What you need to know about upgrading to Sitecore 7.5 and Sitecore 8.0

With Sitecore 7.5 newly released and the Sitecore 8.0 Experience Platform to follow soon many wonder how to upgrade Sitecore from their current version of Sitecore to the latest version.  If you already have Sitecore 7.2 installed and are upgrading to 7.5, only one release version, the upgrade process is rather simple, but upgrading from more than one version behind, such as 7.1, 6.6 and older versions, the process is more protracted.
Each release contains several packages, including an Initial Release package.  All Initial Release packages from previous major releases must be installed before continuing to the next version.  Once the current and target versions are determined, you’re advised to map out a method, establish needed versions, and determine an order of installation.
For example, if I were to upgrade from Sitecore 6.1 to Sitecore 7.5, then I would progress through the following steps:

  1. 6.1 – My original version
  2. 6.2 – Install Initial Release + Service Packs
  3. 6.3 – Install Initial Release + Service Packs
  4. 6.4 – Install Initial Release + Service Packs
  5. 6.5 – Install Initial Release + Service Packs
  6. 6.6 – Install Initial Release + Service Packs
  7. 7.0 – Install Initial Release + Service Packs
  8. 7.1 – Install Initial Release + Service Packs
  9. 7.2 – Install Initial Release + Service Packs
  10. 7.5 – My targeted version + Service Packs

The four levels of versioning, feature releases, updates, service packs and hot fixes, may cause ambiguity in your upgrade steps, so it is important to understand versions before installation.  Feature releases and service packs are imperative and are required for version upgrades.  Updates and hotfixes are optional and are recommended to only be downloaded if they include fixes for specific issues that might impact the user.
Throughout the upgrade process, you may consider maintaining a spreadsheet checklist with upgrade information in order to keep a repeatable process.  Once prerequisite versions are determined and user applications and database are backed up, then the install may begin.  Next, the initial release package(s) and target version should be installed, and once complete, should simply follow the steps on the targeted version SDN page to complete the process.  The SDN documentation is insightful, straightforward, and will making the procedure clear as possible.
If you’re planning on taking advantage of everything the Sitecore Experience Platform has you should start your upgrade to Sitecore 7.5 now.  Once Sitecore 8 is released, if you already have 7.5 you will simply need to run the update installation wizard and follow the update instructions on Sitecore SDN.

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