The Sitecore XM Cloud Series: Making migration easy

This is the second in a two part series from our Engineering Team.

Designed to tell you everything you need to know about Sitecore's XM Cloud: a headless content management system that is a foundation for a composable digital experience platform.

Leading on from our previous blog post about building a business case for moving to Sitecore’s XM Cloud, here we go into some more detail on what that migration might look like – and different options that you could take. 

This is a relatively high-level overview, so if you would like to understand your options in more detail then always, please get in touch with us.

Where’s your head at?

The first and most logical place to start would be to understand the type of platform you currently have – and this applies as much to an existing Sitecore XM/XP implementation as it does to a platform built with non-Sitecore technology.

Specifically, websites that are built using headless technology are significantly easier to migrate or re-platform to XM Cloud. This is because XM Cloud is natively headless.

One of the greatest advantages of having a headless website platform is that it is easier to change the CMS that powers the content behind the scenes, compared to more traditional websites where the CMS itself is responsible for rendering out the pages.

If you have a headless website already, you’re one step ahead; if you have a Sitecore headless website, even better, as the CMS integration technology is largely the same.

If you’re not currently using headless, then you are going to need to rebuild your front-end. This is a really good opportunity to modernise your front-end and ensure that it is not only built with modern tooling, but that it meets accessibility, security and sustainability standards in addition to delivering a good user experience.

Set a benchmark

We’d then recommend carrying out some testing to establish benchmarks you can measure the new platform against. This could cover a range of areas:

  • Performance and load testing
  • Security testing
  • Accessibility testing
  • Sustainability testing

Which of those make the most sense will depend on your current platform and the migration approach you’re going to take.

For example, if the objective is to simply ‘lift and shift’ your current headless website onto XM Cloud, there may be some inherent performance benefits you’ll be able to realise – but the accessibility posture will be largely the same; you’ll be keeping the existing UI / UX.

However, if you’re aiming for a bit more of a dramatic overhaul of what you’ve currently got – and a re-platforming is a great opportunity to do this – then it would make sense to benchmark as much as possible so you can quantify all the positive improvements you’re going to make!

Define the migration approach

The migration approach will likely vary depending on your organisation and the type of work you do on your website platform.

Some organisations have relatively static/unchanging websites, which are good candidates for migrating in one go onto XM Cloud. Other organisations have very dynamic websites that are constantly changing. Those often require a more nuanced, complex approach as it would be infeasible to stop all work in order to migrate to XM Cloud. 

For example, if your website can be divided logically into sections, it might make more sense to adopt a gradual move to XM Cloud by migrating one section at a time.

You can use a variety of tools to route traffic between two separate systems – for example, Sitecore XP and XM Cloud – in a way that means to end users, it’s all just one website. This is a good strategy for implementing an incremental migration to XM Cloud – shift across a section at a time.

Whether you adopt that approach or not, you will end up paying for XM Cloud at the same time as Sitecore XP, so we would encourage as much meticulous planning as possible to minimise the time you’ll be dual-running both systems.

Preparing for migration

There are several things you can do in advance of a move to XM Cloud that will make it easier when the time comes.

As already mentioned, if your websites are already headless, that’s a significant chunk of effort out of the way. If they’re not, it might be worth thinking about starting to rebuild your front ends using headless technology. If you’re already on Sitecore XM/XP, rebuilding your front end and using Sitecore JSS will put you in a great position for that migration over to XM Cloud.

If you’re using some of Sitecore XP’s more advanced features such as personalisation, while XM Cloud has some basic personalisation features built in, it doesn’t have full feature parity with XP. One thing you could do is migrate your existing personalisation over to Sitecore Personalise – that works very nicely with XM Cloud and will ensure you don’t lose out on functionality when you migrate to XM Cloud.

Be bold

The temptation is always to move everything from your incumbent system over to the new one – even if you overhaul the UI/UX, organisations will often choose to migrate all their content wholesale.

This is a potential missed opportunity to massively simplify your website content and information architecture. When we recently re-platformed the Royal Navy to a Sitecore-powered headless website, we worked with them to drastically reduce the volume of content which resulted in a much leaner, more focused website that was better in line with the requirements of their audience.

Lifting and shifting all existing content, which has probably existed for a while, simply means that your website will be in line with the requirements of the incumbent website, not the new one. 

Test, test and test

Make sure that you are testing your XM Cloud website long before it’s ready to go-live. Postponing performance, load, accessibility, security and sustainability testing runs the risks of finding out about issues when it’s too late to meaningfully do anything about them.

Build this kind of testing into your development process – preferably automated – and you’ll get early sight of any issues, and early sight of how much faster and more efficient your new website is!

Ensuring you have KPIs set for all the various metrics associated with this type of testing means you can track how well you’re doing against them, and take any action to rectify sooner – which is more cost efficient.

Need a hand?

We're Sitecore Gold Partners and we've been implementing complex Sitecore solutions with ease for over a decade. So if you'd like some support or guidance on your next technical project, speak to the team.

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