Tridion Sites 9 - How to upgrade?

As you may know, SDL has announced that Tridion Sites 9 will be released by the end of this year. The prepare us for the upcoming release SDL has scheduled a series of webinars. The first one is about Technical Readiness: what is required and what are the options to upgrade?

There are a lot of improvements: better cloud support (DB), experience optimization (XO) and rolling upgrades scenarios with zero downtime.

Requirements & software versions

As always, there are two sides:

  • Content Manager side (windows only)
  • Content Delivery side (now a.k.a. Unified Delivery Platform / UDP)

Start with CM requirements: Windows 8.1 (and higher), .NET Framework 4.7.2, Java 8.

The CD requirements: same as CM, but also including support for Linux RHEL 6.9/7.4.

Both sides support the following DB storages: SQL Server Azure, Amazon RDS, MS SQL Server 2016SP1 / 2017

XO: Experience Optimization

On the UDP side, there is a new module available: eXperience Optimization. XO enables prescriptive personalization with relevant content. There will be a webinar around this topic. For now, all you should know is that you need to install Elastic Search (5.5 and higher) on UDP side to make it available.

Upgrading to Sites 9

SDL really wants to make it easier to upgrade to reduce risk and costs with zero downtime. Upgrade paths available from Tridion 2013SP1 HR2 and up.

Staged upgrade scenario is changed (including rolling upgrades). This was CD first and CM later. Now it is switched to CM first, since CD is often out-scaled and can be run side-by-side. Upgrading mainly consists of these steps: upgrade CM datastore, upgrade CM instance. Install Elastic Search for XO. Upgrade UDP datastore and UDP microservices. 

Rolling upgrades is now supported and has major benefits:

  • no downtime
  • no content freeze
  • upgrade CM database from web 8 to sites 9. Database keeps working with web 8 due to backwards compatibility.
  • upgrade a single CM instance to Sites 9 to test for issues
  • upgrade CD database and keep microservices running on web 8. And upgrade service by service to sites 9.
  • easier and less costly to upgrade

Important facts to keep in mind:

  • Upgraded CM database is backward compatible with Web 8.5
  • UDP microservices can do rolling upgrades from Web 8.5 to Sites 9
  • SDL is working on Docker container support

Other improvements

There were several other improvements mentioned:

  • High availability support for CM: removed local file storage dependencies (like MM types, Custom Pages and AM)
  • Audience Manager synchronization
  • Out-scaling the deployer service in active/active mode. (AFAIK was already part of SDL Web 8.5, but has now more performance)
  • SAML 2.0 Support in Web UIs for single-sign-on
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