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The Sitecore 8.2 Update 1—the beginning of our cloud journey with Microsoft Azure

By Ryan Donovan , Monday, December 5, 2016

With the release of Sitecore 8.2 Update 1, our cloud strategy with Microsoft Azure is now in full swing. Based upon the partnership announced in July 2016, both company’s product teams have worked hand in hand to deliver a native, fully optimized version of the Sitecore® Experience Platform™ running on top of Azure App Service. 

Built natively for Azure
Under the hood, we have rewritten many core elements of the Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) to natively leverage Azure. Key changes include:

  • Replacing our session state provider (which is currently based on SQL Server or MongoDB) to leverage Azure Redis Cache, which provides the most performant and scalable solution for session management in Azure. This benefit also can apply to on-premise customers who also desire to setup Redis in their data centers.
  • Adding Azure Search to our repertoire of Search Providers. Azure Search is the only fully managed and scalable search solution in Azure that does not rely upon VM-based technologies. 
  • Replacing our diagnostics logging and performance counters with Azure Application Insights. Azure Application Insights provides extremely deep diagnostics, performance analysis, monitoring, and alerting. Application Insights provides the most comprehensive toolset available to monitor and analyze the health and performance of a Sitecore deployment without deep investments in third-party solutions.
  • Native support for Web Apps as part of the Azure App Service, with the ability to easily scale up and out, as well as a full lifecycle continuous deployment solution with Git, TFS, GitHub, and Visual Studio Team Services. Auto-scaling is also supported by metric depending on the limits you configure.
  • Full support for SQL Azure in lieu of SQL Server, including the many performance and scale benefits of running in a fully managed cloud environments.

These changes, when combined with the choice of MongoDB solutions on Azure (e.g., mLab, Bitnami, or a native deployment), allow our customers and partners to have an absolutely seamless experience in the cloud

Sitecore on the Azure Marketplace
To help customers get started quickly, Sitecore is now available in the Azure Marketplace on a bring-your-own-license basis. If you have valid credentials to the Azure Management portal here's a direct link. Available at outset is our XM1 edition optimized for to up to 100,000 visits per month. If you need to go bigger, you can scale the deployment through the Azure Management portal. 

Within a few weeks, XP1 will also be available (though you will have to setup MongoDB separately). The process is incredibly simple—simply bring your license file, fill out a few dialogs, and within minutes, you will have a fully functional deployment.

We expect that Azure Marketplace will become the primary means of customers and partners consuming Sitecore on Azure.

International availability
Sitecore can be configured in many Azure regions, including:

  • East US
  • North Central US
  • West Central US
  • West US
  • North Europe (Ireland)
  • West Europe (Netherlands)
  • East Asia (Hong Kong)
  • Southeast Asia (Singapore)
  • Japan West
  • Brazil South
  • Australia East

Sitecore Provisioning SDK
For partners looking to build their own managed service offerings or customers demanding absolute control over their environments, the Provisioning SDK is now available. Inside of the Provisioning SDK are the Azure Resource Manager templates and Web Deploy packages for the XM1 and XP1 editions of Sitecore 8.2 Update 1, giving users of the Provisioning SDK full bare-metal control over how Sitecore is deployed on Azure.

And this is just the beginning…
8.2 Update 1 is just the beginning of our elevated partnership with Microsoft and our cloud journey together on Azure. We have a lot more coming very soon. We bring larger, more complex topologies for sites having > 100,000 monthly visits as well the other Sitecore modules into Azure Marketplace and the Provisioning SDK. Likewise, additional regions will be added as underlying technical dependencies (e.g., solutions for MongoDB, Azure Search) come online. Stay tuned…it’s going to be an amazing flight.


Ryan Donovan is SVP, Product Management, at Sitecore.

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