Thursday, July 29, 2010

What does Sitecore v6.3 Really Means?

So it used to be called the TwinPeaks release if you follow the Sitecore Roadmap but exactly what does it bring to the table?  There are some blogs already out regarding the release.  Alex Shyba showed how easy it is to cluster the CMS client (in fact he did 6 virtual servers in less than hour – follow him on Twitter to get more updates).  Oh yes, that’s what v6.3 really allows you to do (plus some other stuff that you should read on the release notes).  But as a business person, you might ask, so what?

Well, we know that enterprises (that’s the keyword) always need performance as one of the top requirements to be fast and efficient.  The Sitecore delivery engine (i.e. content delivery – CD servers) had always been keen to being clustered and allows you to load-balance them to achieve a pretty good performance.  And that’s important because Sitecore itself may use up to 30% of CPU utilization (that’s what I’ve heard a while back in v5).  So making sure that the site visitors are experiencing beautiful user interactions while delivering them promptly can be a tough achievement if you don’t load-balance your delivery servers.  Almost all implementations nowadays have this requirement and should now be something that you should be aware of.

Sitecore v6.3 brings a new level performance except it’s not on the delivery side of things but more on the authoring side.  With v6.3, IT can now load-balance the CMS client allowing for better responsiveness.  It introduces the Event Queue which Adam Conn of Sitecore blogged about (it even has a nice video). Essentially, it is like a recipe whereby if you want to replicate your mom’s cooking again and again, you follow the recipe.  In a way, v6.3 CMS client servers look at the queue to see what else need to be done and thus become “in synch” with the other servers. 

As a business person, should I care about this?  I say yes because now there’s more freedom on how Sitecore is deployed geographically.  For international companies, this makes maintaining Web site more effective.  Also, this becomes an ammunition to having a more globalized management of Web sites.  Sitecore had been an eye-candy for managing globalized content because of translations, languages, publishing capabilities; but, there’s always that feeling that it’s really hard to distribute authorship because of geographical distances.  With v6.3, this fear or concern is minimized because performance (and reliability) becomes less of an issue. 

I’m hoping that corporations will now feel comfortable bringing in your international sites into one platform, that is Sitecore.  The only thing that I think that you need to be cautious is how those other systems going to integrate with your Web site and allow them to be “load-balanceable” as well.  I’ll leave you with this but one hint is to consider Sitecore not just a CMS but also as a foundational technical platform for other capabilities.


  1. Great perspective on 6.3, Marco! I'd like to add a couple of benefits that also provide business value.

    You mentioned CM clustering, which means you can have multiple CM servers. Another benefit of supporting multiple CM servers is that a CM server can be identified as being responsible for handling publishing: dedicated publishing servers, in other words. One of the services provided by a WCM system that has the largest impact on performance is publishing. Publishing can affect the performance on the rest of the system, and the rest of the system can affect performance of publishing. By having the servers in a cluster delegate publishing to a separate server, this can improve performance of both publishing and content editing.

    As you noted, CM clustering is important for organizations with content authors spread across locations. Authors in North America can access a server in the US, while authors in Europe can access a server in France. You described the benefit of locating servers closer to the users. This is possible through support for SQL Server database replication. This means that not only can the Sitecore servers be located closer to the users, so can the database server itself.

    While the CM environment rightfully deserves attention, the content delivery (CD) environment hasn't been neglected. Some publishing enhancements have been added, making publishing to a multi-server CD environment much easier to configure and control.

    Why should a business user care? If you find yourself slammed with an unexpected surge in site activity and need to add capacity in a hurry, you don't need to worry that adding Sitecore servers will require an entire project team. In fact, the CM environment doesn't need to be modified at all with Sitecore 6.3. From a technical perspective, you add a Sitecore server to the CD cluster and you're ready to go.

    Finally, let's not forget Azure (cloud) support. For customers concerned with performance and scalability options, this is hot. This takes the scalability possibilities mentioned above to a whole new level. If you haven't already done so, you should definitely check out an interview Sitecore co-founder Lars Nielsen -

  2. I really like the support for additional CD servers without much fuss. That makes planning for infrastructure much easier since now the client is not committed to purchasing tons of hardware. The client can now "test" the waters and add hardware when needed. Although that that was possible before, the new enhancements make it a lot easier.

    With the Cloud support, I'm really excited about as it does bring it to the next level. I'm not sure how this affects licensing in the future as I know some other CMS'es charge differently in the Cloud.