Moving to AEM as a Cloud Service


You might be running AEM on-prem using infrastructure that’s succeeded at handling your company software needs so far. But, as new versions of AEM arrive, your infrastructure can become insufficient.

And we’re not saying your IT team can’t take care of the maintenance of the AEM infrastructure and updates to it. But is that the most valuable thing they could be spending their time on right now?

AEM delivers a powerful package of benefits for companies, no matter what version of it you have. But as your company’s needs grow, the effort of hosting AEM and keeping it up to par…can cause diminishing returns from the software.

The good news? This doesn’t mean it’s curtains between your company and AEM. AEM as a Cloud Service has the same benefits as AEM 6.5 that you love, minus the maintenance costs of your existing version. You really can have your cake and eat it too—and we’re going to show you how it works.

What Is AEM as a Cloud Service?

Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service (AEMaaCS), is fully cloud-native software. Previously, AEM has been available as an on-premise software (AEM 6.5) stored locally on your company’s hardware. It’s also been available as managed services, which is a cloud-enabled approach to AEM 6.5.

Unlike the other two versions, AEMaaCS functions fully within the cloud, hosted by Microsoft Azure. It consists of a different architecture than the on-premise and managed services versions. This enables it to be faster and more scalable.

AEM 6.5 vs. AEM Managed Services vs. AEM as a Cloud Service

AEM has seen a few different software versions over the last few years, including:

  • AEM 6.5 (on-premise)
  • AEM Managed Services
  • AEM as a Cloud Service Adobe’s been gradually working up to the cloud-native software of the future. But that doesn’t necessarily make the other versions irrelevant (yet).

Essentially, each version of AEM is the same CMS that marketers and content producers know and appreciate. But each one has a handful of differences related to architecture, infrastructure, computing power, and features.

And while the AEM as a Cloud Service has perks that benefit most companies, there are some cases where the on-premise version supremes (we’ll get into that a little later).

For now, let’s dig into more details about the differences you can expect from version to version. Architecture and infrastructure While all versions enable you to use AEM as a powerful CMS and DAM, the implementation and load handling of each version differ.

The on-premise version of AEM 6.5 must be hosted on your company devices and servers. As such, it relies on the power those devices and servers have to process your publishing load. The strain of accomplishing tasks like uploading assets can impede your time to production if your systems aren’t equipped for this load.

AEM Managed Services relies on cloud-nativity to offload processing requirements from the AEM software onto the cloud. This speeds up AEM’s time to publish, improves load processing capability, and makes it a more agile software overall.

You won’t be storing this version locally on your company hardware or servers, but you’ll still maintain the look and feel of on-premise AEM 6.5.

It might feel like this information blurs the line between AEM Managed Services and AEM as a Cloud Service. But it’s important to note that AEM Managed Services does have some limitations, even though it’s cloud-enabled.

One such limitation is that there is a cap on the load processing capabilities of the infrastructure out-of-the-box. If you have too many authoring or publishing activities occurring at once, you might max out the load limit you licensed for your AEM environment. In this case, you’ll need to scale up your environment on-demand, incurring additional costs.

AEM as a Cloud Service, on the other hand, can expand the load-handling capability of your Adobe digital experiences in AEM automatically. This enables the software to meet authoring and publishing demands as they fluctuate, without any additional cost to do so.

When the authoring and publishing load increases, AEMaaCS automatically increases the number of containers available to run those activities in your cloud environment. This distributes the load more evenly and preserves the speed of production, even when you have a lot going on.

Differences in AEM Sites as a Cloud Service

AEM Sites is an application that allows you to ensure content consistency as you diversify and globalize your site. As a cloud service in AEM, it also comes with a few differences worth noting.

Thanks to the cloud-native functionality, it’s much simpler for AEM sites to run page rollouts in the background while you do other tasks. What’s more, it’s able to do this without disrupting any other AEM processes.

Differences in AEM Assets as a Cloud Service

AEM Assets is an advanced DAM platform for storing and organizing company files. Like AEM Sites, it also has some distinct differences in AEM as a Cloud Service compared to AEM 6.5.

Something we love about the cloud-native version of AEM Assets is its fast asset upload speeds. It also creates new file renditions and reads the metadata of those files much faster.

It’s also important to note that some on-premise AEM Assets features have been deprecated for the cloud-native version, such as retrieving images from a zip file archive. Some features will also behave differently in AEM Assets as a Cloud Service, like for example, duplicate asset detection.

Benefits of the Cloud-Native AEM

Marketing, content, and IT experts alike have been buzzing about cloud-native migrations for the last few years. And there’s no doubt that the cloud is quickly becoming the way of the future.

But let’s be real—migrating to the cloud from on-premise software is complicated. Many professionals want to be sure the long-term benefits of migrating far outweigh the time and cost it takes to get there. We’ll just say…the benefits do speak for themselves.

Automatic updates

To give you a little context on why automatic updates are so important, AEM 6.5 needs to be updated manually to new software versions. And, oftentimes, doing so is a tremendous chore.

Naturally, this means that internal teams need to make code adjustments to be ready for a smooth update each time. Not only that, but they’d need to back up the previous version of the software so that they could revert to it if anything went wrong.

With AEM as a Cloud Service, version updates are continual and automatic, and can run in the background. You’ll never experience downtime when getting an up-to-date version of the software.

And with AEMaaCS busy updating itself stress-free, your IT team can focus on more important tasks at hand.


As we touched on a bit earlier, AEM as a Cloud Service is no longer hindered by the boundaries of a rigid AEM infrastructure.

As your authoring and publishing demands ramp up, AEMaaCS will expand its capacity to quickly process your requests. Likewise, when demand calms down again, AEMaaCS will automatically reduce capacity, too.

This is a huge difference from on-premise AEM 6.5, which has a rigid infrastructure with a set capacity based on your purchased license. It’s also different from AEM Managed Services, which requires you to buy expansions to your processing capability à la carte.

Aemaacs autoscaling 1
Comparison table AEM 6.5 vs. AEM Managed Services vs. AEM Cloud Service

Resilience and reliability

Site downtime is something no one wants to deal with. Thankfully, AEM as a Cloud Service ensures that your site will be available 99.9% of the time. Even when AEM updates or critical fixes are going on in the background, you’ll experience no interruptions.

Increased security

It might be tempting to assume that software native to the cloud is less secure than one you can keep under lock and key on your physical devices. The opposite is true—the cloud-nativity of AEM drastically tightens security.

AEM as a Cloud Service automates continuous security checks to stay ahead of potential threats. It also fully encrypts data as it’s processed within the cloud and has rigorous user authentication measures in place, among other perks.

Moreover, the software is now compliant with strict security regulations, such as HIPAA, FedRAMP, and FERPA. Even the most sensitive of data submitted through AEM Forms or AEM Screens remains secure.


The unlimited load processing capacity of AEMaaCS also means that the software won’t slow down no matter how much you upload or change at once.

Does AEM as a Cloud Service Fit Your Company?

It might surprise you to know that we’re fully confident in saying yes, AEM as a Cloud Service is an excellent fit in the majority of cases. There aren’t many reasons which would make migration impossible.

It’s worth noting that in the past, AEM as a Cloud Service was not certified by HIPAA, FedRAMP, or FERPA. At that time, it couldn’t be recommended for companies beholden to these regulations.

However, more recently, AEM as a Cloud Service has become HIPAA, FedRAMP, and FERPA compliant. This change also enabled AEM Forms and AEM Screens to function compliantly as cloud services.

That said, there are a rare few cases where AEM as a Cloud Service wouldn’t work for your company:

  • When you’re required to have guaranteed uptime greater than 99.9%.
  • When you’re in a highly regulated industry that must adhere to security guidelines that AEMaaCS is not yet certified for.

Overall, the benefits of migrating to a cloud-native AEM are significant, and the instances in which cloud migration couldn’t happen are rare. Because of these two things, we recommend AEM as a Cloud Service for most companies.

Migration to AEM as a Cloud Service

We can confidently say that the AEM cloud service will simplify an incredible amount of your day-to-day AEM computing needs. In the long run, it’ll lessen your workload tremendously and cut maintenance costs.

But the process of migration to the cloud itself isn’t necessarily simple.

To ensure that you maintain existing infrastructures and that migration happens as smoothly as possible, you need careful planning. Typically, cloud migration occurs in a set series of four steps. These steps could happen in an average of 3 months or so, depending on your expected migration difficulty.

Step 1: The readiness phase

In this phase, you’ll first need to familiarize yourself with cloud architecture changes compared to your current version. You’ll also need to make note of features that have been deprecated in the cloud service.

Then, you’ll need to do a readiness check on your existing version of AEM. This will help identify ways in which your version is and isn’t compatible with the cloud service.

The quickest way to run this check is to use Adobe’s Best Practice Analyzer. You can download a detailed report of your cloud readiness. This handy document will point you toward incompatibility issues you’ll need to fix before you can migrate.

Depending on the level of difficulty of your migration, you’ll then need to build a right-sized team to handle the migration process. It’s also important for you to establish the KPIs you want this migration to focus on.

Step 2: The implementation phase

Once you’ve done the hard work of identifying where your code is incompatible and built your migration teams, you’re ready to start implementing. This phase is complex because of the many steps involved in proper migration. For our purposes, we’ll cover it at a high level.

You’ll want to make sure you use Adobe’s provided migration products for optimal performance. For example, to begin migrating content from your version of AEM to your new AEM cloud environment, you’d be using the Adobe Content Transfer Tool.

Getting all of your content migrated to the cloud is a multi-step, collaborative process that happens over time, not in an instant. It’s important to keep that in mind as you move forward.

After your content has been migrated, you’ll then need to get to work refactoring your code. In other words, you’ll need to change it to be compatible with the cloud service in areas where you discovered issues.

The last step is to prepare for your official go-live! You’ll need to do a detailed cleanup of your content, condensing it as needed. You’ll also want to establish your migration plan and set up your migration tracker.

Step 3: The go-live phase

Now, you’re ready to start going live with your migrations. This step is also highly technical and requires you to have a team with the knowledge set required to handle this:

  • Initial product migration. This consists of validation of content, stopping content movement during migration, and taking time recordings of the process.
  • Start launching incremental top-ups. This is the migration of any content added after the initial migration.
  • Establish the amount of time you’ll have to freeze all new content creation for the migration and make all relevant teams aware.
  • Reference the go-live checklist to ensure you haven’t missed any vital action items. With all this taken care of, and all code and content officially compatible, you’re now ready to go live with your cloud migration.

Step 4: The post-go-live phase

Following the go-live, careful monitoring of the AEM cloud service is essential to ensure it continues to perform as expected, without errors.

Adobe provides a highly-effective group of applications to help you manage the health of AEMaaCS. You can use them to debug, troubleshoot, and address any issues you might face down the line.

Among these applications are Adobe Developer Console, CRXDE Lite, and AEM Cloud Manager.

Challenges to expect

Unsurprisingly, the main challenge associated with AEMaaCS migration is the heavy preparation needed to reach compatibility.

In some cases, an in-house team assigned to perform migration might be a fully capable solution for your needs. It’ll certainly help the process if they’re generally familiar with cloud migration.

In other cases, your in-house team might be not familiar with cloud migration in the AEM environment. This could lead to missed steps or difficulty solving issues along the way due to a natural learn-as-you-go process.

Inevitably, for high-velocity companies with large content production loads, it could make more sense to find a team with specific experience migrating to AEMaaCS.

At Axamit, our migration experts know what to look out for at every step of the process. What’s more, they’ve seen a lot of errors, issues, and technicalities across cloud migration projects, and already know how to respond efficiently—thus minimizing downtime and accelerating your migration journey overall.


Most large companies tend to outgrow AEM as an on-premise solution as the rising costs to maintain the infrastructure exceed the value gained from using it.

Thankfully, technologies across industries are preparing for a future in the cloud, and AEM is no exception.

By now, you should have a solid idea of what Adobe Experience Cloud Products are, and how AEM as a Cloud Service cuts the resources spent on infrastructure maintenance. You should also be familiar with how AEMaaCS instantly adapts to the growing needs of almost any company.

However, we’ve also brought to light some obstacles with implementing AEMaaCS—namely, that migration to the cloud from other versions of AEM can be an extreme technical challenge. You’ll need to ensure your team is fully capable of this migration, so you experience minimal downtime and issues in the process.

Contact UsThat said, if AEM cloud migration sounds like your company’s way forward, but migration isn’t something you feel prepared to handle, we’re here to help! Let’s talk about your company’s potential migration timeline with Axamit on your side.

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