Considering a Sitecore upgrade? Though it can be an intimidating task, these three tips can help you through the process seamlessly. 

If you are currently running an older version of Sitecore and want to upgrade to the latest, you may have glanced at the instructions, only to find yourself feeling way in over your head. Not to fret- the process is actually quite simple, but there are a few things you can do along the way to smooth out the transition. 

Tip #1: Move your configuration customizations to include files

Take any changes you've made to Sitecore settings in the default Web.config and push them to patch include files in the App_Config\Include\ folder. After you've done that you can mostly just use the default Web.config that comes with the updates and have your patch files persist your customizations which will be a big help with your current and future upgrade paths.

If you have customizations outside of the Sitecore settings (e.g. HTTP Handlers), just make sure that you have your version of the Web.config file backed up before the upgrade. When you get to the final step of the upgrade, you can restore those explicit configurations manually. You won't need your customizations during the in-between steps, and you can just use a clean Web.config for going through the intermediate versions in your upgrade.

Tip #2: Map out your upgrade path

Sitecore's upgrade process does not map directly from your version to the target version, unless you happen to be upgrading between revisions of the same Sitecore version. For example, if you are upgrading from Sitecore 6.4 to the latest release of 7.2, your upgrade path will look something like this:

  • 6.4 to 6.5
  • 6.5 to 6.6
  • 6.6 to 7.0
  • 7.0 to 7.1
  • 7.1 to 7.2
  • 7.2 Initial Release to 7.2 latest release

When you go to the installation page for the version you want to upgrade to, it will indicate what the previous step is in the prerequisites section. For your particular upgrade, make sure to go to the update instructions for your target version and walk back through these prerequisites all the way to your current version. Once you have a map of what you need, you'll also be able to download each upgrade package along with the upgrade instructions for each step.

Tip #3: Got a load-balancer? Configure for a live upgrade

If you have a load-balanced environment, you can minimize the time your site is down by keeping one content delivery server live at all times. To do so, follow this simple process:

  • Block access to authoring and create copies of your databases.
  • Take one of the delivery nodes out of the load balancer, connect it to the database copies, and then it bring it back online.
  • Take your authoring and other delivery node out of load balancers.
  • Perform your upgrade and test.
  • When ready, go live!
  • Take the other delivery node out of the balancer and upgrade it.

If you do not have a load-balanced environment, you may want to look into the cost of this to permit you to have more flexible maintenance capabilities on your Sitecore installations.

Not sure if you should upgrade?

Take a look at our previous post on Sitecore 7 upgrade considerations which will help you understand what benefits you will receive from doing an upgrade. We also have a whitepaper on Sitecore 7 upgrades available for download.

Already on Sitecore 7.1, but wondering about upgrading to 7.2?

Sitecore MPV Nick Allen takes you through the journey in his post Sitecore 7.2: A step by step guide to upgrading

comments powered by Disqus