5 AEM Multi Site Manager (MSM) Features for Localization Success
Here’s a wild guess: Your current content management system only effectively does 30% of the things you need it to do.
As businesses become more complex and start thinking about moves like globalization, they need a CMS that keeps up and keeps things simple. The best tool for the job? Adobe Experience Manager’s Multi-Site Manager (AEM MSM).
Maybe you’ve heard of it, or maybe you haven’t—either way, we’re here to shed some light on the game-changing features and best practices behind the AEM Multi-Site Manager.
What is Multi Site Manager Used For?
Multi Site Manager in AEM is a versatile tool designed to help companies easily manage content and pages across multiple websites. If managing many sites feels like a day-to-day uphill battle for consistency, MSM can effectively help you level that hill.
Some common circumstances in which businesses typically implement MSM are:
- Regional or multi-national site rollouts with the same language content.
- Global site rollouts with content in multiple languages.
- Rollouts of sites that need many versions with small changes to details.
- Rollouts of regional sites that need customization per branch.
In any of these situations, MSM will help you reuse your content across sites on a grand scale, ensuring consistency across each site that you manage.
Multi-site management in AEM enables you to make all or part of each site’s content automatically synchronizable to the source content when it changes.
Now that you’re more familiar with a few use cases for MSM, let’s jump into the juicy details on some of the features you can leverage within the platform.
Powerful Multi-Site Manager Features for Marketers
Every CMS has its use cases, and your current CMS might even promise to solve the same localization issues that AEM’s MSM does. The real kicker is: Do its features deliver, even as your needs grow?
MSM in AEM hosts an extremely powerful suite of features that give companies room to grow and diversify sites…without further complicating their workload as time goes on. Let’s take a look.
Blueprints of existing sites
Multi site manager allows you to easily make a blueprint of an existing source site, which you can then use to create as many copies as you need.
Creating a blueprint configuration is as simple as selecting the source site you want to use to map out your blueprint, giving it a title, and clicking Create.
Many of the site or page copies you’re likely to make in MSM will be AEM live copies. To put it simply, these are mirror images of a site or page that can be live synced to the source content.
A live copy in AEM can either reference a previously established blueprint configuration, a page within a blueprint configuration, or a page with no blueprint association.
Rollout actions and rollout configurations
A rollout action is a manual way of pushing changes from a blueprint to all or some of its live copies. You simply designate which live copies you want your rollout action to affect, and when it should take place (now or later).
Rollout configurations, on the other hand, are prompted by certain rollout triggers to sync your live copies to their source automatically.
Your rollout configurations can be triggered by changes like modification, activation, deactivation, or manual rollout of the blueprint source.
When your rollout triggers have occurred, your rollout configuration might prompt creation, deletion, or updates within the live copies that are affected, depending on the configuration you’ve chosen.
MSM hosts a variety of pre-set rollout configurations, but if you’ve got something really specific in mind, you can also create custom configs.
Language masters, language copies, and translation jobs
Going global is a huge lift for any company, but it’s necessary to rapidly expand profitability and growth. With globalization comes the daunting challenge of creating new country sites in the dominant language(s) spoken there.
Thankfully, MSM in AEM 6.5 also streamlines this complex process. To start, MSM enables you to make language masters, which are blueprints of your site in each different language you need.
You can easily create new language masters by making a language copy of an existing language master. For example, if you already have an English language master, you can create a Spanish language copy.
When you create a language copy, you will have the option to run a translation job to convert the content on your language copy to the new desired language. AEM also includes a nifty default translation service that you can use to quickly translate language copies.
Once your language copies are properly translated, they can then be used to create new live country sites.
Minimize live copy load
Realistically, just because you can create as many live copies as you want…doesn’t mean you should.
MSM does best when you keep your number of live copies tight, and when the majority of those live copies are copies of entire site structures, not pages or subpages.
When you overburden your site with live copies, it can:
- Compromise the reliability and performance of your site overall.
- Complicate the process of referencing parent pages.
- Make it difficult to keep track of rollout configurations across the board.
So, a good rule of thumb is: Keep it as simple as possible!
Test before going live
Most of us wouldn’t launch an original site without rigorously testing it to ensure the pages and all of their elements work (and flow) as intended.
So, just make sure that you’re applying this same best practice to your live copies and language copies in MSM. It’s best never to assume that your source will produce a perfectly functioning copy without checking it.
Minimize local content governance
Content governance in MSM defines which users have the authority to do what. You’ll want to make sure that you specifically limit which local content producers are allowed to grant other local users access to change content and live copies.
Keep your content producers with these privileges few, and ensure that those users clearly communicate with each other about changes being made within your MSM structure.
Keep customization low
Everyone loves the ability to have near-limitless site customization options, and MSM does give you that power. But the more you customize your site, the harder it is to upgrade and change, and the less reliable it is.
To make things easier on yourself when you’re upgrading your site in the future and reduce the potential for performance dips, make sure you enforce a reasonable stopping point for customization.
Prepare for globalization first
This point might seem straightforward, but trust us—it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in how simple MSM makes globalizing a site and forget to prep before doing so. Before you globalize, you’ll need to make sure of a few things:
- You’re aware of (and abiding by) the laws and regulations of each county you want to host your global sites in.
- You’ve done your research and know which language(s) each country site will need.
- You’ve ensured that your site is optimized for globalization—meaning your structure is easily adaptable, and not overcomplicated.
AEM MSM Challenges and Considerations
We know it’s not realistic to assume everything about MSM and AEM localization is sunshine and rainbows. Truth is, even though AEM localization tools make site expansion simpler, it still comes with a few challenges.
First, the implementation, integration, and training of users for AEM is not necessarily an easy lift. It can be confusing and daunting to attempt without a dedicated implementation team, even with Adobe’s extensive documentation.
Second, MSM can make it extremely easy to get “lost in the sauce” with your site’s customization. As we mentioned earlier, it’s best to keep things simple. Sites and pages you create in MSM can quickly become bulky, messy, and harmful to your site’s performance if you’re not careful.
That said, if you have a clear implementation plan, and run a tight ship in terms of live copies, AEM should be a smooth, ever-evolving long-term solution for your localization needs.
Simplified multi-site management is a cornerstone of successful marketing. When managing multiple sites becomes cumbersome and complicated, you’ll need a powerful all-in-one solution like Adobe’s AEM Multi Site Manager to maintain your site’s consistency for all markets.
So, we’ve uncovered the reasons why you need AEM and Multi Site Manager, including the features and benefits guaranteed to make content delivery a cinch. But we get it—even if AEM’s Multi Site Manager sounds like your content management dream, migrating to it can pose a huge roadblock.
Luckily, at Axamit, that’s what we do best. We fully support you at every step, handling all implementation, integration, migration, and upgrades of AEM so that it’s ready to go when you are. Let’s chat about your AEM migration goals!