The Must-to-Follow Steps for Successful Sitecore Upgrade

Author: Anurag Agarwal | Categories: CMS, Sitecore CMS

On the surface, Sitecore Version Upgrade appears simple – just as easy as it is to execute some SQL scripts on Sitecore databases and install an upgrade package. However, as you move to its core, it becomes critical. And, if you have the multisite instance, Sitecore Solution, you will realize that it has become even more complex – even a small change in one can affect all the other clients using Sitecore. This is what makes an upgrade process tricky.

If you have an earlier version of Sitecore installed, and you want to upgrade your existing CMS environment to Sitecore 8.x, you can follow the steps below:

  • Install the upgrade package
  • Handle warnings and collisions
  • Update Solr Assemblies
  • Update the configuration files
  • Install PhantomJS
  • Rebuild search indexes and the link database
  • Upgrade WFFM Module
  • Upgrade DMS

While upgrading, there are a number of activities that you need to accomplish manually – missing out on even one of them will render the process incomplete. To be able to fulfill this cycle, and ensure that you’re able to fix any issue that may arise in real time, you may have to seek the support of a technical team. So, to minimize any chances of ‘something going wrong’, it’s always recommended that you consider an upgrade plan and follow it to the ‘T’. Not only will this prepare you for what lies ahead, it can also help you break the bigger goal into a number of smaller ones to make it convenient.

Here’s the plan to keep you focused:

Determine your version jump points

Determine the current and target versions of Sitecore to outline the upgrade plan. Sitecore version-to-version upgrades often allow upgrading from one major release to the next, but not skip major releases. For this reason, you need to map out your plan.

Prepare everything upfront

Seasoned developers know that it takes a lot of upfront planning and discovery before actual development can occur on a project. This helps plan out tasks and break the larger process into smaller, manageable chunks. Same it is with the upgrade process. Each version jump is a pivotal milestone in the process, so it's helpful to prep everything upfront.

Upgrade in segments

Upgrading in parts is always a preferred option. Divide your upgrade process into logical segments and then start from one version to the next. This step can minimize upgrade errors (due to skipped levels) from cropping up.

Repeat the pattern

Now repeat the same process for the next release. Copy the site root from this newly updated version to the next. Also, remember to back up the database, the latest one – this is one process that should be followed after every critical step. Remember also to list the database names on your spreadsheet. Update the dataFolder and connection strings again and do the backup all over again. Continue this process until you’ve reached your target version.

QA across jump points

Now that you’ve finished the process of upgrading, it’s time to run a quality check on your website(s). For every jump site you’ve created, you need to test minutely. We recommend you to look at all of your pages for each version that you’ve created.

I have compiled the necessary steps that you’ll come across, during the Sitecore version upgrade activity. Following are some of the cautions you need to consider while upgrading:

1. .Net framework Software Installation issue

You must have the latest .Net framework setup on server. The latest version of Sitecore requires the latest .Net framework.

2. MVC setup issue

Have the MVC setup on the server. During a version upgrade, some Sitecore versions require the MVC.

3. Update progress monitoring issue

To monitor the update progress, get access to the server where the upgrade process is running.

4. MongoDB Setup

Also, ensure that the MongoDB is setup on the server.

5. Application code changes according to latest .Net framework

Web application code should be on the latest .Net framework.

6. Sitecore license issue

Make sure that the Sitecore license carries the latest version rights.

7. Sitecore Module code changes according to the latest versio

Sitecore modules like WFFM requires some code changes in the latest version – make sure this is in place.

8. Code changes in Lucene search

Sitecore has removed a few classes from the latest Lucene assembly – so, you need to accordingly do some application code changes to match up.

9. Database and application backup size constraint

Ensure that there is sufficient size allocation for the database and the application is backed up during the upgrade process.
An upgrade process may be challenging; nonetheless, by following the steps mentioned above, you can easily minimize the risks and make the process easy to manage.

For more insight into what lies beyond the upgrade, don’t miss to check out my eBook on Considering a Sitecore 8.2 Upgrade?