travel and hospitality companies—AEM is winning them all, even before this shift.

“When the opportunity arose to become an early adopter of Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service, we jumped at the chance due to the scalability of the offering,” said Ben Snyder, IT Product Owner at Under Armour. “Integration has been seamless. Already our digital asset manager is running on cloud service and the time to upload our new season assets has been massively reduced.”

The early results are eye-catching: zero reported downtime resulting from regularly scheduled updates, 50% faster data ingestion, a 40% increase in administrative efficiency, and a 20% increase in author productivity.

“When we think about being a market leader and delivering some of the most innovative technologies, then disrupting essentially the whole architecture and setting a whole new standard, to be honest, that’s essentially what this release is all about—setting a whole new standard … The bar has now moved in many ways.”


With AEM as a cloud service, brands can cut down launch time to weeks versus months, meaning those new experiences can be tested and act as the foundation for further audience interactions. That effect is multiplied by efficiencies from Adobe’s in-house AI platform Sensei. With the agility cloud computing provides, companies can access real-time insights from Sensei through the use of other Adobe platforms such as Target and Audience Manager, or through customized communication channels.

The ability to connect Experience Manager with other Adobe platforms was actually a key driver in the move to bring it to the cloud, and a major theme in Adobe’s continued software evolution. 

“That was actually part of the core facet of the transformation we’re doing, where we’re building a whole platform that essentially unifies all the apps within the Experience Cloud,” Kumar explains. “It also allows accessibility so you can bring in anything or any partner. With this cloud-native push, what we’ve done is we already built those big integrations and base connectivity within other Adobe apps, such as Analytics and Target. When you think about the CMS or DAM [Digital Asset Management] world, they become synonymous with wanting to measure, personalize, and scale that content across every channel and endpoint. We have now made that possible and easily configured right out of the box.” 

Surveying the CMS landscape

Adobe called the Day acquisition “a significant market opportunity to help organizations transform themselves,” and Adobe’s then SVP of digital enterprise solutions Rob Tarkoff said the new platform would “deliver on our vision of the web as the hub of customer interaction.”

Adobe’s 2010 vision for the web shifted the CMS landscape, and now as the shift to the cloud is completed, it’s forcing industry partners to take shape and recognize how real value can be delivered. 

“We’re fortunate to be in this position where we have such a strong customer base and partner ecosystem that are working with us to deliver some of the most innovative and mission-critical experiences in the world,” Kumar says. 

“Does this shift put pressure on the competition? Or on the industry to move? The reality is going to be found in what customers really want. And we’re confident in what we’ve been hearing.”