In this tutorial, you will learn about Episerver DXP, or as it's now known Episerver DXP. Episerver Digital Experience Cloud (DXC) is the new cloud hosting offering provided by Episerver. DXP is a managed cloud-based hosting service that Episerver provides for clients. If you choose to use the DXP service, Episerver will in effect take the hassle of hosting away from you. Instead, the Episerver support team will manage your website's infrastructure for you.
I think there is still quite a bit of confusion in the development community about what exactly DXP offers, so I thought that in this article we can take a deep dive into exactly what you will get. First, DXP isn't a new product, plug-in, or, framework to help you technically build a website. DXP is a service Episerver offers that uses industry-standard providers to host your Episerver environment. If you ever used Everweb, Episerver's web hosting, this can be thought of as its evolution. The benefit of using the DXP service is that your Episerver website will be hosted and configured in a best practice configuration that Episerver has identified. Let us look at what exactly you get with DXP:
Licenses DPX comes with all the Episerver licenses your company will need to host three websites (Dev, QA, Live)
Hosting - DXP uses Azure to host your website. When you buy DXP Episerver will create three environments within Azure for you. These environments are named- Integration: Used for development- Pre-production: Used to QA your site - Production: The live environment
⚠️ Episerver does not provide you with access to the production files ⚠️
CDN and WAF: DPX also comes with Cloudflare. Cloudflare adds your WAF protection and CDN support.
⚠️ Even though Episerver uses Cloudflare, as part of the deal you will not have access directly to edit it. ⚠️
Search: You will get an EpiFind index to use search.
Portal: You get access to the DXP portal. From here you can promote code, look at the logs, manage your licenses, do IIS reset and clear the Cloudflare cache.
Monitoring: New Relic for website monitoring and stats. This has now changed to application insights!
Support: 24/7 Episerver Support
DXP obviously won't be for everyone, however, for certain clients using the DXP service will be an easier option than trying to hose the site in-house. Obviously, as it is a managed service, the costs are also slightly higher than doing it all yourself. The idea behind DXP is that it’s a service that has everything a company needs to host an enterprise-level Episerver website. Episerver will do the hosting set-up and ensure it is configured in the most optimum way.
DXP pricing is based on performance, your website's average traffic, and page views. The best advice that I can give when thinking about which plan you need is to start low. Set a low usage quote and then pay for the extra resources, as and when you need them. If you have a summer sale, for example, once a year where your websites traffic doubles for a brief period, it's more cost-efficient to pay for a low tier option and pay the extra only for peak times.
In terms of environments, Integration is your playpen. You can think of integration as a single server, it won't scale. You wouldn't do your load testing here. Pre-production is the environment to test the production code before promoting it to production. This is the area that you will need to work with Episerver to get to an area where they will be happy to deploy your code into production. This process might seem a bit odd at first, but with DXP you get a 99% uptime SLA which includes your own custom code, so before they can release anything they have to inspect your changes.
NOTE: This process of only Episerver only being able to release your production code changed a few years ago. You can now promote code to the live environments yourself vias the DXP portal"
Some of DXP Pro's
Episerver Support: If you have limited in-house Episerver or IT infrastructure skills, DXP is a good option as you get a lot of hand-holding from the support team. Traditionally, many companies have had to learn these skills in-house. Using DXP might mean that you do not need to hire an infrastructure guy!
Compliance: As you won't have direct access to production, you have a very well documented email trail of what code gets deployed and who has access to your sensitive data.
Find Included: Epifind comes with DXP so if you use Find you get an improved deal as it's bundled in. Find is a great option if you need advanced search requirements on your website, like in an e-commerce website product search.
Azure Windows: One benefit of using Azure is that it uses a scaled-down version of Windows. This obviously means that an azure web-app is a lot more secure. There are fewer points in your system that can be compromised.
Some of DXP Con's
- No Direct Access To Production: On the flip-side of the coin, for some companies not having access to the server itself may cause issues. If you run a website that needs to do code deployments every day, then this might be a show stopper. As mentioned above, the DXP SLA also covers your custom code. This means that when you deploy to pre-production you will need to work with Episerver managed services and agree when a release meets their standards. If you need to release frequently, you will definitely need to consider this.
Personally, I would argue why you would need access to your live files if you do things correctly. Using DXP definitely means you need to architect your solution differently. For example, in a normal project, you may keep a number of site settings in your app settings, in the
web.config. If you need to change these settings frequently, you would be better off making these values configurable within Episerver, removing the need to do a new release to production.
Expensive If You Do not Need Everything: If you don't need to use EpiFind and your website only provides a basic search, you will end up paying for a service you won't use. For a basic search, something like Google Site Search can be used instead for a fraction of the price. If you are not planning on using everything in DXP you will be throwing money down the drain
No Access To Cloudflare: Does your site have any subsites/white label sites/services? If you need to add in WAF rules, although technically possible, the DXP service doesn't allow you access to configure it yourself. You have to use the Cloudfare rules Epsierver decides. No customisation allowed 😞
Price: DXP is more expensive than hosting it yourself. This pricing may put some people off. DXP offers an all or nothing approach. With DXP you have to pay for everything, even if you don't need it all. It would be good if a client could pick and choose what they wanted to help them get cheaper deals.
As I'm hoping you can start to appreciate, DXP provides quite a lot. For certain companies, the DXP offering provides a lot of good benefits. From my personal experience and some conversations I've had with other Episerver partners, some of the sticking points around DXP include, do you want to host a website in the cloud? Do you need access to the live server files? Do you need to apply custom rules in Azure or Cloudflare yourself? Do you have the skills in-house to manage everything yourself? Do you want to use Find? Do you already pay for DDOS protection?
Personally, I like the idea of DXP. Having a managed service via Episerver it takes a lot of the hassle of hosting a website away. Obviously, I never have to pay the bill myself, however, using DXP means I can concentrate on the code. I can focus on features that will help a company to improve its sales funnels and conversion rates.
If you already have a WAF and DDOS protection, or you need access to the WAF firewall rules then things become a little less straight cut. At this point, you will need to crunch the numbers and figure out what works best for you. If you can answer all these and DXP is still a viable option, I'd recommend getting in contact with Episerver to get a quote. When I've recommended DXP it's been for clients with little Episerver knowledge in-house who would fully maximize all the services included in DXP. Happy Coding 🤘