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Navigating the Future with Sitecore Experience Edge

Maximize performance with a tool designed to separate content management from content delivery.

Over the last few years, a lot has changed in the digital experience management landscape in general, and specifically within Sitecore. We are collectively embracing an agile new technical space where the tools available to us are being refined at a pace far beyond anything we’ve ever experienced before. This brings unique opportunities, as well as unique challenges, to us. In this article, we will introduce a tool designed to maximize these opportunities while providing a level of stability that is sorely needed in this ever-expanding space.

Sitecore Experience Edge is the content repository that sits between your content management infrastructure and your public website experience. In traditional monolithic Sitecore implementations, content is moved (“published”) from one SQL database to another, traditionally from “master” to “web.” This underlying publishing mechanism is the foundation that allows content editors to draft content and publish it when ready. But realistically, SQL databases are not the ideal storage medium for content, and this layer introduces potential problems in performance, scalability and security. Experience Edge represents a better way for the modern platform.

So, what exactly is it? It is a high-performance content delivery platform designed from the ground up for one explicit mission: to place your content in an easily digestible format on the edge network (CDN) to allow for fast, secure, native access. It eliminates the traditional Content Delivery (CD) servers in your Sitecore topology, which reduces complexities, security risks and performance bottlenecks. Below, we will break down exactly how it accomplishes each of these objectives.

Experience Edge for Experience Manager (XM) is an API-based service from Sitecore that gives you globally replicated, scalable access to your Sitecore Experience Platform items, layout and media. You can use the standard publish tools in XM, but instead of rendering content from a self-hosted content delivery environment, Experience Edge provides you a Sitecore-hosted GraphQL API. You can build your solution in any language and pull the content you need to power it with GraphQL.


So, what exactly is it? Sitecore Experience Edge is a high-performance content delivery platform designed from the ground up for one explicit mission: to place your content in an easily digestible format on the edge network (CDN) to allow for fast, secure, native access. It eliminates the traditional content delivery (CD) servers in your Sitecore topology, which reduces complexities, security risks and performance bottlenecks. Below, we will break down exactly how it accomplishes each of these objectives.

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As demonstrated in the diagram above, the primary focus of the Experience Edge delivery platform is to separate the content management (CM) role from the delivery of the services that ultimately provide content delivery services to the client browser.  Let's review the top four reasons why this is highly advantageous in a modern headless implementation:



Performance, Scalability and Reliability

If there is one overarching theme in the broad movement towards headless architectures, it is to achieve incredible levels of performance and scalability within highly flexible systems. In the past, we’ve had to choose significant trade-offs between high scalability and excellent editor experiences, rarely accommodating both without overwhelming infrastructure complexities and costs.

The premise of the traditional monolithic architecture of CMS platforms, including Sitecore, is that the system must serve two very different purposes. It must be very good at cataloging versions of content, checking permissions, providing intuitive editing tools, etc. This serves your content editor community very well, which is important. But that same dataset and tooling ultimately need to provide the end-user content as well. The services of these two ends can often be at odds.

The entire premise behind Experience Edge eliminates the need to decide between these priorities. By introducing a unique intermediary layer that takes advantage of the extreme delivery performance and scalability of modern CDN networks, your content assets are sitting on high-performance edge networks and are ready to be consumed by your frontend, apps and other platforms.

So, how big of a game changer is this? Well, I previously provided an extreme demo of how well this premise works on AgencyQ’s own site to make the point. Before we were on Sitecore XM Cloud as our CMS backend, we used XM hosted in Azure instances. I turned off the Azure services, without notice or planning. Due to this complete separation of concerns, the public-facing web properties did not experience a single second of downtime.

Uncompromised Security

AgencyQ specializes in providing highly secure content solutions to organizations with complex security and regulatory needs. So, it can frequently be frustrating to us when we have to make undesirable compromises in the infrastructure design to perform the basic premise of the digital experience platform: deliver content to end users. This tends to go back to the same premise that we dealt with in the performance section, having one system serve two very different purposes can be far from ideal.

In a traditional model, your content databases are primarily designed to provide a great editor experience but are also pressed into service through CD servers to provide the end-user delivery as well. This means that SQL services, web apps, SOLR indexes and other infrastructure elements are all sitting within the network infrastructure with the intent of allowing public access. While there are various tactics that can be put in place to mitigate these risks, the simple fact is that there is an unnecessarily large surface area to be potentially exploited.

Experience Edge solves this problem by being a content delivery layer that exists OUTSIDE of your network boundaries on the edge CDN networks. It only contains published, non-sensitive data that has been pushed to the edge by your content management infrastructure in accordance with your governance policies. Since it has no connections to your internal infrastructure, there is no path back to be exploited. This highly secure separation of concerns is one way that AgencyQ is able to provide highly secure content delivery solutions to some of the most trusted organizations in the world.

Optimizing Total Cost of Ownership

The reality is that the resources needed to provide the classic monolith content delivery capabilities are resource intensive. It requires an extensive amount of assets that can be quite expensive to operate, secure and maintain. In a typical Azure-based installation, these include, but are not limited to, some of the following resources:

  • Geo-redundant Azure SQL instances for the “web” database
  • A cluster of at least three high-performance Azure web apps for content delivery services
  • Azure media storage account (and bandwidth)
  • Azure CDN
  • Azure Front Door

Without considering the staff power to operate, maintain and monitor this infrastructure, the resource consumption alone can cost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars per month to implement. On top of that, there is a need for constant monitoring, security scanning, SIEM management, etc.

By moving these functions out to the edge network, we consolidate this to a single asset which becomes your publishing target at a comparatively very low cost. All in a package optimized to deliver content to headless systems without compromise. It’s a win-win for everyone from the operations team to the end user.


There is no doubt that we have been inundated with change over the last few years, and the pace of change is unlikely to relent anytime soon. If anything, it is likely to continue to accelerate. By adopting a future-looking API-first approach to content distribution in your technology stack, you will help ensure that this change can be easily managed.

Since there is no longer a strong tie between the actual content delivery and the content authoring environment, both can thrive independently. This allows for more rapid deployment of improvements to authoring capabilities without concern for how it will affect delivery infrastructure. And on the flip side, since content delivery is now fully API-driven and optimized, you know that you can confidently apply that latest NextJS update (or similar) without concern for how it will affect authors. In the end, it’s nothing earth-shattering, it’s simply a practical application of the “separation of concerns” design principle that has not previously been able to reach this level of the infrastructure.


In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, Sitecore Experience Edge emerges as a pivotal solution, addressing the dual challenges of maximizing opportunities and ensuring stability and security. This high-performance content delivery platform ingeniously bridges the gap between content management infrastructure and the public website experience, revolutionizing traditional content delivery mechanisms. By leveraging the power of modern CDN networks, Sitecore Experience Edge not only simplifies the content delivery process but also significantly enhances performance, scalability, and security. This transformative approach eliminates traditional complexities and security risks, ensuring that content is delivered quickly, securely, and efficiently to end-users.

Furthermore, Sitecore Experience Edge presents an optimized solution that significantly reduces the total cost of ownership while futureproofing digital experiences. By adopting a forward-looking, API-first approach, it ensures seamless management and delivery of content, allowing swift adoption of technological advancements without disrupting the content authoring environment. Sitecore Experience Edge is not just a platform but a strategic toolset in navigating the future of digital excellence, providing a robust framework to deliver exceptional user experiences with unparalleled agility and security.

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Steve Hamilton

Chief Technology Officer

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