Beware of ‘Cloud Washing’ When Evaluating Digital Experience Platforms

Acquia was born and bred as a cloud-based digital experience platform provider. For nine years, our focus has been cloud-first, cloud-only.

Definitions matter, especially when you’re a digital or IT leader prepared to make a big investment in a digital experience platform. For many buyers, confusion enters the picture when vendors come to the table with “marketing clouds,” but provide misleading or vague definitions of how their technology is deployed.

Here’s where definitions matter. Too many vendors are still passing off their products as cloud-first solutions, offered as a service. In effect, they’re ‘cloud-washing.’ They are painting over the reality that their WCM and related software is still being deployed on site, or on a traditional hosting environment, like Rackspace or another, perhaps with a sheen of “managed hosting” assistance thrown in for good measure.

The reality is that many vendors like Adobe and Sitecore have been falling short when it comes to building and providing enterprises a true cloud platform for WCM and digital experience.

It’s clear from independent analysts that when it comes to cloud capabilities, a scalable PaaS critical in a modern, digital experience platform. In the report, The Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2017, Forrester Research evaluated the cloud offerings of the 15 most significant WCM vendors. Acquia received a 4 out of 5 in the cloud criterion. Forrester’s citation policy doesn’t allow us to cite other vendors’ scores here, but you can see for yourself by downloading the report.

Of Acquia, Forrester said, in part:

Acquia cloud by itself is a good fit for organizations making a conscious bet on Drupal and cloud and that need a partner with the right support and SLAs to match global, enterprise needs.” (The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2017, by Mark Grannan, January 24, 2017)

Acquia was born and bred as a cloud-based digital experience platform provider. For nine years, our focus has been cloud-first, cloud-only. We saw long ago that two major waves in enterprise WCM and digital experience were approaching:

  1. The need for scalable and secure cloud-based platform as a service,
  2. The need for agility and innovation provided most effectively by open source software.


We’ve been helping some of the most ambitious brands, digital agencies and systems integrators to build today and for the future on our cloud platform: NASDAQ, Johnson & Johnson, BBC, Warner Music Group, City of Los Angeles and others.

Their common understanding: there’s been a dramatic shift to acquire technology that provides developers of digital experiences the speed, agility, and flexibility to build and deliver any experience to support the customer journey - factors a true, cloud platform-as-a-service are best architected to provide. Their possibilities are limited only by their ambitions: web, mobile, social, IoT, digital signage - everything that connects and unifies the customer journey.

Acquia customers, which include enterprise IT, digital technology and marketing leaders in thousands of organizations worldwide, have recognized the differences. The advantages are many: scalable cloud architecture for one site, or hundreds or thousands of sites on our platform (like SABMiller and Pfizer); global compliance standards (such as GDPR, FedRAMP and HIPAA) for digital experience platforms in government and regulated industries; security practices that help mitigate threats as well as address attacks; capabilities to apply governance standards across hundreds or thousands of sites; and integrated tools for rapid application development.

To reiterate; definitions matter. You can’t proclaim you are “cloud first” if you aren’t truly a cloud platform. What’s under the hood of your platform matters. Industry experts validate this. Acquia customers have understood it for years. And, savvy buyers of technology platforms are making the point loud and clear as they make their decisions, in effect telling vendors: Own up to what you’re really offering or get off the cloud bandwagon.

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