AEM 101-61: Mastering AEM Launches: Expert Tips for Scheduling and Managing Releases

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)
Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)

1. Introduction

Welcome back to our comprehensive “AEM 101” series, where we delve deep into the functionalities and capabilities of Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). AEM stands at the forefront of digital asset management, offering robust solutions for businesses looking to streamline their digital initiatives. As a unified platform, AEM not only facilitates the management of media assets but also helps in building responsive websites, mobile apps, and forms, making it an indispensable tool for marketers, IT professionals, and content developers alike.

In our previous posts, we’ve explored various foundational aspects of AEM, including the basics of setting up environments, content repository strategies, and the core components that make AEM a dynamic tool for digital experience management. We’ve also touched on user roles and permissions, providing you with the know-how to configure and secure your AEM instances effectively.

Today, we shift our focus to a crucial part of content management workflows: scheduling and managing releases in AEM. This post is designed to help you understand the intricacies of AEM’s Launches, a feature that allows for meticulous planning and execution of content releases. Whether you’re rolling out a minor update or a major overhaul, mastering these tools will ensure that your deployments are seamless and error-free. Let’s dive into how you can leverage AEM’s capabilities to schedule and manage your releases efficiently, ensuring your content is always fresh, relevant, and engaging.

2. Understanding AEM Launches

2.1 What are AEM Launches?

In Adobe Experience Manager, “Launches” is a feature designed to facilitate the planning and execution of multiple content releases. Essentially, AEM Launches allow you to create, manage, and deploy content variations tailored to specific target audiences, events, or promotions, all from a single source of truth. This capability ensures that every alteration or update goes through a systematic process before going live, enhancing both accuracy and efficiency.

2.2 Role in Project Management

The integration of Launches into project management is a game-changer for content teams. It allows project managers and content creators to schedule future updates, manage multiple versions of a page or component, and coordinate the efforts of diverse teams within an organized timeline. By using AEM Launches, teams can work on upcoming projects or campaigns in a staging environment without disrupting the live site. This separation of environments ensures that ongoing work does not affect current user experiences while still progressing on scheduled tasks.

2.3 Importance in Content Management Workflows

AEM Launches play a critical role in content management workflows by providing a structured approach to content deployment. For organizations that manage large volumes of content across various channels, maintaining consistency and timing can be challenging. Launches help by:

  • Ensuring Consistency: Launches maintain a cohesive experience across all channels by allowing teams to preview, test, and refine content before it goes live. This is crucial for ensuring that all elements, from text to images, work harmoniously across user touchpoints.
  • Facilitating Collaboration: With AEM Launches, multiple stakeholders can collaborate on projects without the risk of overwriting each other’s work. Marketing, design, and development teams can simultaneously work on different aspects of a release, knowing that their changes are tracked and can be merged or rolled back if necessary.
  • Streamlining Operations: Launches streamline operations by reducing the manual effort needed to push content live. Automated workflows can be set up to trigger content release at predetermined times, which is invaluable for launches that need to coincide with specific events or marketing peaks.

In summary, AEM Launches are indispensable for organizations looking to enhance their digital asset management and content delivery strategies. They not only support complex, multi-layered marketing campaigns but also ensure that every piece of content delivered aligns perfectly with the brand’s standards and campaign goals.

3. Planning and Scheduling AEM Releases

Planning and scheduling releases in Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is a critical process that ensures content is updated efficiently and consistently, maximizing the impact of digital campaigns. By leveraging AEM’s robust scheduling features, organizations can automate much of the release process, reducing human error and aligning content deployment with strategic business goals.

3.1 Step-by-Step Guide on Planning a Release Cycle in AEM

  1. Define Objectives and Scope:
    • Start by clearly defining the goals of the release. Whether it’s launching a new product page or updating seasonal content, understanding the objective helps shape the workflow.
    • Determine the scope of the release, including which sites, languages, or channels are impacted.
  2. Set Up the Environment:
    • Use AEM’s staging environment to set up and preview changes. This ensures that all modifications are vetted before they go live.
    • Employ AEM’s versioning tools to keep track of changes and enable rollback if needed.
  3. Schedule Content Updates:
    • In the AEM Authoring environment, navigate to the Timewarp tool to schedule and visualize how content will appear at future dates.
    • Use the Launches feature to create a separate workspace where all scheduled changes can be managed and reviewed.
  4. Collaborate and Approve:
    • Facilitate collaboration across different teams (e.g., content, design, marketing) to review the scheduled content updates.
    • Implement approval workflows in AEM to ensure all changes are reviewed and approved before they go live.
  5. Automate the Deployment:
    • Automate deployment using AEM’s managed services to schedule and execute the release.
    • Configure notifications to keep all stakeholders informed once the deployment is successful or if issues arise.
  6. Monitor and Optimize:
    • Post-release, monitor the performance of the content against the defined objectives.
    • Gather feedback and data to optimize future releases.

3.2 Tools and Features within AEM that Aid in Scheduling

  • Launches: Allows for the creation of content branches that can be worked on independently and merged later.
  • Timewarp: View how the site will look at future dates with scheduled content going live.
  • Workflows: Automate the review and approval processes to ensure content is vetted before release.
  • Cloud Manager in AEM as a Cloud Service: Use this for CI/CD pipelines, automating testing and deployment tasks.

3.3 Common Pitfalls in Scheduling Releases and How to Avoid Them

  1. Overlapping Schedules:
    • Avoid scheduling too many releases close together, which can lead to errors and performance issues. Use the AEM calendar to maintain visibility of all scheduled activities.
  2. Inadequate Testing:
    • Always schedule enough time for thorough testing, especially for major releases. Utilize AEM’s pre-production environments to simulate real-world usage.
  3. Poor Communication:
    • Establish clear communication channels and regular updates across all teams involved. Ensure that everyone is aware of their roles and the release timeline.
  4. Lack of Backup Plans:
    • Always have rollback plans and backups ready in case something goes wrong during the live deployment.

4. Managing AEM Deployments

Efficient management of AEM deployments is critical to the success of digital projects, ensuring that content and features are delivered to users without disruption. This section covers strategic approaches to deployment, essential tools, and best practices to streamline this process.

4.1 Strategies for Managing Deployments Smoothly

  1. Incremental Deployment:
    • Instead of large-scale overhauls, adopt an incremental approach to deployments. This reduces risk by allowing issues to be identified and resolved early in smaller, manageable chunks.
  2. Environment Separation:
    • Maintain separate environments for development, testing, and production. This separation ensures that the production environment remains stable and unaffected by development activities.
  3. Regular Monitoring and Logging:
    • Implement comprehensive monitoring and logging to track the health of the AEM environment and to quickly pinpoint issues when they arise during deployments.

4.2 Version Control and Backup Strategies

  • Use of a Version Control System (VCS):
    • Implement a VCS like Git to manage changes in your AEM projects. This allows for better tracking of changes, easier rollback, and enhanced collaboration among team members.
  • Regular Backups:
    • Schedule regular backups of the AEM repository, configurations, and custom code. Ensure that backups are stored securely and tested regularly to confirm they can be restored successfully.
  • Snapshotting Environments:
    • Before major deployments, snapshot your environments. This provides a quick rollback option if something goes wrong during or after the deployment.

4.3 Automating Deployment Processes: Tools and Scripts

  • Cloud Manager for AEM as a Cloud Service:
    • Utilize Cloud Manager to automate testing, staging, and production pipelines. This tool ensures consistent deployments and integrates quality checks before changes go live.
  • Custom Scripts:
    • Develop scripts to automate repetitive tasks such as data import/export, cache clearing, or specific deployment steps. These can significantly reduce manual errors and save time.
  • CI/CD Pipelines:
    • Implement Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment pipelines using tools like Jenkins or Bamboo. These pipelines automate the process from code commit to deployment, ensuring that only verified changes are deployed to production.

4.4 Best Practices for Ensuring Consistent Deployments

  1. Deployment Checklists:
    • Create detailed deployment checklists that outline every step of the process. This ensures nothing is overlooked and helps maintain consistency across deployments.
  2. Staging Reviews:
    • Conduct thorough reviews in a staging environment that mirrors the production environment. This is vital for catching issues before they affect the live site.
  3. Change Management Policies:
    • Establish and enforce change management policies to control how modifications are made and deployed. This includes requiring approvals for changes and maintaining a log of all activities for audit purposes.
  4. Training and Documentation:
    • Regularly train staff on deployment procedures and keep documentation up-to-date. Well-informed team members are less likely to make errors that can lead to deployment issues.

5. Automation in Release Management

5.1 Benefits of Automating Release Processes

Automating release processes in Adobe Experience Manager not only streamlines operations but also significantly reduces the potential for human error, enhances consistency, and improves the efficiency of deployments. Here are some key benefits:

  • Increased Efficiency: Automation speeds up the release process by executing repetitive tasks quickly and accurately.
  • Improved Accuracy: Automated processes are less prone to errors than manual ones, ensuring that deployments are executed flawlessly every time.
  • Enhanced Scalability: Automation can handle increasing amounts of work or deployments without the need to exponentially increase resources.
  • Consistent Results: Ensure that every deployment is carried out in exactly the same way, reducing variability between releases.

5.2 Examples of Automation in AEM: From Testing to Live Deployments

  • Automated Testing: Use automated scripts to run tests on your content and code before they go live. This includes unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing.
  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): Implement CI/CD pipelines to automate the building, testing, and deployment of AEM projects. Tools like Jenkins or CircleCI can be used to manage these pipelines.
  • Automated Backups and Snapshots: Set up automated routines to back up AEM repositories and configurations, ensuring that you can quickly restore your environment if needed.

5.3 Tools and Scripts That Can Help Automate the AEM Release Process

  • Cloud Manager: Use Adobe’s Cloud Manager for AEM as a Cloud Service to automate, manage, and optimize the delivery of AEM applications.
  • Custom Scripts: Develop custom scripts in Groovy or other scripting languages that can automate specific tasks within your AEM environment, such as purging dispatcher cache or preloading certain pages.
  • Configuration Management Tools: Tools like Ansible, Chef, or Puppet can be used to manage configurations and ensure that all instances in your AEM environment are consistent.

6. Advanced Tips and Best Practices

6.1 Best Practices for AEM Release Management

Implementing best practices in release management ensures that each release is smooth, stable, and delivers value to users. Here are some advanced tips:

  1. Use of Blue/Green Deployments: Minimize downtime and reduce risk by maintaining two identical production environments (“Blue” and “Green”). At any time, one serves live production traffic while the other is staged for the next release.
  2. Feature Toggles: Implement feature toggles to manage which features are available to users. This allows features to be tested in production without exposing them to all users.
  3. Performance Monitoring: Continuously monitor the performance post-deployment. Use tools like Adobe’s Dynamic Tag Management to track how changes impact user experience.

6.2 Expert Tips for Efficient AEM Launches and Release Management

  • Early Involvement of QA Teams: Involve QA early in the development process to align testing with the overall release strategy, ensuring issues are identified and addressed well before deployment.
  • Comprehensive Rollback Strategies: Always have a detailed rollback plan in place for every release. Test rollback procedures regularly to ensure they can be executed smoothly if needed.
  • Regular Reviews and Audits: Regularly review and audit the release process and its outcomes to identify areas for improvement.

7. Troubleshooting Common Issues

During the deployment and management of AEM Launches, several issues may arise that can disrupt the smooth execution of your content strategies. Understanding these challenges and knowing how to address them effectively is crucial.

7.1 Common Challenges and Issues Faced During AEM Launches:

  1. Performance Degradation:
    • Slow load times or system unresponsiveness during or after a launch.
  2. Content Sync Errors:
    • Issues where content does not appear as expected across different channels or environments.
  3. Deployment Failures:
    • Complete failure of content to go live due to various errors in the deployment pipeline.

7.2 How to Troubleshoot and Resolve These Issues Effectively:

  • Performance Degradation:
    • Monitor server performance and resource utilization to identify bottlenecks.
    • Optimize server configurations and review your content delivery networks (CDNs) and cache settings.
  • Content Sync Errors:
    • Ensure that your replication agents are properly configured and working as expected.
    • Use the AEM tools available for validating and syncing content across your instances.
  • Deployment Failures:
    • Check logs to understand the error codes and messages.
    • Validate all pre-deployment checklists and ensure that all dependencies are correctly configured.
    • Use AEM’s built-in tools for hotfixes and quick fixes where appropriate.


Throughout this post, we’ve explored several key strategies to optimize the scheduling and management of AEM releases. We discussed how to plan effectively, automate processes, manage deployments smoothly, and troubleshoot common issues. By implementing these strategies, organizations can enhance their AEM operations, leading to more efficient and error-free releases.

I hope this guide has been insightful and that you are able to take away actionable tips to apply to your AEM projects. I’d love to hear about your experiences with AEM Launches—successes, challenges, or any insights you’ve gathered along the way. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Don’t forget to share this post within your professional networks to help others find these strategies. For more in-depth discussions and guides, check out the previous posts in our AEM 101 series.

Together, let’s master the art of digital experience management with AEM!

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