Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sitecore’s Recommended Version Policy

People often ask me about Sitecore’s recommended version policy.

Some people seem to think that only the “recommended version” must be a stable release and all others must be considered “pre-release, unstable” software.

This is a misunderstanding that I’d like to take a moment to clear up.

To understand our recommended version policy, it’s important to remember that people install Sitecore CMS for many different reasons. Here are a few examples. A given Sitecore CMS installation may serve as…
  • …a development environment for a web site that may take several weeks or months to reach deployment.
     
  • …a mission critical web site for one of our many customers.
     
  • …a training web site that helps a developer become familiar with the product.
Our recommended version policy is focused on production installations running mission critical web sites for our customers.

As many of you know, Sitecore leverages a very agile development approach. As such, we release a fairly steady stream of improvements to the product as updates and feature releases. We know, however, that this constant stream of upgrades can place a burden on system administrators, who may find themselves thinking, “Should I install this newest update?”

We’ve done a lot to make the experience of upgrading a Sitecore release as easy as possible, but we also know that there are other factors involved when deciding whether to upgrade or not. The old adage of not fixing things that “ain’t broke” works well for production environments. Our recommended release policy is designed to help reduce risk for our customers and limit the number of upgrades that we recommend.

When we release a new version of our CMS product, we typically do not make this the recommended version immediately. This is to indicate that, for production environments where Sitecore already works well, there is no need to rush to perform an upgrade to the new release.

Not all releases are destined to become a recommended version at some point. Periodically, based on experience with a set of releases, we choose a later version to become the new recommended release. In this process of promoting a specific release to a recommended version, we work closely with teams within Sitecore as well as with our developer / partner community.

For new production environments, customers should think about the following questions:
  • Does a later, non-recommended version contain new features that my site requires?
     
  • Does a later, non-recommended version resolve known issues that may impact my site?
If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then it is indeed safe to use the later, non-recommended version. Sitecore fully supports and stands behind newly released versions that have not been designated “the” recommended release.

If the answer to both questions is no, then deploying on the recommended version probably makes sense, but discussing this with your partner or Sitecore representative is always a good idea.

I hope that this clears up some of the confusion. Overall, we’ve had very good experiences with the recommended version policy. Most customers appreciate the program and the clear differentiation between releases.

Of course, if you have any suggestions, we’re always interested in your input!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wanted to work with the latest version of Sitecore and I wanted to know, when a developer told that the version I said we should use is not recommended, he could not explain why.

Neither does this article because ti raises a number of questions.

a) Why do Sitecore release versions of products that are not recommend? Also ask - who else says, this is the latest but .. do not use it.

b) What version therefore is recommended. If I have never used Sitecore before why should I register to find out? Just tell me on your web site what I can use now.

c) If you are saying that a version - lets say some flavour of 6.5 is coming and I am in development so I take a non-recommended version for now - how do I know the timeline and release date of the good version and how do I remain confident that I can migrate to this newer version.

Recommendations

Please be positive about your product and tell me what is the good version.

Don't tell me a version is not recommended. Put the non-recommended version on you developer network and tell me what is the version I can use.

I would be embarrassed to repeat this blog to customers because if I think this is garbage I am sure they will think it is worse. Refer to the above.

I do appreciate a Danish company using the word "ain't". At least I know we are using proper English. Before you criticise - upper class Victorians invented the word and blamed the classes lower. So I will give you that my old "fruit and nutcase".

Sean said...

Where can I find which version is the current recommended version? This information is not easy to find on the SDN.

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