Leaving Las Vegas – reflections on Sitecore Symposium 2017 from a first-timer

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

I’m an introvert.   I don’t gamble.

Crowds and Social events drain me of energy.  I recharge by spending time alone.

Spending 4 days in Vegas with 2,900 “of my closest friends” doesn’t typically rise to the top of my bucket list.  I do, however, love to learn .  And I particularly love to learn more about Sitecore.

It turns out the city was the perfect backdrop to this year’s Symposium.  Let me explain.

One aspect of large, vibrant cities such as New York or Las Vegas – one that is commonly highlighted in books and movies – is the naive and optimistic euphoria induced within visitors.   There is a sense – with all the energy and money buzzing about – that anything could happen.

Enter Sitecore in 2017.   It is a time of extreme excitement, energy, and optimism.  Sitecore 9, the maturation of the cloud giving flexibility along with feature parity, the freedom of headless Sitecore, the insights provided by machine learning,  the increased relevance of browser-less sessions and many many more developments industry wide.   It’s truly an amazing time to be in mar-tech!

And so it went in Symposium 2017.  Just as one might feel when walking into the casino with a new suit and a wallet full of cash, the common thread was one of optimistic euphoria.  The attitude was one of “Anything is possible.  Anything can happen”.

Now – what did we actually learn? What was discussed?

Below are some highlights.

Version 9

Clearly this was the star of the show this year.  So many exciting changes and features!  I won’t go into detail and list all of them, as that’s not the purpose of this post.  But  significant time was spent diving into the new features and changes of version 9 such as (but not limited to)

  • xConnect – the service layer that sits between Sitecore (and ANY client) and xDB.
  • Dynamic Placeholders – out of the box now!
  • xDB support for SQL Server 2016 and Cosmos DB.  That’s right – no need need for MongoDB!!
  • Sitecore Install Framework (SIF)
  • No More silverlight! – and an entirely redesigned Engagement Plan UI.
  • New Forms module – R.I.P.  WFFM

The above changes are just a sample of all the goodness in the coming 9.x versions.  Full detailed overviews of the V9 changes have already been blogged by other Symposium attendees such as this excellent summary by Kamruz Jaman.


Of course Symposium is much more than just a series of breakout sessions.  It’s also about the community!  There were 2900 attendees from 600 different companies and 57 different countries!

Meeting fellow developers, partners, vendors, and users of Sitecore – establishing relationships and exchanging ideas – is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this conference.

The enthusiasm and optimism shared by all I met at this conference was infectious!  This is a vibrant community with many many enthusiastic and talented folks involved.

Helping existing clients

With this community gathered all in one place, it was also an excellent opportunity to gather some info to help existing clients with their challenges.  In particular, I had a client that had some specific needs regarding security and scale with xDB.  I was able to talk directly with Sitecore, Microsoft, and other 3rd party hosting vendors all in the same room and get clarity regarding the options available.

The Fun!

Ok – let’s be honest.  Not even the most hardcore Sitecore enthusiast spends 24 hours a day thinking about Sitecore.  We had some fun too!  I mean – come on –   It’s Vegas!

Sitecore apparently knows how to throw a party!



Food for thought

The enthusiasm and optimism felt at the conference was exhilarating.   The community is actively pushing the envelop, exploring the brave new world of omni-channel automated marketing.  We are re-imagining the editor experience.  We are providing freedom to the front end developer and flexibility to the deployment.

We – the Sitecore Community – are walking into Las Vegas with new suits and pockets full of cash.  “Anything is possible!”

Let’s not loose that inspiration.  Of course, we should also keep our eye on the ball and be sure this ends better than it did for these enthusiastic Vegas tourists….








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