No two Episerver upgrade projects are ever the same. So what's the best way to capture and manage variation when tackling your next Epi upgrade?
When approaching the topic of upgrading Episerver, there are some fundamental questions we must ask of ourselves, and of the organization.
- Who will own/sponsor the upgrade? IT, Marketing, Bob?
- What is driving the need upgrade, what is the value to the organization?
- Is it possible to upgrade? Is there a path to upgrade from the current version?
- How many versions is too many versions. Is it more cost effective to start over, or incrementally upgrade?
Generally, we would recommend upgrading at least once per year to limit the buildup of technical debt. In our experience it's always safer to choose when to upgrade rather than waiting for necessity to drive that change. Although if you're currently in that position you are not alone. In our experience few organizations budget for and prioritize upgrades over other business needs.
For Episerver CMS implementations we would recommend evaluating each minor version as it is released and try to stay within one major version of the current release. That usually means budgeting for one major upgrade per year and including scope for minor version upgrades in-between.
No two upgrade projects are ever the same, as implementations are customized, and bespoke content structures created, we move away from a generic upgrade path. With no silver bullet available we instead create processes to capture and manage variation.
- Readiness Planning - Discovery
- Selecting a target version.
- Evaluate current system dependencies as they relate to the new target version.
- Does this impact your hosting decision?
- Does this version add new hardware requirements?
- Does this new version require you to upgrade your OS?
- Does this new version change any contracts between integrated systems? Do API changes impact dependent systems?
- Upgrade Documentation
- Upgrade the current implementation in isolation.
- Document problems and resolutions upgrading to your target version.
- Smoke test key integrations, functionality, and any transactional parts of the application.
- Launch Planning
- Does the release chain still look the same?
- Engage stakeholders, plan communication, and schedule resources.
- Have a rollback plan.
- Promotion Through to Production
- Execute the launch plan.
- Schedule code and content freezes.
- Complete data transformation & migration tasks.
- Test everything! If it wasn't broken before the upgrade, assume that you have to prove that after the upgrade.
- Upgrade Scheduling
- Critical to ongoing support, devise a schedule and allocate budget for your next upgrade project.
- Remember to upgrade often to keep upgrade projects small, and technical debt to a minimum.
Again, each upgrade is different, but we can to some extent set expectations, based on the version of Episerver you are upgrading from.
Upgrading Episerver CMS from version 6.x
in cases where our clients are running much older versions of Episerver, the only course available, is re-implementation.
The very next Epi CMS version (12) will drop support for Web Forms, in favor of ASP.NET MVC, a framework introduced in Episerver version 7.
The transition to MVC has been a requirement for all .NET CMS platform implementations in the last 5 or so years and has only recently started to be enforced. If you're upgrading from v6.x or below, we would recommend a full re-implementation as the most cost effective and future proof option.
Upgrading Episerver CMS from version 7.x
When upgrading from Episerver 7.x, we should first and foremost evaluate the need to migrate to ASP.NET MVC, and away from WebForms.
Upgrading from Episerver Version 7 is the longest path to the current version. The number of breaking changes in subsequent major version releases is not insignificant and can be another reason to assess the option of re-implementing over upgrading.
Upgrading Episerver CMS from version 8.x onwards
If upgrading from Episerver version 8.x onwards, we would recommend taking an incremental approach. There are no major schema changes in subsequent releases, but enough breaking changes to keep you on your toes.
Major upgrades can be a daunting prospect, Aware are here to help at every stage. From evaluating the best upgrade path, to deploying the latest Episerver versions. Considering an upgrade? Let's talk.
You can find information on upgrading Episerver, including a list of breaking changes, on Epserver world.