CMS (or DXPs – Digital eXperience Platforms – as the industry has srtarted to call them) are becoming more and more powerful every day. In addition to serving as the face of the entity’s digital presence, they also provide a central platform for creating, editing, and publishing content, as well as managing user permissions, and performing other administrative tasks. On account of this, they are integrated into many of the organizations systems as well as the supporting services (order management, CRM, martech, reporting, etc.). Upgrading a CMS can create issues with integrations to all these other systems, causing major problems for an organization.
Why Upgrading a CMS can cause Integration Issues?
CMS platforms are continuously becoming more and more complex systems that interact with other software solutions and external services. They serve as the central conduit for content as well as a major manager of workflows. They are also deeply embedded with all eCommerce functionalities, all the way from Product Information management (PIM), through catalog management, storefronts, etc. Wit all this complexity, when upgrading a CMS, it is not uncommon for integration issues to arise. These issues can be caused by several factors, including changes in the API, deprecated features, and custom code. Let’s explore some of these factors in more detail.
When a CMS is upgraded, the API may change, and this can cause issues with integrations that rely on the old API. For example, a third-party plugin may not function correctly if the API is changed, leading to broken functionality or errors. In some cases, the API may be completely replaced with a new version, which requires significant changes to integrations. Additionally, connectors, which might have been developed for the older version, may be at odds with the APIs of the new version. The dependencies of the various connectors could trickle down the impact of the changed APIs all the way to different systems, and parts of the digital ecosystem.
CMS platforms are constantly evolving, and features that were available in older versions may be deprecated in newer versions. Deprecated features are those that have been marked for removal in future versions. When a feature is deprecated, it means that it will no longer be supported in future versions, and integrations that rely on the feature may break. For example, a third-party plugin may rely on a deprecated feature to function correctly. When the CMS is upgraded, the deprecated feature may no longer be available, causing the plugin to malfunction.
Not to sound like a broken record, but CMS platforms are constantly evolving, and features that were not available in older versions and relied on a third-party plugin, external service, etc. might be replaced by a feature that is now included in the new version of the CMS. This might place it at odds with the integrations that relied in the past on capabilites provided by those third-party plugins, external services, etc. In turn this will cause a break in the flow and communication of that area.
Custom code is code that has been added to a CMS to provide additional functionality. When a CMS is upgraded, custom code may not be compatible with the new version, leading to integration issues. For example, custom code may be written to interact with a specific version of an API or Platform. For example, Sitecore, Optimizely, and Umbraco are all based on the .NET framework. When the CMS is upgraded, the API may change, and the custom code may no longer function correctly. This can cause integrations to fail or result in errors.
How to Avoid Integration Issues when Upgrading a CMS?
Now that we have explored the reasons why upgrading a CMS can cause integration issues, let’s look at how to avoid these issues.
Research and Plan
Before upgrading a CMS, it is important to research and plan the upgrade carefully. This includes understanding the changes that will be made to the API and identifying any deprecated features. It is also important to identify any custom code that may be affected by the upgrade. By doing this, you can plan for any necessary changes to integrations before the upgrade is performed.
Test and Verify
Testing and verifying integrations before and after the CMS upgrade is critical to avoiding integration issues. This includes testing integrations that rely on the API and those that use custom code. Testing should be performed on a staging environment that replicates the production environment as closely as possible. This allows you to identify and fix any issues before the upgrade is performed on the live environment.
It is important to have a partner (not being subtle here, but I’m thinking NashTech ) that has centuries of accumulated experience in implementation and testing, that would assist in covering all these areas and ensure a more seamless upgrade.