Sitecore Upgrade: Traditional vs. edynamic Automated Upgrade Tool

Author: Harender Kumar | Categories: CMS, Sitecore CMS, Web Content Management

Planning for a Sitecore upgrade? Well, it’s never too late. Although it will be little intimidating, depending upon your existing version, start exploring the Sitecore documentation. Remember, countless steps need to be performed on each level. Keep track of each step that you will have to perform. Also, don’t forget, if you miss anything, you have to go back to the backup of older migrated version and start all over again. 

Sitecore CMS

If I go by the traditional approach, the Sitecore upgrade has the ability to improve incrementally with each Sitecore point release. Sitecore provides upgrade packages for revision along with configuration files, database scripts, and the well-documented instructions to follow the upgrade path.

The obvious problem with the traditional approach is you have to upgrade your Sitecore version in a defined sequence. There is no way you can jump directly from your existing version to the latest and greatest available Sitecore version. There’s an express migration tool that can help you upgrade to the latest Sitecore version, but I’ll cover that in my next blog. For those who are on a historical version of Sitecore and wish to get upgraded, the traditional approach is the only choice.

Sitecore CMS

After going through multiple blogs and articles, here is my list of things that you should be ready with if you’re looking for a seamless Sitecore upgrade:

  1. Discovery
    • Re-evaluate the architecture
    • Document all the modules in use
    • Decide if you want to upgrade with/without XDB upfront

  2. Content Migration
    • You can deserialize the items
    • You can use RAZL to sync your data

  3. Historical-Analytical Data
  4. Configuration Migration
  5. DB changes
  6. Solution Upgrade
    • Sitecore DLLs
    • Watch for API Changes
    • Upgrade in Sitecore customization

  7. Focus on Search upgrade
  8. Make sure your third-party integrations works after upgrade
  9. Focus on deployment upgrade
  10. And finally, testing, testing, and more testing
    • Ensure all components and pages are working fine.

You have to make a checklist of these points and make sure that these are considered and checked on every upgrade cycle until you reach your targeted updated version.

If you are moving from Sitecore 7.x to 8, you should be aware of the changes that might impact your code and application.

Sitecore.ContentSearch API
  • ISearchIndex is disposable in Sitecore 8, you may need to change your code accordingly.
Link Manager
  • The default value of the addAspxExtension attribute in the Link Manager configuration has been changed to false so that Sitecore does not add an aspx extension to the generated links
Database schema changes
  • The Link Database API did not support items from the database with a long name. The names were limited to 50 characters. This has been fixed so that now the limit is 150 characters.
Other changes
  • A new LinkProviderSwitcher class is available. The code inside the switcher block is now executed using the specified LinkProvider instead of the default one. (420501)
  • A new SiteProviderSwitcher class is available. The code inside the switcher block is now executed using the specified SiteProvider instead of the default one. (420503)
  • A new SitecoreSiteProvider has been implemented. This provider aggregates and returns data from all referenced site providers. The provider is now used as the default site provider and aggregates data from the ConfigSiteProvider. This makes it easier to extend the system with additional site providers. (420503)
  • A new pipeline-based item provider has been implemented. New empty pipelines for all public API of the standard ItemProvider have been added to the configuration file. The Standard ItemProvider is used as a fallback provider by default. (422315)
  • The following third-party DLLs have been updated to a newer version. You may have to update and recompile your code if you are referencing any of these DLLs from your code. The Newtonsoft.Json.dll has been updated from 6.0.3 to 6.0.5. (409728)
SPEAK Framework
  • Various performance improvements have been introduced.
Content Search
  • There are small and large changes in the Lucene search implementation within Sitecore on Sitecore 7.5.

For Sitecore 8.1 following are the feature introduced:

  • Fully integrated Device Detection features
  • Fully integrated IP Geolocation features
  • Enhanced Experience Editor features
  • New Experience Analytics reports and dimensions
  • New SPEAK components and improved SPEAK component framework
  • New Language Fallback features
  • Marketing Foundation improvements
  • Improved Content Testing UI
  • Integrated Campaign Creator
  • Improved Path Analyzer components

For Sitecore 8.2, following are the groundbreaking changes:

  • Projects built on Sitecore must be updated to use the .NET 4.5.2 target framework.
  • More than 45 abstractions (namespace: Sitecore.Abstractions) introduced to replace static APIs. The static APIs are still available but will be phased out over the next releases.
  • The Cache API has changed:
  • Cache.GetNamedInstance has been moved to CacheManager.GetNamedInstance. There are two overloaded versions -  generic and common (supporting string keys only).
  • FindCacheByName changed signature; now it has two overloaded versions returning ICache and ICache<TKey> respectively
  • Cache.Add: overloaded methods accepting the size of the cached object have been removed. Now the cache can calculate the size using CacheSizeCalculationStrategy.
  • ASP.NET MVC and WebAPI now use the Sitecore Dependency Injection container by default.​
  • The Solr support package is no longer required and configuring the SOLR.NET DI container is no longer done by changing the application type in global.asax​.​

What if we automate the pain process of migrating over and over again from one version to another version? The tool which can keep track of which installation package needs to be installed, what db script needs to be executed for moving it from one version to another.

edynamic vUpgrade tool does the same thing. It automates the process of keeping track of what need to be executed and integrates with a testing tool such as Selenium to make your testing process easier.

Sitecore vUpgrade Tool

edynamic Sitecore COE has developed a version upgrader for Sitecore which can upgrade customers from their older Sitecore versions to a higher version. This tool comes pre-configured with automated testing capabilities powered by Selenium. It logs everything into Sitecore log files that can easily track the success and failure of upgrade related events.

Sitecore CMS

The best feature of the tool is that you don’t need to perform any manual activity. With automated testing pre-built into this automatic upgrade process, by using the tool, the installation takes place in just a few days and in the most efficient manner.

Sitecore CMS

edynamic’s vUpgrader comes with a bucket of benefits. Following are the key features of the Upgradve tool:

  1. Integrated automated testing with Selenium
  2. Minimal manual intervention
  3. Portable solution – no infrastructure/environment like cloud, etc. not required.
  4. Low cost overhead in upgrade
  5. Pluggable component within Sitecore

So, if you are seeking to upgrade to the higher Sitecore version, You can refer the blog, Version Upgrades for Sitecore- Planning for an upgradexz` that talks about having a plan in place that you must follow religiously to mitigate risks associated with upgrades.

Sitecore CMS

Also, you can contact us for a free demo if you want to see how the automatic Sitecore Version Upgrader works.

Stay tuned!