Blog

Why Upgrade to Sitecore 9?

Rick Cabral, Technical Architect

Sitecore 9.0 was released in October of 2017. Nine months later, Update 2 is now available. The “curse” of dot-0 software builds now behind this major release, it’s time to think about upgrading your Sitecore 8 installation.

Security

Whether you serve customers in the European Union or are purely domestic, it’s likely you’ve heard about GDPR, the new set of EU laws governing the collection and storage of visitor data on internet applications. Sitecore 9 has you covered.

Sitecore now offers secure data in-transit and at rest. This means that communications between your servers and advanced Sitecore services are encrypted by default.

When upgrading, the most significant tasks during the upgrade concern security. Network security changes will likely have an impact on your production installation, and may involve configuration tasks new to your local Sitecore developers. It’s important to involve your network support team. They will have work to do issuing certificates to each service and making sure that the certificate server is accessible to all parts of your Sitecore install.

Database Options

If you’ve resisted upgrading your Sitecore 7 Experience Database instance because of the requirement for MongoDB, Sitecore 9 removes this barrier. Sitecore 9 uses SQL Server for Experience Analytics data storage and does not require MongoDB.

If you haven’t upgraded your Sitecore 8 installation because you’re using MongoDB and are concerned about the database switch, Sitecore 9, Update 2 brings back the MongoDB option.

Everybody wins.

Search

In most cases, Sitecore 9 requires a Solr instance. Sitecore now uses Solr as the default search index (replacing on-box lucene). Sitecore also uses Solr as a user behavior cache for Experience Analytics. The good news is that Solr is far more reliable and flexible than the old Lucene implementation. It does require additional servers or cloud services. Sitecore 9 update 2 specifically supports Solr Cloud anywhere, including Sitecore Azure PaaS instances.

Reliability

With version 9, Sitecore has committed to a higher standard of fit and finish. The initial release was the most tested version of the product ever. With only two service updates in nine months, and those updates focused on new functionality and compatibility, it seems they are delivering on their promise.

Sitecore 9 offers support for the latest operating systems and databases, is noticeably faster for content authors, and more stable than ever, with considerable improvements around indexing and publishing.

New Features

The initial release shipped a replacement for the venerable, but dated Web Forms for Marketers module. The new Experience Forms module is “in the box”, providing:

  • an improved form designer
  • better organization of forms in the system
  • the ability to save forms as templates
  • clear api for creating new types of form fields and form submit actions
  • off-the-shelf integration with Experience Analytics and Marketing Automation features

Sitecore now ships with a new version of EXM, again, “in the box” no need to install separately.

Version 9.0.1 also shipped with a completely re-vamped Marketing Automation tool. The new flowchart technology makes it very easy to automate campaign activities based on user behavior, time frames, and internal marketing activities. With EXM also in the box, using Sitecore for your email campaigns is now a reasonable proposition.

Next Steps

Considering a Sitecore upgrade but need more details on the actual upgrade process? Contact us.