Why You Should Upgrade to Sitecore 9.2

Our Solutions Architect, Kate Orlova, has reviewed the benefits of upgrading to Sitecore 9.2 sharing her understanding to help organisations decide whether or not to upgrade.

Sitecore 9.2 brings significant improvements in data, security, marketing, automation and customer experience management - all thanks to a completely new technology stack starting from Sitecore Javascript Services (JSS), which offers the headless architecture with the entirely decoupled presentation layer and finishing with full cloud hosting on Azure.

However, there are a number of other benefits and below you can find a summary of these:

11 Key Benefits of Sitecore 9.2

1. Sitecore 9 Connectors

Sitecore 9 offers great out of the box connectors such as Sitecore Connect for Salesforce Marketing Cloud, CRM Connect, Federated Authentication and Data Exchange Framework version 2 for custom integration.

2. MS SQL Server for xDB Collection database

Sitecore 9 now has an option of using Microsoft SQL Server for Experience database (xDB) instead of MongoDB.

3. Email Experience Manager

Email Experience Manager (EXM) is included within Sitecore 9 out of the box.

4. Device Detection module

The Device Detection module is built into the platform as standard. All you need is a valid license when before you needed to purchase the service separately in Sitecore App Center. Due to the access to legacy devices, the database for Sitecore XP 8.x has been stopped on 30 March 2018, you probably work now with a static database of devices and very likely miss the latest device updates.

5. New Forms module

The Sitecore Forms module allows you to create and manage forms of any complexity in a significantly improved interface. It also allows Sitecore users to be tied into forms with marketing automation.

6. Azure PaaS hosting

The full utilisation of the Azure PaaS hosting option significantly improves the environment and reduces maintenance efforts and costs, and allows you to scale the hosting infrastructure up and down automatically depending on the traffic demand.

7. Sitecore support

Mainstream support of Sitecore 8.2 ends on 31 December 2019 and it is critical for any business solution to have the full coverage of Sitecore support including patches and ad-hoc fixes.

8. Sitecore JSS framework

Use of Sitecore JSS tools to build fully-fledged solutions using Sitecore and modern JavaScript UI libraries and frameworks; supports the development of headless JavaScript applications with the power of Sitecore.

9. Optimised Sitecore performance

Optimised Sitecore performance and improved marketing features including Sitecore analytics and reporting services.

10. AI

Ability to enable AI features in Sitecore to move marketing possibilities to the next level, for example Cortex (omni-channel user profiles), Machine Learning (predictions around end-users behaviour for smart campaigns through better understanding which user cohorts are missed).

11. Sitecore Host

The possibility to employ Sitecore Host, a new platform for all Sitecore services built on .NET Core which allows you to run Sitecore background tasks outside of the main CM and CD roles.

It is recommended to employ a Publishing Service introduced as a  replacement of the ordinary Sitecore publishing methods to increase publishing throughput, reduce the amount of time spent publishing large volumes of data and improve publishing reliability.

Additional enhancements with Sitecore 9.2

Sitecore version 9.2 offers the following enhancements, in addition to the above list:

  • Search improvements - Sitecore 9.2 offers a more advanced Sitecore Search provider which works with Solr and Azure Search engines
  • Full integration of JSS with Sitecore Forms
  • The improved Sitecore Host offers greater data consistency and reliability
  • YAML-format for data serialisation
  • Tracking improvements by reducing the number of requests sent to xConnect and Session:end optimisation
  • Enhanced reporting dashboard

How to Approach an Upgrade

The decision to upgrade can be very challenging for many businesses, especially when their existing Sitecore 8.x sites perform well with a strong ROI ratio.

The below is a guide for companies considering a Sitecore upgrade to better understand the advantages of Sitecore 9.x and to help them choose what’s best for their business objectives.

Your Options

There are two common options - upgrade and rebuild, creating a tough dilemma.

Both will lead to similar end results, but through contrasting journeys with different amounts of effort. Technology evolves very rapidly nowadays and, therefore, you shouldn’t assume that the ordinary upgrade operation will transform the original implementation into the code base and be fully compatible with the latest technology stack.

Therefore, if you choose to follow the upgrade route then you have to accompany it by the extended code refactoring alongside the upgrade, otherwise, you risk never unlocking the new Sitecore features such as advanced forms, xConnect, Machine Learning (AI), Identity Server, full PaaS hosting and others. Of course, this decision requires significant development efforts and as such should be supported by strong business needs.

Our Recommendation

Our recommendation is to take the opportunity to rethink the data structure, assess the entire solution architecture and hosting strategies during the Sitecore 9 upgrade journey, and consider the application rebuild to get the most of Sitecore 9 and align it with industry standards.

It won’t cancel the existing build entirely and you can reuse some of your existing code better as you will be bringing it to the new solution in a selective manner, section by section.

We believe that the rebuild approach will be more effective towards the Sitecore 9 best practices implementation, and will help to get rid of the technical constraints inherited from the Sitecore 8 solution.

The Possible Drawbacks of Not Upgrading

It is important to evaluate everything carefully. Not upgrading will mean you have to keep using outdated features which have been hugely improved in the latest version. As such you could encounter possible drawbacks including:

  • No Sitecore global support.
  • The inability to use the new and advanced Sitecore Forms instead of the old Sitecore Web Forms for Marketers.
  • Using older ways of integrating with third-party systems.
  • Missing out on advanced features such as xConnect, Machine Learning (AI), Identity Server, full PaaS hosting, Sitecore Host to improve content publishing, fast development with SxA and JSS.
  • Missing out on configuring personalisation using MS SQL for data instead of MongoDB.
  • The need to develop GDPR compliance functionality from scratch, which is possible out of the box in the latest version.
  • Not getting a chance to use the latest marketing features which are only available in Sitecore 9.
  • A library of outdated devices for previews.

Hopefully with the above recommendations you and your team should be on the right path with the right toolsets to support the automation of site builds and the testing and deployment of code. If you need any further advice, why not drop our team of experts a line on: hello@deleteagency.com.