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Tim Benniks - The Modern DXP - JSWORLD Conference 2021


Tim Benniks - The Modern DXP - JSWORLD Conference 2021 How JAMstack will change the world.
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Today we will talk about how Gemstack will change the world of the digital experience platforms. And, you know, a DXP or or a digital experience platform sounds really enterprisey, and you know what it is. But I am here to tell you that every website actually has a DXP, and we will jump into what a DXP is in a SEC. And also why Jam stack and the fact that it's originless is changing the game for this. So before we dive in, let's talk a bit about who I am, a bit of an introduction of why I feel like I can talk about this stuff to you. Right. So my name is Tim, as I said, Tim Manic. And this is me on Twitter here or here, depending on how I edit this. And I work at Uniform, where I am a developer advocate. Later on in the talk, I will talk about what Uniform is and how it helps the subject of this talk, which is Jamstack and the modern digital experience platform. I am also representing Cloudinary and Next in their ambassador programs. And I've worked with these companies all the time for years, and they're awesome. So I'm proud to actually represent them. I am also a conference speaker, and this is actually a few years Amsterdam when we're still allowed to go places. Right. I spoke on a bunch of years and this was just an awesome conference. So I also do YouTube. So if you are watching this video on YouTube, potentially, click subscribe if you want, you don't have to, but we'll be cool. All right. So why me? Why do I get to talk about this stuff? Other than that, I have experience speaking in conferences. Well, I used to work as a director of web development at FallTech and also as a web developer at AKQA, who are two huge agencies, and they're doing Advertisement. But they're also building ecommerce platforms from modern tech to old school tech to a whole bunch. I have worked within these companies for clients like this. And this is not here to Gloat, but it's kind of just to show you that I have experience with brands who are on huge Gill who do enterprise software stuff but need modern stacks. Right. Nike needs to be modern. It needs to work faster. And all of those brands have this. And I've been in the trenches for years working with these companies to actually get to where you can get now much easier. And that's also what this talk is about. So now let's actually dive in. Are you ready to talk about Jamstack? I am let's talk about what a digital experience platform actually is. Dxps have been around for a while, and they are kind of stuffy enterprisey things that marketers love to talk about. Right. And it's kind of a thing you see on LinkedIn and so kind of what they do is they combine multiple tools and services to actually create a platform. And so whatever this DXP consists of is actually usually chosen by marketers. So they like things like the following they like, of course, content management, but also having newsletter, subscriptions and services behind that. Right. So digital asset management, videos, campaigns, things like that personalization, a B testing, CRM, stuff, analytics. So you kind of see what those things are, right. And this kind of is what DXP is. It's not just your website or your CMS. The DXP provides extra context to your whole platform, basically. So your end user is part of your DXP, but your content editor is also one or your marketer or your analytics person or your tester. The DXP is a bit bigger and generally one big system controls your whole DXP. So think about Aquia with Drupal or think about Sitecore or Adobe AEM. And I know there's a whole bunch of developers watching now that are amazing front endeavors, but they are kind of unhappy in their side core system or in their Adobe system because they cannot go fully free, because this is also part of this talk. Originally, the DSP is controlled by this one big thing or like a WordPress. And there's, of course, different scopes to it. Right. Because WordPress is a lot less than what let's say Adobe AEM does. But still, they're big systems. They're one offs. And so we call this the best of suite. And this is kind of one of the most tacky pictures I could find of this lovely gentleman. Anyways, now let's explore a little bit of the drawbacks of this traditional DXP setup, where one big suite of tools from one company basically deals with all of it for you. Right. So I'm just looking at this picture of how I don't know what the hell I'm looking at like, why is he holding a dollar? Why is he not playing? Why is Slash actually mid solo anyways, let's continue. So the first big drawback of this traditional DXP is that they're all based on an origin. Right. This origin is your content delivery server, and this server has a bunch of extra services on top, where all the other things happen, like the AB testing and the front end and databases. And because it's one big chunk of software that's always on. If you just want to, iterate on one part. It's pretty challenging, right. Because does that one part influence a lot of other things? Or is it maybe dependent on other things and you cannot just change it? And of course, you can always change everything. If you take side Corps, I know for a fact you can change out every bit. It just costs a lot of effort, time and money. Right. And so if you deploy something, you tend to always deploy everything, the whole suite. And, of course, that's kind of scary. But because it's so big, it takes very long. It's just challenging stuff that's no need. I've had discussions with people that say, yeah, our back end engineers spend two days on the deploy because everything needs to be in place. And then we just, like, put the package on the system and then hope works. Like I said, it's always on. And this just costs money and energy, because what if you don't use your wishlist much? Wouldn't it be nice if that was just off and these services wouldn't actually be always on and operating? It's so much nicer if it's not one big chunk of software. And if you want to scale, let's say that wishlist, because there are so many people around Christmas time that actually use your wish list, you kind of have to scale all the servers with all the software because it's again, one chunk. And if you want to replace one part, one part, it's very doable. I've done this my whole career. It's just a lot of effort. And why does it have to be so hard? So one of the bigger ones. And I know a lot of front end developers watching this talk will fill this one. There's the Fender lock in, and you kind of have to be inside whatever that Fender chose for you to use and then just use that, because if the Fender decides to update something and you said, okay, let's put the patch of the Fender, like the version two and everything dies because you didn't follow what the Fender told you to do. You are kind of screwed, because then you have to tell your client, I need four weeks to fix this website. Now you have less choice. And of course, this is a fun one. You have a bunch of professional services and certification stuff where basically people that know the system really well cost you $2,000 a day and come and help you because it's so complex. And because it's so complex, you can also offer certification and make a bunch of money as a vendor. Personally, I don't like this marketing approach or this approach of how to make money. A system shouldn't be that crazy complex, right? It shouldn't be one big spaghetti of crazy. You kind of want to do that in a different way where you don't need a certification because you're just a good front and deaf. So why do I need certification for a certain tool? I just work with front end technology. I'm a bit on edge about that part. And then, of course, if the Fender decides to go a certain direction with their cloud offering or with their technology, you have to follow. If you don't follow, you don't get updates. Right? So all these things together kind of go to this. It's expensive. It takes time. And a lot of clients don't have this kind of money. And if they do, wouldn't you love for these clients to actually focus on the end user experience and do really meaningful websites? I guess you can almost not say no to that right. So in short, marketers love these DXP because they get all the super cool tools that they can use in the system. But developers kind of hate it because those tools are not to be used the way developers want to use them. You have to follow a certain structure to do so. And marketers, of course, don't have that drawback. They just get the product. And it's like, awesome. So I'm not here to talk down on marketers. It's just there's these different approaches to a system. Right. But the future will look very different. You can actually also build these DSPs in a completely different way. And that's what this talk is about and how we can allow you to do that. Right. So you can actually compose this DXP from different products that are called Best of Breed. So a Best of Breed product is the opposite of a Best of Suite product. Like a Best of Suite is a suite of tools from one offering or one vendor. This is your thing. And then you have Best of Breed, which are smaller chunks, generally that are highly specialized in one part. And then you have to compose multiple small parts to become that, then become one bigger group of stuff that becomes your platform. Right. So if you do this, developers will really love that because those things are separate. They need to be orchestrated. But they are so good at what they do that you can just use them as a surface and you can build your own, let's say, front end or back end, and then just combine these things. You have much more freedom to choose your tech stack, but also to choose which Best of Breed surface fits your brand most. And especially if you don't want one, you just drop it. And that works because it's all composed together from smaller chunks. Right. And you know what? The marketing stuff actually gets better. But we'll talk about that in a SEC. So to really try to explain what the difference is between the Best of Breed and the Best of Sweet, I came up with this sandwich analogy, and you know what? I put it on Twitter, and it actually worked. A lot of my peers actually answered with stuff that I was like, oh, this analogy can go a long way, and it actually works. So I'm going to try this on you and please, in the chat, tell me, did it convince you or not? And do you now have a good understanding of what the difference is between Best of Breed Systems and Best of Sweet systems? Oh, yeah. This is Joey with his favorite sandwich, giving it to his friend, but actually not anyways, fun context. So in my opinion, what I'm thinking I'm going to tell you is that Best of Sweet is a sandwich that is pre packed, created by the Baker or the bakery for you. Exactly. They know what you like. It is a complete sandwich, and you're happy with it. Right. And then the Best of Breed is actually a decomposed sandwich where you can choose the ingredients that go on. But you better be good at what you choose, because if you put the wrong ingredient on, that's a disgusting sandwich. Let's talk about best of Sweet in the sandwich realm first. So at a bakery, you get a complete sandwich. It's design is created for you by the bakery. Right. So there's not that much thinking required because the bakery is awesome and just generally works for most people. If you work in Paris, like where I work, I go outside, I go to a bakery, I get a sandwich, and it's awesome. And it is 95% of the times. That is true. Right. So you have basically one contract with that Baker. If you go every day, if the sandwich sucks or makes you sick, you just go back to the bakery and say, hey, this sandwich that sucked, and I can point the finger to that Baker and say, I either don't go back to you or you fix a sandwich for next time. It's a very easy connection. And so when the tent, which changes in the future, it's kind of fun, right. Because you chose that Baker, you trust the guy. And if the Cemetery changes, it's fine. The bakery probably knows what's good for you. This is their whole business. And so this is kind of how the best of sweet software systems work. And bakeries that is, let's now talk about Best of Breed with a deconstructed sandwich. Or, as I like to call from now on, the best of bread. Basically, what this thing does is that you go to different shops to create your own sandwich. So you are in charge of the taste and makeup of that sandwich yourself. If one ingredient is out of stock, you kind of have to deal with that. How do you change the ingredients the rest so that you don't miss something? How do you orchestrate things or how do you Cook your own stuff? Right. So you better be a good chef, like I said before, because otherwise, if you don't really know what you're doing, all your future sandwiches are going to be pretty miserable. It's not going to be a fun time. Right? So the thing is, though, if you did do it yourself and you buy your own stuff, you can really replace the cheese at any time you want. And if you need more cheese, you just find the vendor that gives you the cheese in bulk. Right now, I'm in the countryside. I'm in an old house and there's cows all around me. I can just go to one of these farms and say, Give me more cheese. And it's only one farm I have to go to, and it's done. That's pretty cool, right. I just have to know that that cheese is good and also judge if it's good cheese or not. And so if it's around Christmas time and I still don't have enough cheese, we can actually replace it with something else. Or maybe I don't want the cheese anymore. And I want Fuego. This is easy. You just change it up right at that time you find another farm, you get some foie Gras, you put it in. So between those two, you kind of have to choose your sandwich. What is for you? And generally the traditional DXB is the sandwich from the bakery, and the new modern DXB is actually the deconstructed sandwich. So before I go on, let's Marvel at how bad this image is. The mustache, the Apple watch before it existed, the dollar sign. It's like, dude, what's up with this anyways? I think now that we talked about all these differences, let's just have a look at how you can actually compose your DXP with using these best of Breed technologies, so I can show you what those best of breed technologies are, because we didn't really talk about that just yet. So this is a simplified version of what I think a digital experience platform could look like. And of course, if you have much more commerce related things, it would be even bigger. You have stockkeeping tax calculation. There's a lot more stuff. So let's talk about a composed one. My CDN could be Cloudflare. My build and CI stack could be Azure pipelines. I could use Lambda functions as APIs that I make myself my own microservices. I could use Next JS in Gemstech mode for my front end. I can use FICMA or Sapling or something like that for the design and build tools. I use Edge workers in Cloudflare to actually do my server site generation of my Gemstack when I need it, when something changes, I can use Contentful as a CMS. I can use Uniform for personalisation. We'll talk about that later. You can use a digital asset management like Cloudinary. You can use user data from Gigi and Plausible for analytics, and maybe some API platforms like Commerce Tools for Ecommerce fit in there as well. So as you can see, there is no origin here. All these services are on their own, right? So you just connect them together and they all have their own origin and deal with whatever they have to do. But you sign an SLA so they have uptime and it works. So this is how I feel like you have the traditional DXB, which is Elon, and then we have to compose DXP where this is Elon, probably 2018. I don't know. He looks kind of badass or he tries to be. Anyways, there's a pretty big difference, right? So I would say the future is doing this DXP with the Gemstack without the origin, without the slowness everything on the edge, connecting the edge up and making sure that Best of Breed software actually does their job the best and the developer and the architect chose how that works. Complete freedom, complete transparency. Right. So developers are really finally able to choose the stack that they want. And that's what makes this so cool. Now let's talk a bit about uniform. And why does all this whole talk and Uniform fit together? Because I haven't actually told you just yet. So Uniform kind of exists to connect the world of these marketers with their DSPs and their tools with developers and their tool chain. Right. Because you always have this battle between the developer wants some idealistic thing on the cloud with microservices and a static front end with React, which is really awesome, but it doesn't fit with the tool chain that the marketers actually are used to and always work with. And Uniform exists to connect those two worlds. And that's why I love this startup, because I have worked in those worlds. I always worked with enterprise software. I worked at ad agencies where we had to build with that software. But I'm also front endeavor. In my whole career, I've been fighting with those systems to get it to have a modern front end. So the end user had the best experience. And now these guys bottled that effort up into a product that helps you to orchestrate all of this with this, which is pretty cool in my opinion, with this new modern gemstech approach for DXP, you don't have to replatform every five years. I had Adobe for five years, but now the headless thing, I don't like it, but they did. It doesn't work. So now I'm just going to go to Episurf and do the same thing. And in five years I'm going to go to Side Core if it still exists at that time. Right. And so now when you have this composed platform, you can just change the tools that you need at the time that you need them. You don't have to replatform the whole thing. And Uniform helps you to orchestrate that this is what they say on the website. This is my first day. I'm going to learn all of this, right. But basically Uniform provides painkillers for this modern DXP, like how to deal with the things that are hard because orchestrating is actually hard. Right? How do you know if a service doesn't work? Will my website fail if I don't have that dependency or how do I scale it? How does it work with the cloud with finance with all the programs, like how deployment CI. It's complex to Orchestrate and Uniform created a really cool interface to actually make this work. So basically on top of that, which is one of my favorite things we always like personalization. If you go to a conference and you buy a ticket, but you haven't paid yet. But you go away from the website, you come back. Wouldn't it be cool if the header of the website said, hey, you have that thing in your basket from last time. Do you want to buy it now. Or maybe this conference has different tracks. Marketing tracks, tech tracks. And I don't know, let's keep it in marketing and tech. Right. And then you click on the tech track. You want to see that, and then you go back to the homepage. Now. Suddenly the home page actually reflects the fact that you are interested in technology and shows you different tracks of what different videos, things like that, this stuff we've always wanted it, and it is possible with traditional Dxbs. It's just really hard to do. And so you have all these extra contexts in a DXP. Right. Where you have a B testing, you have personalization, you have analytics based on that stuff. You have all these extra things, and then Uniform is going to jump on the train of all those contexts and give you the best tools to help you to do it. And so they came up with personalization, either on Hydration time in your Jam stack or with Edge based workers. So you don't need JavaScript to see your personalized content. And they have integrated this with a whole bunch of headless CMS's. And it's just really, really cool to see and what they have on top, which is kind of how they started, which is fun for me to see. Is there's all these enterprise systems out there and people want to change to the new technology? But it's really hard because you have a long time running contract and that long contract, you cannot just change it. You have to talk to all the stakeholders. It's politics, political, there's money involved. And so what Uniform did is they made a system based on Next. Yes. But now also with Next, where they kind of in the build Gemstockify, the old pages and then surf it through Next on the CDN as Aesthetic website. And this is not a talk on how that is done, but it's really genius how they figure that out because they also made sure like, let's say you did it with React, right. You grab your old pages, it's just put in as HTML with your old Jquery stuff. But there's this one component that you want to do with React. You can actually build that. And then next JS that they use to show you the Gemstech stuff will just grab that React component and just render it as React. But then the rest is still the old stuff. And so you have a safe path to the future with a really cool way to get all the developers on board and show the differences. And if you can then also do all these Edge worker stuff and personalization and super performance. And you know what? No security testing because it's Jam stack. It's a pretty easy sell to at one point, just move everything to Jamstack and build your DXP without an origin. Right. So they also connect to a whole bunch of other services like Cloudflare, whatever they are the glue between all these services like they help orchestrate. And you know what? That was it. I want to thank you for watching and all this way. We're now 22 minutes in so that's pretty long. Please feel free. You to follow me on Twitter or subscribe to me on YouTube and also find uniform on Twitter. I'll put that in the description. And, yeah, thanks for watching. I'll see you next time. Cheers.