Handy dandy tool for sharing Sitecore instances

Often while working on projects, a team member may ask you to share your local Sitecore instance with them. Or you might even want to expose your local site to an external service for performance testing/analysis. There is a handy dandy tool that makes this really easy, ngrok. Using secure tunnels ngrok exposes local sites behind NATs and firewalls to the public internet. By connecting to the ngrok cloud service which accepts traffic on a public address and relays that traffic through to the ngrok process running on your machine and then on to the local address you specify.

There are various plans available including a free plan which supports:

  • HTTP/TCP tunnels on random URLs/ports
  • 1 online ngrok process
  • 4 tunnels/ngrok process
  • 40 connections / minute

localsitecore

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Planning your Sitecore 9 upgrade?

With support for Sitecore 8.2 coming to an end 31st Dec 2019, several clients are planning their migration to Sitecore 9 if they have not done so already. This post describes the process and some of the tasks involved in upgrading from Sitecore 8x.

There are two main approaches when upgrading you might consider:
1. Upgrade existing instances – the upgrade is performed against the existing instances and rolled out to all environments.
Pros:

  • Additional infrastructure is not required for the upgrade

Cons:

  • Usually Requires a code freeze while the upgrade is rolled out to all environments.
  • Unanticipated Issues can arise during the upgrade that can cause delays in the development lifecycle.

2. Clean Approach – setup a clean environment and clean Sitecore instances, migrate data.

Pros:

  • Upgraded and tested in isolation of the current production instance.
  • Provides an opportunity to upgrade the OS & SQL.
  • Easily rollback if issues occur.
  • Code freeze to existing solution not required for the entire duration of the upgrade and bug fixes and new features can be rolled out and worked on in parallel to the upgrade.

Cons:

  • Additional Infrastructure is required for the new environments to run in parallel. We would need to spin up new servers to support the new environment as these would be running on different versions of the operating system and version of software to meeting the requirements of Sitecore 9.
  • We will have the additional overhead of managing two sets of environments for a period of time while.

The clean approach effectively means you a Sitecore 8x environment – current site and a brand new Sitecore 9 environment – for the upgraded site.

Once you have switched over to 9 you can decommission the old environment. Continue reading

Load Testing with JMeter Advanced

In my previous post in this series on load testing I provided an introduction to JMeter to help get you started in this post I’ll explore the following topics and provide solutions to some challenges you may come across while creating your load tests.

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Load Testing made easy with JMeter

In my previous post, I looked at the importance of load testing. In this next post in this series on load testing, I will show you how to use JMeter to create a simple load test, take a look at the various JMeter’s components and some features you should familiarize yourself with to help make load testing easy.

  • JMeter is a Java application as a pre-requisite you will need to install the latest 64bit JDK or JRE.
  • Download the latest binaries and unzip to a directory, for example, c:\jmeter.
  • To run navigate to the \bin directory and run Jmeter.bat or if you are on a mac jmeter.sh.

JMeter UI overview

The UI is divided into three main functional areas:

  1. Menu bar – provides access to a lot of the main functions and provides relevant information to current running tests.
  2. Left panel – contains a hierarchical tree view of one or more test plans and the various components contained in the plans.
  3. Right Panel – this is where you will spend most of your time configuring various components or viewing any associated output from components contained in plans.

jmeter5ui

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How to Prevent DEF from creating Duplicate items in Sitecore

I ran into an issue with Sitecore’s Data Exchange Framework v1.4.1 where my pipeline batches would intermittently create thousands of duplicate Sitecore items. This caused a bit of management overhead having to clean out the duplicates.  Following some investigation, I decided to add some defensive coding by introducing a Custom Resolve Sitecore Item Processor to replace Sitecore’s OOTB pipeline step and prevent duplicates from being created.

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Measuring performance under load.

Load testing allows you to gather metrics on the performance and behavior of your application under normal or anticipated peak load conditions. This not only helps you make educated decisions about your application and environment but provides a level of confidence your users should not experience a degradation in performance or worse an outage. By being proactive and making course corrections when issues are encountered during tests.

It involves putting sufficient load on an application while it remains up and running so you are able to gather metrics about the applications performance and the environment. These metrics should include things like throughput-rates, response times, memory consumption and CPU utilization.

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