10 Solid Reasons to Upgrade to AEM 6.4

10 Solid Reasons to Upgrade to AEM 6.4

July 10, 2018 0 By Tad Reeves

Thanks to being an AEM Engineer with Rackspace, I was able to attend this year’s Adobe Summit in Las Vegas where AEM 6.4 was released officially. Adobe Experience Manager 6.4 is arguably the most compelling new release of Adobe’s digital experience management platform to come along in years, offering extremely powerful new features.

The first three are made possible by connectivity to Sensei, Adobe’s amazing new AI platform.

Powered by Sensei AI:

Smart crop and imaging 

Individually cropping images for various experiences (mobile vs. desktop, portrait vs. landscape, square vs. long-rectangle ad formats, etc.) has traditionally been an excruciatingly labor-intensive part of executing a marketing campaign. Adobe Sensei AI machine-learning can identify important elements of an image and intelligently auto-crop and resize images for various layouts, resulting in massive time savings for your creative and content authoring staff.

Overview of event-driven architecture of Adobe Sensei in AEM Assets
Overview of event-driven architecture of Adobe Sensei in AEM Assets

Additionally, smart imaging allows AEM to detect available bandwidth and device type to automatically reduce image size down by up to 70 percent upon delivery with no loss in fidelity on that device.

Smart layouts

Smart Layouts also makes use of Adobe Sensei machine learning, as well as data from Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target to automatically build relevant experiences for a given content set. A feature Adobe has been working on for the last three years, Smart Layouts built a page layout automatically to optimize for a KPI which you select (value per visit, customer lifetime value, subscriber growth rate, etc), thereby magnifying conversion rates for every page. (Note: the foundational technology for Smart Layouts is included in the April release of AEM 6.4, but full functionality on this will not be available until mid-summer.)

Architecture Diagram of AEM 6.4 with Adobe Sensei
Architecture Diagram of AEM 6.4 with Adobe Sensei

Automatic Smart Tags 

Powered by Adobe Sensei, Smart Tags uses a self-learning algorithm to automatically identify and tag items in your photos — including both generic objects (sky, buildings, clouds, etc.) as well as items specific to your business (i.e. clothing types, automobile models, etc.). As your library and your image taxonomy expand, Smart Tags allows your content authors to quickly and accurately be able to make use of your digital library.

Seven more reasons to upgrade:

Experience Fragments hotspots with Dynamic Media

With AEM 6.4, users can compose Experience Fragments with Dynamic Media to instantly reassemble fragments upon delivery into layouts that fit any targeted screen size. This additional capability empowers marketers to add more interactive or engaging experiences like clickable hotspots, videos or product information pop-ups.

Style System for web components

AEM 6.4 rolls out a new theming system for individual page components to create a consistent look, feel and experience across components or pages — maximizing design flexibility while minimizing development effort. The Style System allows you to create visual variations of web components with zero back-end development, which an author can then select from when designing experiences.

Adobe Launch integration  

Adobe Launch (Previously known as Dynamic Tag Management) is an embracive solution for managing all the various tracking codes used across your properties for user behavior tracking, performance and user experience measurement, e-commerce and conversion metrics. Adobe Launch now has deep integration with AEM so as to be able to instrument any of the properties you manage with AEM. Also, because Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target are required for the amazing Sensei-driven Smart Layout to work, this is a critical component to implementation.

Multi-language search and reverse translation memory

New multi-language features include automation around “reverse translation memory,” which stores edits you make to inbound translations, so that future translations of similar text can be automatically re-used across authors. Also, AEM assets search now has multi-language capability, using Sensei to translate search terms in real time. Users can enter a keyword in one language, and the Sensei algorithm will translate that keyword instantaneously, searching and delivering matching assets across defined language libraries.

Single-page application editor

A groundbreaking new feature for AEM is support for single-page apps written in React.JS or Angular. Whereas content authors trying to edit a single-page application previously would have needed deep Javascript development experience, AEM will be able to import single page applications into the Author environment, allowing content authors to select and modify content areas in the application without having to write any code.

Enhanced maintenance functionality

Properly maintaining an AEM installation is one of the most critical parts of ensuring the site runs smoothly and reliably. AEM 6.4 adds enhanced system logging to each of the main maintenance functions, extremely helpful for system administrators as the status and efficacy of maintenance actions could sometimes be opaque as to what was really happening  while the system conducted performance-degrading, IO-heavy operations.

Also, AEM 6.4 introduces a new “Tail Compaction” method for reducing disk utilization.  Previous versions of AEM had an achilles heel, in that they would need to be periodically brought offline entirely to execute a “Tar Compaction” routine, which was the only mechanism for reducing disk usage. In large repositories, this Tar Compaction could take hours, and in some very large repositories, DAYS to complete. AEM 6.4’s Tail Compaction allows one to run a compaction online, and then quickly run a compaction periodically on the “tail” of only those things which have been added and modified in the repository since the last compaction. This would allow a compaction to be run even several times per DAY as appropriate, thereby keeping all of your AEM instances lean, mean and performant.

Improved In-Place Upgrade

One of the factors which has impeded organizations from moving from earlier versions of CQ5 or AEM to the latest AEM release is the utter pain that usually accompanies that.  Anyone who’s tried the move from AEM 5.6.1 to AEM 6.0 knows what I’m talking about.  It many times ends up as a year-long process just to get an existing site moved to the new version, never mind implementing the new features that the new version brings with it.

Adobe has been working overtime to try to make the in-place upgrade experience better for AEM, and for once, the recommended way to move from AEM 6.3 to AEM 6.4 is not to do a side-by-side migration, but to upgrade in-place.

This document goes into more detail on the AEM upgrade process: https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/6-4/sites/deploying/using/upgrade.html

Have any of you taken the plunge to move to AEM 6.4?   A number of our clients at Rackspace have already done so, and I’m eager to see what they create with it.