Reflecting on 2016, my new role leading Sitecore’s Global Partnerships and Alliances, and Sitecore Symposium in New Orleans were definite highlights. Regarding Symposium, in addition to brass bands and beignets, I had many opportunities to talk about Sitecore’s future with customers and media. One of those opportunities was with CMSWire’s Erika Morphy, who wrote:

[Sitecore] has decided to incrementally re-architect its entire stack around to Microsoft's NET Core platform… Guarnaccia says, "NET Core is Microsoft's answer to the new coding standards and the way people build things now online. It is very microservices oriented." For example, one of the new features in 8.2, Advanced Publishing, is based on NET Core.  It publishes context via a parallelized distribution engine that uses distributed cloud deployments. For the end user that means less lag time, or no more spinning wheel. The beauty of the framework is that separate work tasks can be completed in parallel, Guarnaccia said. Once the bare bones content and structure is in place that framework can be handed off to an agency to style and deploy. "One person can work on content entry, while someone else is doing visual design and someone else is doing back end development. This overlap of various stages of the project collapses the development time."

Moving away from monolithic applications

Moving in 2017, we are indeed embarking on the next generation of Sitecore, evolving our platform around Microsoft .NET Core. As Ms. Morphy captured, .NET Core enables a new paradigm of application development. Microsoft, along with the rest of the software industry, is moving away from big, heavy, monolithic applications, to a much lighter-weight component and kernel orientation.

Sitecore Commerce is the first major Sitecore product being built around this model, reflecting our “commerce first” future. The rest of our platform will evolve in the same way.

Investing in the future is sexy

Those eleven words—“The rest of our platform will evolve in the same way”—signifies a tremendous amount of investment. Sitecore is investing significantly to keep current with state-of-the-art software development. We’re investing to allow our customers to execute quicker and better, and keeping Sitecore a platform they want to build upon. Our investment in core innovation, in turn, allows Sitecore partners and customers to attract the talent they need move their businesses forward.

This type of investment is hard for software vendors to do. On the surface, re-working the guts of your product is not as exciting as trumpeting hot new features or tools. (Although at Sitecore, we have plenty of those, too.)

What is sexy is thinking about the future, and empowering your customers to quickly move forward with their business. If you’re American Express, Carnival Cruise Lines, easyJet, or L’Oréal, you don’t want to spend two years re-architecting your environment to be current. That’s heavy lifting, and world-class companies expect this from their software vendors.

Sitecore is doing this work. Otherwise, we would just be creating technical debt for ourselves and our customers. Oracle comes to mind—no matter how loudly Larry Ellison embraces the cloud, it’s still legacy technology, accreting technical debt.

Or we’d be killing our company, like Vignette. By delaying investment in its core technology, Vignette became a legacy vendor. It waited so long between v6 and v7, Vignette had to re-architect the product so broadly that it had to be re-built from scratch. Customers found it so difficult to move forward with Vignette that they evaluated other vendors.

And that, as tech history tells us, put the nail in the coffin for Vignette.

The right thing for customers and partners

Again, Sitecore’s migration to .NET Core is an unequivocal positive for customers and partners. We’re empowering Sitecore partners to disrupt themselves, and their customer relationships, by focusing more fully on high-value services. And, to repeat another important theme, commitment to product improvement is in Sitecore’s DNA because it has to be. Other vendors can cheat on building quality into their core product because their professional services can smooth over any shortcomings. Not so with Sitecore; we have to stay on top of market trends and deliver a polished product, because we are highly dependent on solution delivery through our partners.

In other words, our partners and customers keep Sitecore honest. I can’t think of a better feeling to experience as I ring in the New Year with family, colleagues, and friends.

Darren Guarnaccia is EVP and Global Leader of Partnerships and Alliances at Sitecore. Follow him on Twitter @dguarnaccia.