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Sitecore 10.4 is Out, Now What?

Bruce Mars Xj8qrwvuoes Unsplash

A few days ago, Sitecore released 10.4 of its platform DXP Products: XM and XP. Over the past several months, Sitecore has been doubling down on their messaging to existing customers that there is a path for them if they don’t want to move to XM Cloud in the near future and that they would continue to support and provide value to customers on their platform DXP products. They have even committed to another release, 10.5 planned for next year.

Notable Improvements in 10.4

Sitecore 10.4 includes the usual host of improvements to both the core platform as well as Sitecore Experience Accelerator. I suspect many of these improvements are being pushed down from improvements to XM Cloud since both share the core CMS capabilities. For example, 10.4 includes a number of accessibility improvements which were rolled out to XM Cloud Users back in August of 2023.

If you’re on XP, there are some interesting improvements like the ability to “bulk assign marketing definitions to content,” and “trigger campaigns based on goals or rules,” which makes things easier for marketers.  But probably the most interesting new feature has not even been fully released yet. Sitecore promised to release a new “Codeless Schema Extension” which promises to enable users to modify the xConnect schema without requiring a deployment. While I haven’t seen it yet, I suspect it is very similar to User Settings for Sitecore, a module I released several years ago to do the same thing.

There are a few other improvements that make it easier to get data out of xDB, whether you want to integrate that with Sitecore CDP or just pull the data to do analysis in Power BI.  There’s also a XM Cloud migration tool that makes it easier to migrate content to XM Cloud.

The Support Story

Sitecore offers three phases of support for all their releases. Mainstream support lasts three years and provides comprehensive support for the product. Extended support can be purchased from Sitecore for an additional 3 years, but at an additional cost from Sitecore. Sustaining support really only provides production incident support (not even security patches) but will extend your support window an additional two years.

This means you could technically be supported on 10.4 through 2032. Sitecore 10.1 and earlier are already out of Mainstream support, with 10.2 going out of mainstream support at the end of this year. Customers on Sitecore 9.1 – 10.1 can purchase extended support for an additional fee, though 9.1 moves to “sustaining support” at the end of this year. Sustaining support for Sitecore 8.2 ends at the end of this year.

So, Should I Upgrade?

The longer you wait between upgrades, the more complex and costly it is to perform the upgrade. It’s a lot easier to upgrade to 10.4 from 10.3 or 10.2 than it would be from 9.3 or 8.2.  If you’re on a relatively recent version of Sitecore and the value of some of the new features of 10.4 are things you’d take advantage of, planning an upgrade is something we would recommend if you’re not ready for a move to headless or XM Cloud.

If you are an older version of Sitecore, you’ll need to weigh the value of the upgrade, of having access to better support to the effort and cost involved in upgrading. Chances are if you’re on an older version of Sitecore, it may be time for a design refresh or other improvements that may make it more advantageous to rebuild headless and XM Cloud as the incremental effort to move to headless on top of a redesign doesn’t add too much to the project effort and cost.

If you do end up upgrading, it’s worth considering whether to stay with XP or move to XM. If you’re not using marketing features or Sitecore Analytics already, I don’t think anything new in your upgraded version will compel you to start using them. Plus, there is saving as XM has less infrastructure and is easier to manage. When you are ready to add marketing capabilities you can take a composable approach whether you adopt Sitecore tools like CDP, Personalize or Send or competing products from other vendors.

Should I Move to XM Cloud?

It was almost a year ago when I made the case to skip the upgrade and go right to XM Cloud. Much of what I wrote then still holds true, if not more so. Since then, Sitecore has continued to add improvements at a rapid pace. They’ve added their new Forms Builder, added support for SAML to the portal, and many other improvements to XM Cloud. Not facing the need to plan an upgrade brings a ton of value, besides being able to not worry about Infrastructure.

That being said, if you’re happy with XM or XP, your environments are stable, are on a relatively new version with a simpler upgrade lift and have no plans to redesign or rearchitect your site, an upgrade can be a straightforward way to unlock additional features, extend your support window and ensure you get the most value out of your existing Sitecore investments.

If you’re facing a larger lift or know that you’ll be redesigning your site soon, it’s worth considering whether you should just save what you would have invested in an upgrade into moving you closer to that future state. Whether that’s starting to move to a headless architecture, investing in composable solutions like CDP or Personalize or just waiting until you’re ready to take the next step.

Perficient Can Help

If you are ready to Upgrade, we are the Sitecore Upgrade Experts. We’ve got a ton of experience whether it’s a minor or major upgrade and know how to remediate all the common and not so common issues you’ll face with an upgrade. If you’re ready to jumpstart your move to XM Cloud, we’ve got you covered there as well. If you’re not sure, we can help you sort through your options.

Besides the guide I wrote a while back, A Practical Roadmap for moving to XM Cloud, we’ve had a lot of success in running workshops with our customers to work through the options, benefits and costs associated with an upgrade or move to XM Cloud.   If you are interested in any of these options, we’d love to help. You can reach out to me on LinkedIn, Twitter or fill out our contact form.

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David San Filippo, Principal

David is the Prinicpal of the Sitecore and Optimizely practice at Perficient, David estimates, architects and delivers digital marketing solutions at scale on the Sitecore Platform. A 4X Sitecore Technology MVP, David has written articles for MSDN Magazine and the Microsoft Architecture Journal. He has spoken at Sitecore Symposium, Sitecore Virtual Developer Day, user group meetings and code camps.

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