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Are You Ready for Your IBM Commerce V9 Upgrade?

The buzz around IBM WebSphere Commerce V9 is here! IBM has introduced significant improvements to WebSphere Commerce by modernizing the platform to provide customers with increased flexibility and scalability while reducing the TCO of the implementation. IBM has modularized the architecture into loosely coupled components moving to a true platform of microservices. Gone are the days of managing, tuning, and optimizing the monolithic application that has all functionality of the Commerce system built into a single runtime.

Modularization and Microservices

IBM WebSphere Commerce V9 – Modular Architecture
The new architecture separates the platform into search, store, customization, and the core transaction server. This modularization provides organizations more flexibility and scalability, as well as other distinct advantages over the prior architecture.

Improved Performance, Agility, and Scalability with Docker

IBM Commerce V9 introduces Docker technology to improve the performance, agility, and scalability of the platform. Docker containers provide lightweight, stand-alone, executable packages of a piece of software that include everything needed to run it. This technology will:

  • Decrease cost by reducing the footprint (less hardware and skills required to run commerce)
  • Scale more easily and cost-effectively – as demand increases, new “containers” can easily be spun up where and when resources are needed
  • Independence from an OS platform that allows customer to run the same way across development teams, data centers and geographic locations
  • Accelerate innovation by removing infrastructure concerns from application developers
  • Easily deploy new innovations using continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, which removes the former, manual-intensive process of integrating, testing, and deploying new code

Independently Manage the Store Presentation Layer

Does the term “Headless Commerce” ring a bell? Now it’s fully achievable with V9 microservices and the separation of the store server from the search, transaction, and customization servers. The decoupling of the store server provides customers the framework to build new and engaging customer experiences for web, mobile, and other devices without relying on the out-of-the-box Aurora store model to achieve success. The new V9 Aurora store has been re-engineered to communicate with the rest of the IBM Commerce platform strictly through microservices.
This gives customers tremendous flexibility. Content management systems like CoreMedia, Adobe Experience Manager, and Watson Content Hub can be leveraged to put the power of not only managing and editing digital assets into the hands of marketers, but also the building of compelling, personalized experiences using the robust CMS tools marketers love. Organizations can also readily implement store experiences using popular platforms like React and Angular JS, leveraging the same APIs as the new Aurora store.

Separation of Customizations from IBM Commerce Core Code

Those of you who have upgraded prior versions of IBM WebSphere Commerce understand the challenges that came with the prior extension model of the platform quite well. V9 introduces the separation of extensions from the core codebase, allowing customers to begin to cleanly separate customizations of the extensive B2B and B2C business processes built into the platform. This dramatically simplifies the upgrade process that previously could take weeks or months with regression testing of new releases.  Customers who need to retain their customizations can rest assured that with the externalized customizations programming model, IBM will provide continued support for past customizations and APIs.

Technology Changes to Further Lower the TCO

In addition to all of the advantages, such as the improved ability to manage, extend, upgrade, and tune your IBM Commerce environment using a new modern architecture, V9 also brings some fundamental technology changes that will add to the overall reduction of the TCO of the platform.
In version 9, IBM also adopted modern technologies like JPA, jQuery, and Liberty to lower the TCO, improve performance, and scale more easily for peak revenue events. With JPA, the antiquated Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) have been updated to the Java Persistence API. JPA is lighter weight, faster, and easier to create and maintain custom code, with more skilled developers than EJBs – making it easier to find skilled team members.
Liberty servers provide a lightweight application server footprint that means more Docker containers per hardware, allowing you to scale faster and with better performance at less cost.
Finally, the new Aurora starter store in IBM Commerce has been completely re-written in jQuery, which is one of the most commonly used JavaScript libraries. Store pages now load a minimal number of JavaScript and CSS files, improving store performance and page load time.

How do I get to IBM Commerce V9?

The big question in the minds of WebSphere Commerce customers is “How do I get to v9?” IBM has announced the end-of-life for WebSphere Commerce V7 effective April 30, 2019, and many customers need to plan for the V9 upgrade. Fortunately, after the upgrade and the migration to the new technology, the overall reduction in overall TCO, the agility of the development and business teams, and the improved site performance will provide tremendous benefits. However, getting there will require planning and understanding of your current implementation and the options available for your environment to migrate to V9.
The number one piece of advice is: Don’t do this alone. Engage with IBM or a trusted partner like Perficient Digital to help you through this effort. They have the IBM experts to help you understand your current implementation and can guide you to the best approach for your V9 upgrade.

V9 Migration Assessment

The first and most important step is to perform a Readiness Assessment. Perficient Digital can work with you and team with IBM to help you understand the fundamental differences in V9. As a part of the effort, we will diagnose your implementation’s unique requirements for a successful migration and couple that with your business objectives. Some of the key steps performed include:

  • Identifying infrastructure and operational impacts
  • Identifying any technical migration considerations unique to your implementation
  • Providing you with alternative approaches to migration with the cost and benefits of each
  • Building a project planning document with tasks, milestones, and an LOE sizing

Business requirements may come into play. A possible approach would be a “lift and shift” migration to a supported version while you develop a strategy to fully leverage the new architecture, such as building a new presentation layer for your organization. However, “lift and shift” may not be the right solution based on your unique needs and another approach may be necessary. It will depend on results of the assessment.
The path to V9 can vary for each customer. Every implementation is unique and will present different challenges to the migration. Understanding your path and developing a migration plan that will weigh in the underlying business requirements are keys to a successful transition.
Feel free to contact us for help on your journey.

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Patrick Garcia

Pat is an eCommerce thought leader with extensive industry experience architecting B2B and B2C commerce solutions across multiple industries for both medium and enterprise customers. He strives to guide customers in building personalized and engaging experiences that seamlessly blends the brand experience with the shopping experience across all touch points focusing on the needs of today's digitally savvy consumers.

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