This month on hirobe talks, Tom Wynne sits down with Ray Bogman, Head of Commerce, Customer Engineering EMEA at Adobe to discuss the key differences between Adobe Commerce and Magento and the exciting new features we can expect to see in 2023, as well as useful tips on how customers can maximise the full potential of Adobe Commerce.
You can watch their chat below or if you’re short on time, have a read of the transcription below:
Hi, it’s Tom Wynne at hirobe, welcome to our video series.
Good morning. Well, my name is Ray Bogman and I'm based in Amsterdam. I’ve been with Adobe, a little bit over five years now, I was head of commerce for customer engineering, so a fancy word for support, day to day. I’ve actually been working with the software Magento, since 2008 when I worked as an entrepreneur before I joined Magento, which later became Adobe. So I’ve got 15 years ongoing already within the Magento ecommerce space. Prior to that, I was an entrepreneur for many different open-source software systems, like Mumble Joomla, Drupal and Tapestry, since the early days of the millennium. So I’ve been around the block, I'd say for a while already.
Amazing. I know most people within the Magento world and the Adobe community will probably know you already. I know you've got a really good reputation there.
I think that’s a really important question. Actually, if we go back throughout history, it all started, of course, with the whole Magento piece that was available open-source. I think two years in, an enterprise version got created that picked up and even a professional version got created, with some, I would say, smaller sets of tools. But actually, it was Magento, with additional functionality on top of that, which more or less drifted into the early parts of the Magento 2 part. So there was a lot of debate on, what's the difference between the Magento board and the Magento Enterprise back in the day.
I know several blocks of companies that wrote really long summaries on what the difference is, and how you could use these different components, even using modules from the marketplace or third-party solutions. So it was always a battle between, you know, what's Magento or what's Magento Enterprise? And how does this really benefit?
So actually, back in the day, maybe the benefits, not to everybody, were limited. I mean, the enterprise part had the support element included and at some point, we had a service offering called the Cloud, which has been there for a while now. But there wasn't a really big difference, which is why there was a big debate within the community, despite, of course, the whole discussion on PCI compliancy, security and managed services. But over the years, we've seen definitely now with Adobe in the picture, that the solution has gone more enterprise focus. I know there's a lot of debate with that as well but looking right now on Adobe commerce or Adobe commerce cloud, the solution is not comparable to any solution anymore.
The main focus within Adobe now is making sure that we have full reach on the omni-channel components with multiple services, not only included in the source anymore, but the SaaS component around it or micro services or composable commerce. That's really the big difference I would say between the old Magento piece, which is still there and available for everybody. Actually, there's still some small components that will be supported by the Adobe team, like the security patches, upgrades functionality, payment services and general manager. But if we're looking on the other hand at the whole commerce piece, that experience has, in a positive way, exploded.
The amount of services that we are currently offering and are continuing to offer within even this year will be amazing. I mean, IMAGINE is just around the corner, happening two weeks from now in the third week of March, so a lot of great new things will be launched. Just looking at some of those functionalities, I mean API mesh, the ad builder functionality, intelligent merchandiser, you know, these are new components that really set the bar from a commerce perspective to the next level. Actually, these are some of the things that a lot of customers within the enterprise space have been waiting for for several years and now finally, we have the solutions up and running, available and ready to plug in.
With these, I would say services, it doesn't take them too much time to set it up. Back in the day, of course, installing the module and doing all the testing, that has more or less changed and now we use these API's. Let me give an example on the API mesh. It’s a serverless component that has the ability to connect multiple API connections, either REST, GraphQL, or even SOAP and create one single endpoint like GraphQL connection back to the front end, for example. So it's much easier to create these components instead of installing a module or developing a module.
So the time to market it's much easier and it's included within the licence for all cloud customers anyway which really helps to level the bar and, I would say, get going. The difference, to summarise, between the Magento open-source piece and the Adobe Commerce piece is that open source will still be available for everybody, please continue using that. But if you see growth within your business needs or you want to expand on multiple features, well, the whole commerce piece exceeds the limits, and we'll be continuing to be focused on from our end.
Amazing. Yeah, I think you’ve made a couple of important points there. As we said in the green room, I've just filled up a client of mine with a large-scale Adobe commerce and Magento project and they're excited as to what Magento is doing for them and where it's going this year. I think there's a really good momentum with it at the moment and really looking forward to some of the talks in Vegas as well. I know there's a lot of Meet Magento events as well, this year, which I'm hoping to get to because, as you mentioned, it has gained this incredible momentum in the past sort of six months with the features that have been added.
True. Maybe to add one point. Something that my team works on on a regular basis alongside the merchants and back to the product team, is that if there's anything that we see from a customer engineering standpoint that needs support, that bridge between the merchant and product, is pretty easy to make.
I’ll give an example. This is maybe an interesting call on how we like to take support to the next level. Of course there’s a lot of enterprise customers out there and they sometimes have challenges in regard to scalability or the ability to really ramp up some of the components, let's say on a database level. Actually earlier this week, we had a really interesting call, where we more or less reverse engineered all the components that are currently within the monolith and how that would be applicable going into the future to keep these brands scalable. Actually, some interesting points came out of this call and having that bridge between the customer engineering and product engineering now gets into a component that creates our new JIRA tickets, prioritises them and builds solutions as we go to make sure that we’re supporting these merchants in the best way possible.
That's something I actually didn't know, despite working with Adobe commerce all this time. So your approach is very much tailored to the customer need and on-hand to provide support?
Well I mean, some of it sounds tailored but looking at a big portion of our larger customers, again this is something that I'm currently leading, if we have say five of our larger customers and we really reverse engineer requirements gathering and nail down on what kind of components would really help them to succeed, actually if you fix those five issues, it automatically drips down to our other customers. It can really help them if, at some point in time, they start scaling and we have those solutions ready to fly, instead of them having to request those features. So more or less right now, we’re getting into the nitty gritty detail on how we can service these larger customers through Black Friday or Cyber Monday so they don't have any issues moving forward.
That’s really good to hear.
We’ve got three really nice features that really set the level on what is needed on commerce products and definitely on Cloud. Firstly, we’ve finally got automatic scaling, which means within a split architecture. Let me define what a split architecture is. It’s when we have a dedicated front end and a dedicated layer for databases. That front end component has a minimal threshold on the amount of front end that it needs and, depending on the traffic that's incoming, that can automatically scale horizontally. Not saying to an unlimited phase, but enough, I would say that really helps on that momentum. So there's no additional needs anymore but there will be a minimum threshold. Let's say, there will be 600 nodes, but that horizontal scalability can get up to 12, 24 or 48 if needed, depending on the business needs. So that's one thing that our enterprise customers are definitely interested in.
The other one, that we’re really happy with, is the blue/green deployment. This is when we have a production environment and we have pre-production that's ready to go. Now with just the switch of a button, more or less, it's possible to have that pre-production environment which is already ready to go, to go live. This way this pre-production environment becomes the new production environment and the old one can sit there. I mean, let's say you like to roll back, it will still be available. So the minimum deployment time actually gets to zero, which really helps these larger merchants to be supported when rolling out a new feature or new functionality, without any maintenance window.
The one that I'm most proud about, actually it's been there already for a while, but it's maybe the feature that is under-estimated I would say, and that phase is the SWAT or the system wide analysis tool. That's more or less what's happening underneath the hood of your environment and actually, it's working on prem as well. So somebody just needs to install a simple module on their production environment, or even, their pre-production environment. Once you have this module installed, the data is available through the back end of your Adobe commerce environment for reports and that will give you a SaaS dashboards telling you what kind of functionalities you are missing, what kind of priorities you need to take in regard to performance optimisation and what patches are missing. So it's more or less analysing your Adobe commerce space on a day-to-day basis.
Actually, since this is a SaaS solution, new functionality can be added quickly from our end to the SaaS solution. So let me give an example. If we see any security issue or performance issue on a specific version while reading the log files or the version numbers, we are able to proactively give a recommendation on what would help your environment to lower down any tickets or performance degradation. So this functionality really helps to analyse the DNA of your environment and proactively give tailored messages back that tell you what you need to do to get a better health score. I mean, we all know the web vitals, it's been around now for a while and actually Adobe web vitals is a health score that determines how healthy your environment is from a database perspective and a code perspective. So following these guidelines will definitely help you to lower down any tickets that gets into our system and helps you to have a really stable, optimised version running that's everlasting.
Thank you for that. I've actually spoken about SWAT previously with another industry professional, Barnett Hellman who again said very similar things in terms of how effective that can be.
This is a really good question that I think we can talk about for hours. This sounds a little bit off topic, but it's still related to Adobe commerce in general. First of all, I’d say having qualified members on the team that are familiar with commerce. With all respect, I've seen many teams out there, but some of them are lacking basic knowledge components or they're not certified. So the more qualified engineers or team members you have on your team and I would always ask, is this you’re A-team or your B-team? So let's assume that you're creating an A-team, make sure that your team members are certified on multiple disciplines but also have a track record that really stands out. Because actually, once you have a good team in place, then it’s not necessarily straightforward, because Adobe Commerce has some specifications and requirements that you need to be aware of, but at least, it will help you to define what we are looking for and how we want to run and operate on a day-to-day basis.
Let's face it, there are two components. One is building the project, and then running the project. Building is sometimes managed by a partner, but the running and operating is more of a hybrid. The partner can sometimes do the technical maintenance, but the day-to-day operations are sometimes managed within the merchant’s team. The more they are working together, based on the knowledge they have, the better they can operate and decrease support issues. What I'm seeing regularly is that a lack of knowledge is currently the most important component that prevents them from getting to the next level.
That's actually an incredible point. I network with Adobe commerce candidates globally and from my perspective, I work with guys who've been architects or developers for many, many years and because of that, they actually haven't been certified. Then I'll work with clients who have a requirement that they will only consider interviewing people who are certified. So something that I am trying to say to these incredible guys is to become certified, because there's actually so many benefits to doing that. It's up to date knowledge, and from a client perspective, investing in the best talent and the best professionals and then really using that to ultimately get the most from Adobe commerce. I think that's such an incredible point that translates across the entire recruitment sphere.
Well, talking about the technical component, it's pretty clear to get a certification and to have a good track record. I think it's a good topic to see what your experience has been in that in that region. With developers, it's clear. But actually over the last several years I've seen product owners, the Scrum master or the merchant or whatever we call that, become more or less responsible for the entire organisation. The question that I've seen several times over the past few years, is is that product owner, and again I'm speaking with respect to who is managing that, actually the person that gets them to the next phase?
What I'm seeing and what I'm hearing right now is that some of the product owners grew with the company, but actually sometimes you need to have a different skill sets. Maybe a CIO or CTO or whatever fancy name. Not saying the fancy name is important, but having somebody who really can scale on organisation to that next phase. What I'm seeing right now is that there's a lot of product owners are there, and again with all respect, and they're lacking the skill sets on transforming those larger growing organisations into the next phase. So the organisation goes to a standstill instead of the technology because that keeps evolving. It's not the technology, sometimes it's more the organisation that needs a little shove to get to the next level.
There are so many certificates out there that people in those roles can get. There’s the business practitioners and solution specialists and all those other non-development related certificates, which can help, as you say, elevate businesses. I suppose, from a career perspective, you've got those for your own professional development as well. When I get resumes with those certificates on there, I’m in Dreamland and realising there's so many other opportunities that this professional can now go into.
As a final question, you're obviously an e-commerce experts with years of experience and something I always like to ask people in this industry, I suppose more from my nerdiness really is:
Well, not only this year, but also the years to come, I mean looking right now, and again not touching base on composable as a marketing term but more from a broader perspective, what does it really offer? And how does it benefit your organisation? I touched base a little bit already on the app builder and the API mesh components. Back in the day, we had a monolith using all the functionality stacking and on top, etc. Now we are having single components focusing on that specific element. If we're looking at, again the app builder, the API mesh or even the CDP, those are elements that will actually make a difference, instead of having yet another model that's customised. Now we can use best in class solution, SaaS solutions that are available and, with the use of the API, can connect to our occupational piece in a much more efficient way, which not only reduces TCO but also time to market.
So if I'm coming back to the hot topics, its efficiency in general by using components that can scale quickly, that have realistic time to market and are best in class. This way, we all benefit from it, instead of creating all customisations, I mean, over the last several years, we've done a lot of customizations which sometimes took a lot of additional maintenance, to support that on a day-to-day basis. So keep it simple and use best in class solutions that help you scale your business moving forward. This way, adoption and efficiency would be definitely a really good thing from a topic perspective.
Again, a really important point. Something I'm getting a lot of is that efficiency and how things can work. I know that Hiver is one of the things that’s getting a lot of traction and helping businesses really simplify the process of implementing Adobe commerce as well. They’re knocking out a lot of the technical sides and reducing the time to get things up and running, which that's something I'm hearing from the industry as one of the big things of 2023. What are your thoughts?
I mean, it all depends of course on the business requirements. Not saying that every solution is a golden ticket to success. But always look at your requirements. What is your business DNA? Where do you want to go? Based on that, use the right correct set of tools. Because actually, that has the best fundamentals moving forward, instead of just using a solution for a solution. Always look at the business requirements now. Two years or five years down the road, what would I need to grow? And based on that, build your strategy.
Thank you again. That was incredible and I’ve really enjoyed your insight, expertise and knowledge of not just where Adobe Commerce has been and its success, but also its plans for the future.