Sitecore 9 Upgrade: Your Ultimate Guide!
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Sitecore 9 Upgrade: Your Ultimate Guide!

Author: Greg Baxter | Categories: CMS, Personalization, Sitecore CMS, Web Content Management, Customer Experience

The robust Sitecore 9 is here! The latest version is faster, ‘slicker’, and definitely smarter than any of its predecessors. In our recently held webinar, I discussed in length the features that this version offers, along with the immense personalization opportunities it brings along for brands. Below are a few of the key points from our discussion…

The WHY

Sitecore 9 represents a huge opportunity to drive omni-channel personalization and optimization. It very much represents a digital marketing singularity and transformation opportunity. Deep improvements to marketing automation, email delivery, and xDB to CRM connectivity via xConnect enable marketers to create an orchestrated marketing ecosystem for optimizing the buyer journey across touchpoints, and delivering incredible customer insights, and highly qualified MQL’s through to sales.

Sitecore 9 is much more than these! In a nutshell, it is an all-in-one unified platform, which negates the complex platform integration, minimizes lengthy project timelines, and controls costs.

The HOW

It sounds simple but is very critical to realize that an upgrade is just a stepping stone. The main objective is to move closer towards a superior customer experience initiative e.g. personalization. Hence, an upgrade is done best if it is done quickly and without many errors. The three-phased approach mentioned below for Sitecore upgrade is widely preferred:
  1. Planning and Risk Assessment

  2. Upgrade Execution and Testing

  3. Ecosystem Upgrade and Growth Plan

Minimize errors while you are upgrading your current Sitecore instance to Sitecore 9 by considering the critical risk areas mentioned below:

  • Deprecated assemblies/Custom Pipelines
  • Difference between CM and CD instance
  • Third-party integrations
  • Additional modules (WFFM, EXM, Commerce, xDB, etc.)
  • Search
  • Content-freeze availability
To upgrade

An upgrade can be done either through a Migration approach or through an Upgrade approach. There are limited tools available, which include Sitecore’s Express Migration tool (based on the Migration approach) and edynamic’s Auto vUpgrade tool (based on the Upgrade approach). edynamic has been a pioneer of sorts with its Sitecore Auto vUpgrade tool that was launched much earlier than any other tool in this genre. So far, over two-dozen brands have successfully used this tool to upgrade their respective Sitecore instances.

Compared to manual upgrades, this tool can save 75% time – the most critical aspect in any upgrade – and complete the task with 90% better quality. For example, for Georgia-Pacific LLC, the largest pulp and paper product manufacturer and distributor in North America, the Auto vUpgrade tool was leveraged to upgrade 13 websites from Sitecore 6.6 to Sitecore 8.1 version within just 1.5 weeks.

The WHAT

Planning is the most important aspect of a Sitecore Upgrade. Planning includes preparing an inventory of modules used in the website and making sure the latest version is available and supported. Performance benchmarking is the other significant aspect to consider before any upgrade.

Recommendation…

Start the upgrade on a development instance and repeat it several times before performing it on the production instance. This will help you identify possible upgrade issues, which you can fix before you channelize all your energies for the upgrade. Should you encounter an errors, contact Sitecore Support for instant assistance. It is recommended to work with a trusted partner like edynamic while you are upgrading your existing Sitecore instance.

For a sneak peek into our webinar highlights, watch the video recording here.