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Automatic version upgrade for Sitecore

Author: Anurag Agarwal | Categories: Sitecore CMS, CMS

A Sitecore version upgrade from a broader perspective looks as simple as executing of some SQL scripts on Sitecore databases and installing of an upgrade package. But the upgrade becomes a serious affair as and when you move to its core. And, if you have a multisite instance Sitecore solution, the upgrade becomes a complex project where even small changes can impact multiple websites and stakeholders.

Sitecore

Some very frequent questions that customers have around Sitecore version upgrades include:

  • Is a Sitecore version upgrade a single-step process? Or does it need multiple steps?

A Sitecore version upgrade is actually not a single-step process. It’s a set of steps that need to be performed. Also, you may need to perform the same set of steps multiple times (recursively!) in case your current version does not match the pre-requisites of your target version.

The general steps you need to perform for an upgrade would comprise:
  1. Decide the target Sitecore version that you want to move to.

  2. Decide the target Sitecore version that you want to move to.

  3. Backup your application and database.

  4. Execute the Pre-Install database script (SQL or Oracle, depending upon the database system currently in use), if any.

  5. Install the Sitecore upgrade package.

  6. Execute the Post-Install database script, if any.

  7. Check if your solution is working fine — do some amount of regression testing.

  8. Make all the required changes to your custom code if it has stopped working (even if it’s working, it’s better to build your solution again and deploy the new solution built on your environment, but only after you test it thoroughly!).

  • Do we need to move to the recommended version of Sitecore? Or can we move to a later version even if it’s not recommended by Sitecore?

  • Do we need to upgrade the content management (CM) and content delivery (CD) environments together? Or can we do this in steps?

  • What all is included in upgrading a CD server application? Should we execute the upgrade wizard on the CD server too?

  • What if we have multiple instances in our CM environment? Do we need to execute the upgrade package on all instances?

Upgrade Process

If you have an earlier version of Sitecore installed, and you want to upgrade to Sitecore 8.1, typically the steps would be:

  • Installing the upgrade package

  • Handle warnings and collisions

  • Updating Solr assemblies

  • Updating configuration files

  • Installing PhantomJS

  • Rebuilding search indexes and the link database

In general, any Sitecore version upgrade project entails significant manual activity, intervention and code/testing work, which in turn increase the risk of errors, testing time and corrections needed. These factors contribute to a seemingly simple upgrade actually turning out to be a fairly expensive and extensive project.

edynamic’s Sitecore CoE has developed a tool, the Auto vUpgrader for Sitecore©, that can upgrade Sitecore customers to higher versions. This tool comes pre-configured with automated testing capabilities powered by Selenium. edynamic’s Sitecore MVPs who have worked on this tool have made it super easy to use - you need to just install this tool’s package on your Sitecore instance. The tool logs everything in Sitecore log files, so it is very easy to track the success and failure of upgrade related events. You don’t need any manual activity. You just need to select the current and target versions and go! With automated testing pre-built into this automatic upgrade process using the tool, it could become a matter of hours or days when your website(s) would be sitting pretty on the latest Sitecore version at a fraction of the cost and time required for a manual upgrade.

To take you a step forward, in the second part of the series, we’d want you to prepare a plan and follow it religiously to mitigate risks associated with upgrades.

sitecore upgrade tool

To know more about this brand new tool, you can read about it here or see it in action.