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SUGCON 2019: Day one


This year the annual Sitecore User Group Conference is a bit closer to home and is being held in London. This will be my third time attending the event to find out the latest news from the Sitecore community and product teams.

Things started productively as I took advantage of the exam slot on offer and gained my Sitecore 9.1 developer certification. Whilst the product itself has a few core changes in version 9, not much has changed in the exam, but it’s always nice to get another Sitecore certificate to add to the collection!

With the exam out of the way, I could relax and enjoy the first day of the conference.

Here are my highlights from day one

Donovan Brown’s opening keynote on Azure DevOps

This was a great start to the day and really highlighted the importance of all aspects of DevOps. The scale of some of the projects he demo’d was mind-blowing, and really makes you wonder how we survived in this industry before we had this focus on high quality and reliable deployment pipelines. It’s becoming so commonplace now that as he pointed out: if you’re not doing it, then you’re losing out, because your competition probably are. Meaning they can deliver value to their customers faster and more reliably than you can!

Thankfully it’s an area we’ve been investing in quite heavily at Mando in the last few years. There’s always more to be done though, and I left the session with a few new ideas to take back to the office.

Kieran Marron & Stephen Pope talking about Sitecore Host

Now this is a real area of new development for Sitecore in their shift towards a more service based architecture and .NET core. I’ve been working with Sitecore for a number of years – and would like to think I’m pretty well versed in the core product – but this is definitely a new world, and quite possibly the future for the new services that I think we’ll see springing up to support the core platform over the next few years. It was a fascinating demo into how to configure a Host driven application. I won’t pretend to have left with total clarity on the platform, but it’s definitely something I’ll be looking into more!

Nick Wesselman’s session on Helix

Nick shared the feedback he’s gathered on Helix from the community, and described the direction he’s taking it over the next few years. There was no ground-breaking big reveal, but it was good to hear more about how people find using it and to get a few reminders and clarifications on why it exists in the first place. We’ve been working to Helix standards on all of our new projects over the last few years, and while I like many aspects of it, working on a fully ‘compliant’ Helix build isn’t without its frustrations and challenges. Fingers crossed the core product will continue to align to the Helix standards over the next few years, and I look forward to seeing the new Helix examples that Sitecore publish.

Criss Titschinger’s session on PaaS

Criss’ talk offered up some really useful real world insight into using PaaS for the first time with Sitecore. You can’t beat examples and lessons learned from real use of a platform! The issues arising from cold-starts was interesting. It’s clearly a common problem based on the feedback from the room – which, until resolved, would make me consider the use of elastic scaling vs a more fixed topology. The upgrade issues around Mongo was also particularly relevant for me. We’ve been in talks with a few clients recently about combining an upgrade with a move to PaaS, so this type of feedback really helps in those conversations and actually validates the approach we’ve been taking so far.

All in all, a good first day.