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Why Sitecore upgrades are a must

by Michael O'Laughlin, Erik Carron, Vinu Krishnaswamy, Stephanie Petrusha October 11, 2022

Love them or hate them, upgrades are a necessary part of any software product. A leader in digital experience solutions, Sitecore is continually innovating to provide better functionality for customers. As richer technologies with improved feature sets are introduced, more mature or outmoded versions also naturally reach the end of their lifecycle.

Having upgraded more than 20 sites to newer versions of Sitecore over the last couple of years, we at One North have learned a thing or two about why upgrades are so critical, the impact they have on the overall experience you’re delivering, and how best to position and prepare yourself for a successful upgrade.

Upgrades are tricky

The fact is, upgrades are time-consuming and complex. Upgrading Sitecore itself is not hard; however, the process of integrating it with third-party modules—many containing thousands of pages with specific functionality—is challenging. At One North, we have a team expressly focused on Sitecore upgrades. Because we do upgrades on the regular, we know the nuances and have developed a proprietary process for making it as painless as possible. Additionally, as a hosting provider for a majority of our Sitecore clients, our upgrade and hosting teams closely collaborate to ensure a seamless transition.

Key benefits

Although software upgrades may feel like a nuisance, they’re integral to ensuring your marketing technology ecosystem is working as hard as possible for you, and they provide many benefits.

Better security

We can’t stress enough how crucial security is. When a site gets hacked, not only does it wreak havoc, but your customers also lose confidence in your brand. As vulnerabilities are discovered on supported versions, Sitecore alerts customers and releases a security patch, which helps to mitigate any potential risk and keeps sites built on its platform secure.

Continued support

As products reach the end of their lifecycle, they are no longer supported by Sitecore, which means important updates, like the previously mentioned security patches, are no longer offered. Sitecore does make it easy to ensure you remain on a protected version by publishing its product support lifecycle and support phases. Our team helps remind clients when their current Sitecore version is reaching the end of its lifecycle with plenty of time to start preparing for an upgrade, so they’re never at risk of running on an unsupported version.

New functionality

Updates add new features and improve existing ones. When making the jump to a new Sitecore version, it’s a great time to consider these additional features and how you can benefit from adding them into your digital marketing plan. Many of these features aren’t turnkey and require additional support and strategy to implement. As a Sitecore Gold Implementation Partner, One North has the expertise to advise clients on how to use the latest and most advanced features, so they make the most out of their investment.

Enhanced performance

Even better, when upgrades are made, performance improves—sometimes by as much as 100 percent. The application runs smoother, and the overall site loads faster, which is also great for SEO.

Planning ahead

On average, an upgrade takes 2-4 months to complete, so it’s important to plan and prepare. Our team shares Sitecore end-of-life dates with clients at least a year in advance to allow upgrades to be added to budget forecasting, and to help clients coordinate the effort with larger brand/design initiatives when possible.

In fact, upgrades can be a catalyst for getting a site redesign underway. You don’t want to spend extra time and money implementing an upgrade if you’re already planning a relaunch down the road. By working together, our team helps clients optimize their upgrade plan, so it’s aligned with their overall digital marketing strategy and plan.

If you’ve been considering an upgrade to a newer version of Sitecore, or your current Sitecore version is nearing a support end date, One North’s dedicated upgrade team can help.

Michael O'Laughlin
Director, QA & Managed Applications

As Director, QA & Managed Applications, Michael is responsible for delivering One North digital experiences to clients and creating both web applications and custom data integration solutions. Michael’s favorite Chicago spot is the United Center, watching the Hawks in the playoffs.

Erik Carron

As an Architect at One North, Erik provides technical assistance to new and ongoing client projects. He brings his wide range of technical expertise and experience to his role. Erik graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Computer Engineering.

Fun fact: My first name is John, however, I go by my middle name Erik.

Coach Erik: I coach the boys lacrosse team at Downers Grove South High School.

Vinu Krishnaswamy
Director, Solutions Architecture

Vinu is the Director of Solutions Architecture at One North, defining technical architecture for complex marketing/IT systems and products, acting as a technology consultant for clients and working with One North’s Strategy and Design teams to define and implement solutions that will serve the client’s objectives now and in the future.

Stephanie Petrusha

As an Architect, Stephanie provides clients with quality products and services to ensure 100 percent satisfaction, continuously working to find best-in-breed technology to improve testing capabilities and solution performance.

Favorite breakfast food: Pancakes all day!

Most unusual job: Growing up on a farm, every summer from about age 10 I was a “bean walker.” A bean walker walks down a designated row in a bean field with a hook and cuts out weeds from the fields. This job of course no longer exists thanks to technology and chemicals.