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Part 1: The concepts involved in an upgrade/migration

So, you’ve decided to move to EPiServer 7?

Good for you!

Now you're facing the challenge of packing up and moving from your current site - deciding what to keep, what to refactor, and what to throw away. Not just content-wise, but also in terms of templates, plugins, user accounts and editor interfaces. 

Your current site might not even be on EPiServer, which adds some extra spice. So in broad strokes, here are some of the challenges you need to plan for.

Development environment

  • Do you have access to old versions of Windows / Windows Server / SQL Server / Oracle required to set up a working development environment for EPiServer 4/5/6?
  • Do you have access to the source code for the old site?
  • Do you have access to the edit/admin interface of the old site so you can get an overview of how pagetypes and the editorial interface are configured?
  • Do you have access to the old web server so you can retrieve the site files and file archive?
  • Do you have access to (a backup of) the old database? Is the database format/vendor compatible with EPiServer 7, or will you have to write scripts to export your data to a usable format?

User accounts & access rights

  • Find out how to transfer user accounts and passwords. Are your user accounts based on the .NET membership provider model, or will you have to export from another provider format? 
  • Will passwords be included when you transfer user accounts? Are encryption formats compatible with EPiServer 7 or will you need to generate all new passwords?
  • If you need to generate new passwords for the users, how will you introduce the new login regime without inconveniencing your users/customers?
  • Do you need to migrate roles/groups and access rights, or can this be manually recreated in your new site?

Content

  • Prioritize! Clean up the site tree as much as possible. 
  • Do you need to migrate entire archives of old content? This could help you decide whether it's feasible to migrate content manually or if you need to do an export/import.
  • Are you doing an upgrade (i.e. database will be reused) or a migration (i.e. new database, content will have to be imported or copy/pasted)?
  • Make sure the client is informed how much manual editorial work (copy-pasting / moving content) is required of them, and at what time in the process they are required to do their part. Remember, they need to schedule available resources for this before the site goes live.

Pagetypes & properties

  • Decide which pagetypes should be migrated and which should be discontinued. 
  • Map the properties of your old pagetypes to the required properties of your new pagetypes.
  • Make sure the data types of your old properties are compatible with (or convertible to) your new properties.
  • If you're using Web Parts, Composer or similar dynamic page composition tools, will you migrate those, reformat them as static content, or convert them to the Blocks concept in EPiServer 7?

Links & SEO

  • Remember, when you're cleaning up your site tree and restructuring your content, you will invalidate lots of links to your site. 
  • Make sure you handle changed URLs with the correct response codes. 301s for permanent redirects, and 404s for removed content. EPiServer doesn't handle this very well out of the box, but there are several suitable plugins.
  • Also make sure you take time to fix your internal links to pages and documents. Don't let all that link juice get away!
  • Make sure you provide search spiders with an updated sitemap.

Plugins

  • Find out which plugins are compatible with EPiServer 7. Are they still supported by the plugin developers? Is there a newer version available? Will you be able to migrate your plugin data/settings to the newer plugin version?
  • Will you require a new/upgraded license for the plugins you're using?
  • Find out if any plugins are obsolete. You might be carrying around unused or one-time-use plugins that are no longer relevant.
  • Find out if any plugins can be replaced by built-in functionality in the new EPiServer version, or by a better plugin.

Tools to help you upgrade or migrate your site

Once you've started planning, you'll pretty quickly find yourself thinking about the technical side of the migration process. 

In part 3, we'll take a look at some of the tools available to help you upgrade or migrate your site to EPiServer 7.