Imagine flying in a jet at 20,000 feet. Now imagine it flying 23 feet higher, because hey why not, it's almost 2023. You look out the window and see the landscape below from a wide perspective. Let's do the same for Kentico's next generation product platform Xperience by Kentico. Visualize yourself as a Kentico 12 or Kentico Xperience 13 site owner / developer flying over this new thing called Xperience by Kentico at 20,023 feet. What would you see? Oh, and for all you metric vs imperial lovers out there, 20,023 feet is 6103 meters.
Is it just an upgrade or is it something totally new? Is it just a new feature you can skip or is it worth taking a look deeper? Those are some good questions right? Let's get started answering some of them.
Xperience by Kentico and the problem it solves
Xperience by Kentico (from here on now abbreviated as Xperience) addresses a large challenge inherent to any CMS vendor with a wide user base: Modernization.
Technology marches on in the software development space at terrifying pace, Xperience is Kentico's answer to modernizing the platform that has been one of the best .NET CMSs / DXPs since 2014. It provides a newly built platform from the ground up in the most modern versions of .NET (.NET6/7 and ASP.NET Core). The new product from Kentico finally lets go of the legacy burden that the platform had from being built on the legacy Microsoft .NET 2.0 full framework.
Since Xperience is a full re-write in new tech, to solve modernization, the features of software are different than previous versions of Kentico, but the focus is almost the same. The figure below shows Xperience by Kentico's capabilities from 20,023 feet. Later on in the blog post series we will dive deeper into those features, but for now, this is a good perspective.
If you can allow me to be your flight captain on the remainder of this flight, I'm going to give you a bird's eye view of what you need to know about Xperience from the three perspectives below (business owners, marketers, and developers). I'm actually using some real questions that I have gotten from my clients/perspective clients at BizStream to answer what I see as common threads among all those conversations.
I'm going to share with you my knowledge as someone who has watched Xperience since it was just an internal project codenamed Odyssey (great codename by the way, I wonder who suggested it ;) ). I'll also share some real experience I have now that I've used Xperience to build one site already (launch is coming soon). Lastly, I've had some great conversations with the product team and executive team at Kentico about the vision for Xperience and how important it is to them. To be clear, some of this will also be my opinion on where Xperience is at, as we close the year. So, make sure your seat belts are buckled and they tightened across your laps, tray tables are stowed, and seatbacks are in their upright position, and let's dive in.
Xperience by Kentico Landscape for Business Users / Execs / Site Owners
If you look out to your right, through the starboard windows, you can see one of the biggest changes that Xperience has ever had to offer. That is the fact that Xperience by Kentico is now a SaaS / Managed service offering. Yes, you read that correctly. Kentico has spent a lot of resources on enhancing it's cloud story and is now leading with it. This is a new offering that is 100% specific and special to Xperience. Let me say it again to be clear, SaaS / Managed service is NOT available for Kentico 13 and lower versions of the software. The main benefit of the Xperience by Kentico SaaS / Managed service deployment option is that it will allow organizations to quickly get to the Microsoft Azure Cloud if they want to be in a Managed Service type of environment maintained by Kentico directly. Kentico has more details on what the SaaS / Managed service offering can actually do at the Kentico.com Blog, so I will let you read those on your own.
This did not just happen overnight. Kentico has spent a lot of time working to make sure this is not just Kentico+ all over again (a previous attempt at managed cloud based hosting). Luckily the Kentico+ jets have be retired and now sit in the airplane graveyard. May they rest in peace. New is a client portal for Xperience customers (pictured above). The portal allows for visibility into each client's instance, a way to deploy to the cloud instance on Azure automatically through built in CI/CD, and much more.
A common question I have seen over and over around the topic of SaaS / Managed service is wait, does that mean I can't locally deploy Xperience by Kentico into my own private data center / on-premise environment? The answer to that question is thankfully NO. Xperience by Kentico will still have, and always have, a local / private deployment option. This is directly out of the mouth of Dominik Pinter, the new CEO of Kentico. I know because he and I have personally talked about this at length. We both agree that there is a huge benefit to having flexibility and choice about which deployment model (SaaS/Public Cloud vs On-Premise/Private Cloud) is the best fit for your organization. I am thankful that Kentico still values both options. This option is sometimes called the license-only subscription.
The SaaS / Managed serivce offering for Xperience includes a large list of benefits for both end clients and partners alike:
- Scalability and performance options due to running in PaaS based options in Azure
- Automatic updates that keep the software up to date for your website project
- Enhanced security, again due to being constantly updated and in the cloud
- Quicker time to market due to the automation of environment / website creation (no need to wait for IT/development support)
- Enhanced resiliency and redundancy due to automatic backups and failover plans
- Managed directly by Kentico
I'm very excited about this option, but now let's move away from just the SaaS topic and back to Xperience in general.
Xperience by Kentico: The License Model / Pricing
The second question I have seen around Xperience from business owners has been around the licensing model. Often I am asked about if an existing long standing Kentico license will work for Xperience. The answer here is no. If you have an older style perpetual license (think K10, K11, K12 …), it will not work. You will need to be on the Xperience by Kentico subscription license model. Luckily there is a concept of a "Shared License" model that if you are a subscription license holder for 13, there will be a nice way to count that against the Xperience by Kentico subscription license. If you are curious about this, reach out to your sales rep and they can fill you in.
As you can see on the pricing page at Kentico.com/pricing, the license-only subscription starts at $11,100 / year, whereas the SaaS / Managed service subscription starts at $39,900 / year. This pricing range is similar to where Kentico Xperience 13 starts at, so it shouldn't really be a surprise to anyone. Of course the enterprise tiers ramp up in cost based on a few metrics as well.
Here's a handy graphic to compare your Xperience by Kentico subscription options:
Xperience by Kentico: The Migration from Kentico 13/12
The third most common question I have received around Xperience is what about if I am on Kentico 13 (or lower)? In fact here is an actual end client's wording of that question: "If support for Kentico 13.x ends in 2026. We would like to understand pro/cons of moving to 13.x vs Xperience [since we are on K12]. Even if we start on 13.x, we may be forced to move to Software as a service in few years again?". The answer to this question is not a straightforward one, I won't sugarcoat it. It truly should be answered with it depends. And it also depends on when.
If you are starting a rebuild project right now, today (as in the last day of 2022), for some projects moving to Kentico Xperience 13 MVC is the right answer. Again, as of today, for some smaller less complicated projects it also could make sense to move right to Xperience by Kentico (especially if e-commerce is not a requirement). But, if you are starting the project late Q1, Q2 of next year, that answer could be different. When you look at the published roadmap, it's clear that we should be thinking about the future for any project that starts in the near future.
As you can see, 2023 is going to be the first year where Xperience will be out of the XAP and ready for prime time / enterprise class projects. We don't know exactly when that will be yet, but Kentico is pushing heavy to get it launched as fast as possible. That is why I say the answer really is; it depends on when.
Here's the thing, as I mentioned, the landscape for Xperience by Kentico offers different features than Kentico 13 does. One killer new feature is the idea of a Content Hub for Atomic content. The idea here is that your team will have all the flexibility of granular content modelling, and all the benefits of a built-in centralized digital asset management system, personalization engine, and comprehensive metadata management. The content is actually managed outside of the Pages tree structure that Kentico users are familiar with. That same content can still be combined with the Page Builder and/or retrieved by the new Headless API. It's kind of the best of both worlds.
New features like this are why it is not "just an upgrade" from K13 to Xperience by Kentico. It is more like flying on a Boeing 737 vs. an Airbus A320. Both planes are narrowbody workhorses of air travel. While the 737 offering a higher cruising speed and larger capacity, the A320 has a wider cabin with larger passenger seats. They (being the Kentico software and the airplanes) are just two different products.
Eventually, I'm going to recommend that most Kentico customers should migrate to Xperience by Kentico. If you are on the latest version of KX13 /.NET Core that will be easier, or if you are looking to do a full rebuild / visual redesign that would also be a great time to make the jump [when Xperience by Kentico is fully launched and has had some time to cruise].
The above question also touches on the point of migration, or how do I get to Xperience by Kentico if I am already on Kentico Xperience . I'll answer that a later in the blog post series (from all 3 perspectives at once).
Your Captain Speaking: Part 1 of Xperience by Kentico at 23,000 feet
This is your captain speaking, I'm hoping your enjoying your flight as we have reached our cruising altitude of 23,000 feet. The flight will continue on to Part 2 of Xperience by Kentico at 23,000 feet, the landscape for Digital Marketers soon, and after that will be Part 3 of Xperience by Kentico at 23,000 feet, the landscape for Developers. Until the next part is published, sit back, relax, the cabin lights will be dimmed for this short break, and enjoy the remainder of the flight.