The University upgraded its Sitecore CMS in just one week. Having ½ million unique items and 800 editors working on content on a daily basis was no problem.

Syddansk Universitet (SDU) has more than 20,000 students and over 4,000 employees distributed among six campuses all over the country. Their website is strictly monitored and constantly updated due to the fact that universities in Denmark have a legal obligation to provide uninterrupted information to students about practical matters. SDU manages to keep its site content up-to-the-minute with the support of Sitecore’s content management system (CMS). The university is a content management enthusiast; and because of that it keeps upgrading its Sitecore CMS as soon as a new version is launched. What makes these upgrades special is that the SDU website has many documents, ½ million unique items and 800 editors working on content daily. How do they manage to upgrade their CMS versions without leaving students uninformed for one single day? The work is done during a summer vacations. In the newest upgrade, the University had only one week to go from an older Sitecore version to a more recent one. “It was a standard Sitecore installation, but an extreme one. It has proved the power of Sitecore´s software. You can scale up having 800 editors working and 10,000 users in the front end,” says Kurt Bilde, Administrative Officer at Syddansk Universitet.

Challenge

Syddansk Universitet worked closely with Sitecore´s partner Cabana to upgrade their CMS system. The goal was to take the exact same website into a new version and get rid of corrupt coding practices to stabilize the system.

Before the upgrade, the website content was not properly synchronized with their multiple web servers. Consequently, website visitors would see different content depending on which server they used to access the site. This inconsistency was clearly negatively affecting the user experience. “It was definitely a mature decision to upgrade the CMS system,” affirms Joachim Schiødtz, Chief Technology Officer at Cabana.

The SDU knew that moving from one Sitecore version to another would be a key project in which delays were not an option. This, and a host or other reasons, made them decide to continue using the Sitecore platform, which makes it possible for them to easily and timely install the latest CMS version, use patch updates and resolve any issues they might have in the system.

Solution

Syddansk Universitet has its own development department, which means that they can be very detail oriented when it comes to technology. Similarly, the 800 editors have an academic approach to the website and demand a system that works the way they are used to. Even a small change, such as return code, needs to be tailor made to satisfy both highly skilled developers and editors.Taking all of that into consideration, Sitecore and Cabana had their hands full in sweeping the system.

The main requirement from the university was: immediate access to all media files on all servers. For that, they extended the solution with a static media server, centralizing the handling of all files, images, and so on. They can now fill in data from XTP or Xcopy, as well as use the media library.

Because of the Sitecore CMS´s flexibility, even if their developers do not have file access and entry to the configuration, they can develop the solution by themselves.

Result

All issues were resolved in the upgraded Sitecore CMS framework. Cabana was able to get the entire infrastructure ready for the upgrade in only one week.  It was a major task to ensure that website visitors had access to updated documentation and that the SDU staff was trained to use the new version.

“When the SDU sees a possibility within Sitecore´s solution, they want to be the early adopters and use it to the extreme. We at Cabana ensure that they get what they want. For that, we count on Sitecore´s support system, which makes it possible for us to finish any upgrade on a very short deadline,” says Joachim Schiødtz, Chief Technology Officer at Cabana.