You’ve created a fresh new site on the latest version of Sitecore. Congratulations! Life is good! Your site is modern. If something breaks on your site, you are able to open a support ticket with Sitecore. These things, however, do not last forever. Eventually, your code base ages. New features you cannot use start to come out on newer versions of Sitecore. One day, you will want to perform a Sitecore upgrade.
What is a Sitecore upgrade?
A Sitecore upgrade is updating the version of Sitecore your site is on. For example, you can upgrade your Sitecore 8 site to Sitecore 9. This brings with it all the bells and whistles that Sitecore 9 provides. What’s involved in a Sitecore upgrade? They include database upgrades, updating Sitecore references and other package versions, changes to the dependency injection approach, upgrading the ORM (like Glass, for example), patching config changes, and potentially search provider changes. This mini-series will go into all the aspects of a Sitecore upgrade in great detail. Upgrades can be very difficult, so why do them?
Support dries up
Sitecore support for older versions ends eventually. A very important perk you will want to keep alive is the ability to open support tickets in times of need.
Designing, building, and implementing top-notch experiences not only requires a great deal of planning, strategy, and time – it also requires the right digital experience platform (DXP) and the right development approach for your business needs.
This is the support life cycle provided by Sitecore here. As you can see, mainstream support lasts for 3 years post-release. The level of support decreases as time goes on. Keeping your site up-to-date with a newer version of Sitecore will help by providing you with the best possible support Sitecore will provide.
With new versions of Sitecore comes new features! These new features may be very beneficial for your company. For example, Sitecore 9 comes with Sitecore Forms, a very easy drag and drop form creation tool. Content authors will not have to get any assistance from developers to use this. Newer versions of Sitecore come out of the box with external authentication support for logging into the Sitecore back-end. Gone are the days where a content author will have to remember both their Sitecore user credentials and their credentials they use for other internal tools. Want to use your company’s Azure Active Directory? Simply provide the Azure credentials for Sitecore Identity to use (and some user role mappings), and your users can use their Azure AD credentials to get into the Sitecore back-end. Your IT administrators will love this feature. They will not have to consistently go in and unlock locked Sitecore accounts. On top of all this, newer versions of Sitecore provide support for newer tech such as SXA and JSS. Your company’s developers may be better suited to do Sitecore development with JSS than the old-fashioned .NET full-stack development.
Optimization for the cloud
Sitecore 9 onwards will be optimized for the cloud on Azure PaaS. The typical benefits of an Azure PaaS solution apply here. Deployments for production environments can be much safer due to the ability to perform blue/green deployments. Guaranteed uptime from Azure is a great benefit. Automated deployments are also wonderful!
To upgrade or not to upgrade? You will need to weigh your options on whether or not to upgrade your site. Upgrading a site can be incredibly difficult especially if you are upgrading from a very old Sitecore version to the latest Sitecore version. Sometimes it is simply easier to perform a rewrite of your site. If a rewrite is out of the question, an upgrade is likely the cheapest option to get the most bang for your buck. This mini-series will explain each phase of an upgrade in greater detail to inform you on what you are getting into if you choose to perform a Sitecore upgrade.