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Two Ways to Manage Episerver’s Continuous Release Cycle

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
#CMS, #Episerver
Published on August 3, 2015

We look at how website owners can take advantage of EPiServer's continuous release cycle to keep their website software up to date.

Historically, most software products are updated irregularly, with version numbers indicating major and minor releases. Users can install patches that fix errors or address security issues, but it can be difficult to keep track of releases, and upgrading to a new major release can often require a great deal of planning, as well as budgeting of time, resources, and money to complete the upgrade.

Luckily, for people who use the Episerver content management system (CMS), there’s a better way. One of the great benefits that Episerver provides is their continuous release cycle, in which updates and patches to the CMS are released every two weeks, allowing site owners to easily install patches and implement new features. The benefits of this process include:

  • A transparent path to speedy resolution of errors and issues.
  • The opportunity to try out new features. While Episerver does release seasonal updates, the production versions of new features that are included in these updates are made available in the bi-weekly releases.
  • The assurance that security issues are resolved quickly. Since patches are released every two weeks, Episerver is able to address security issues faster than even Microsoft, which only releases patches once a month.

While the continuous release cycle can quickly resolve errors and provide site owners with the latest features, how can you determine how much time and budget you should allocate towards implementing these releases? Let’s take a look at the process from two different perspectives:

Companies With an Internal Development Team

For organizations who have an internal team that maintains their website code, it makes sense for the team to install and implement Episerver’s updates on a pre-production tier of the website infrastructure on at least a monthly basis. This will give them a chance to test the upgrades against the current website build to determine whether any issues will occur.

Installing updates on a development server also allows for some testing to be done without having to burden internal stakeholder teams with User Acceptance Testing (UAT). Performing some initial testing in the development environment can help uncover issues and ensure that no essential site functionality will be affected without having to schedule a content freeze on the production site and going through a lengthy UAT process.

Once the development team has tested the updates and determined that they will provide value to their stakeholder teams, they can then proceed with upgrading the production website, involving the site authors and content editors in the UAT process and implementing the updates and new features.

Companies Without an Internal Development Team

For companies which do not have an internal development team, budgeting the time and resources required to upgrade their website can be a challenge. In addition to coordinating with internal stakeholders for content freezes and UAT, they will need to work with their development partner to perform the actual upgrades.

We have often discussed the importance of keeping CMS software up to date, which means that it is essential to have the mechanisms in place to regularly upgrade your CMS, including timeframes and budgets. Clients who have an ongoing monthly retainer find the upgrade process to be much less burdensome. In this model, most upgrades are pre-planned (e.g. once per quarter) and are handled as part of the regular retainer fees, without the need to budget for separate upgrade projects.

The alternative to these regular upgrades is a reactionary model, in which companies learn of issues or security holes that need to be patched in their outdated CMS, requiring work that must be done in a rush and be billed against a budget in which upgrades have not been allocated. This model is difficult to manage, and it often results in upgrades not being performed on time, leaving website issues and security concerns unresolved.

Staying Up to Date

Episerver’s continuous release process makes keeping your website up to date easier than ever. Companies who work with either internal or external development teams to implement these updates are able to make use of the latest features and ensure that any new security issues are not going to affect them. Managing these regular updates is essential for getting the best ROI for Episerver and the upcoming Digital Experience Cloud.

Do you have any questions for us about how to keep your Episerver website up to date? Do you want to know more about the continuous release process? Please contact us to speak with a Solutions Engineer, or feel free to share a comment below. Thanks for reading!