CIMcloud Platform Version Update Basics

Overview

A “Version Update” is the process that CIMcloud uses to update your instance of the CIMcloud platform (including the software code making it work, the supporting services, and any system/application data that is relies on to operate).  This article provides the basics of what you need to know about Version Updates to your CIMcloud platform.  It covers the following topics:

  • What a Version Update is
  • Why Version Updates are important
  • Product “Release” Basics (what they are, the 3 types, when they happen, what’s included in them)
  • How much Version Updates cost
  • Work that you are responsible for on Version Updates
  • Version Updates when you are live (vs. pre-live) on CIMcloud
  • The difference between Version Updates (on your platform) and (lower level) Infrastructure Changes
  • Version Updates for (pre-2018) “Classic” Website Pipeline or CIMcloud sites

Note: If you are on a “Classic” version of Website Pipeline or CIMcloud (typically sites built before 2018), this article does not apply to you until your complete a Classic-to-Current Migration project.  If you have questions, feel free to contact a CIMcloud Customer Success Manager for clarification.

What Is a Version Update?

A “Version Update” is the process that CIMcloud follows, with your cooperation and assistance (on some types of updates), to move your platform to the most recent release of CIMcloud.  A version update could impact one of more of these key areas:

  • The software your customer sites use
  • The software your worker portal uses
  • The API software your ERP sync tool uses (to get/send data from/to the CIMcloud platform)
  • The API software other applications use to interact with your CIMcloud data
  • The configuration data that tells the CIMcloud software what to do (called “application data”)

Version Update Process

The Version Update Process article provides an overview of the stages of work involved in the Version Update process from requesting the version update to publishing it.

Product “Release” Basics

What is a “Release”?

Version updates are available when the CIMcloud product team “releases” a new version of the CIMcloud platform.  All new features & capabilities (base platform and add-ons), underlying performance and security upgrades, and any other changes to the platform go through a general set of steps to create and deliver a new “version” of the code.

These (simplified) steps are: Decide > Plan > Develop > Test > Document > Release > Deploy.

  • The “Release” step is when a new “version” of the platform code (and associated data that makes it work) is officially added to the core product and made available.
  • The “Deploy” step is when that release (of that new “version”) is applied to your CIMcloud application via this “Version Update” process.

The Three (3) Types of Releases

It is helpful for you to understand the three (3) types of CIMcloud releases, and how each impacts the process and overall risk associated with a Version Update.  The CIMcloud product teams use a set of guidelines to determine which one of these three types of releases each change goes into.  The classification is based on the scope and risk of the change.

  • Major Release – These include brand new features, changes to existing features that cause the site to break if not properly addressed, removal of code or features (this does happen sometimes), and all types of minor changes or enhancements.
    • When: These typically occur twice per year (once in mid to late 2Q and one in mid to late 4Q).
    • These use the following version number pattern “YYYY.RX”, where YYYY is the year of the release and X is which major release it was that year (1 or 2).  Examples include: 2020.R1, 2020.R2, 2021.R1, etc.
    • CIMcloud installs add-on module upgrades on the current major release.
    • CIMcloud will apply Minor Revisions to the current major release (see below).
    • CIMcloud fully supports the current and “one-back” major releases with critical bug-fixes, etc.
    • CIMcloud will run and operate the “two-back” and older major releases and work with you to complete the Version Update asap to obtain the latest improvements, bug-fixes, etc.
    • Notification = Yes.  CIMcloud will coordinate Version Updates of new major releases with you.
    • Work by You = Yes.  These can involve additional implementation prep work (by you) and/or customization compatibility prep work (by your or CIM Pro Services group if you have any custom modifications on your site or with your ERP sync) before the version update and during the live publish.
  • Minor Revision – These include very small enhancements/changes, and all bug fixes / quality improvements.
    • When: There are typically 2 to 4 minor revisions per major release (approximately every 4 to 8 weeks)
    • Minor revisions are applied to the current and future major releases only.
    • Minor revisions add an additional number “N”, starting with 1, to the end of the major release number as shown in the pattern YYYY.RX.N.  Examples include: 2020.R2.1, 2020.R2.2, etc.
    • The first major release is assumed to be the “.0” revision.  For example, the initial release of 2021.R1 is assumed to be 2021.R1.0, and the next minor revision getting released will be 2021.R1.1.
    • Notification = Varies.  CIMcloud will either 1) notify you when this type of Version Update is expected to occur, or 2) coordinate with you if there is implementation prep work and/or material risks associated with customization compatibility.
    • Work by You = Small.  At the very least, you will be responsible for reviewing your application and reporting any issues after the Version Update is published.  If implementation work or customization compatibility work is required, CIMcloud will coordinate the Version Update with you so you can plan for and execute your part.
  • Patch – These include critical bug fixes and time-sensitive quality improvements only.
    • When: Patches are processed by the CIMcloud product teams periodically (typically weekly)
    • Patches are available for immediate use if needed, and ultimately become part of the next minor revision of the current major release.
    • A patch may involve small changes to software code and/or the application data that makes it run properly.
    • Patches are applied to one or more of the supported major release branches, as determined by the CIMcloud product teams.
    • Notification = Maybe.  CIMcloud will either 1) automatically install the update, or 2) notify you when this type of Version Update is expected to occur so you can review it after the publish.
    • Work by You = Maybe (small).  If CIMcloud notifies you of the update, you will be responsible for reviewing your application and reporting any issues after the Version Update is published.

How To Know What’s In a Release

CIMcloud communicates the changes included with major and minor releases in the following ways.

  • Release Articles (in the Help Center)
    • CIMcloud started publishing release articles in the help center beginning with 2020.R2.1.
    • We will continue to publish new articles with each major and minor revision.
    • A search in the help center for “release” should show the available articles.
    • For example, this is the article for the minor revision 2020.R2.1 Release
  • Webinars
    • CIMcloud holds webinars twice per year to provide information on the most recent major release, and indication of what’s being worked on and considered in upcoming (future) releases, and updates on the overall company.
    • Go to the webinars page on cimcloud.com to signup for upcoming webinars and access recorded version of previous webinars.

Why are Version Updates Important?

Applying Version Updates to your CIMcloud application is extremely important for your long term success.  A Version Update is the sole way that the the following types of enhancements are distributed from CIMcloud to your platform:

  • New Features (included in the Base Platform)
  • New Add-on Features or Bundles
  • Feature Enhancements (to base or add-ons)
  • Performance Upgrades
  • Compliance Upgrades
  • Compatibility Upgrades (to new browsers, devices, and 3rd party integrations)
  • Support for New ERP Versions
  • Security Upgrades (note: critical upgrades may be applied to older versions / releases if practical)

In short, getting Version Updates applied to your CIMcloud application is the only way you can fully tap the extensive and ongoing R&D investment that CIMcloud is making.

How Much Do Version Updates Cost?

In short, the software and standard work is free (included with your monthly fee), but there may be some costs associated with “extra work” that you need to factor in.  The following is a breakdown of the four potential cost factors related to a Version Update.

  1. Access to the New Release = Free (Included with Your Monthly Fee).
    1. You have access to the latest release of the base platform and any add-on bundles you have purchased as part of your monthly fee.  This is basically the “right” to get the latest release installed.
  2. Standard Install of the New Release = Free (Included with Your Monthly Fee).
    1. CIMcloud has a standard process that we follow to allow you to preview and ultimately publish the latest version of the CIMcloud platform to your live platform.  We run the automated tools and handle any labor on our side for the standard install steps at no additional charge to you.
  3. Implementation “Client Work” = You Are Responsible.
    1. With some major and minor releases, the new or enhanced features may require some setup and testing work in the CRM, Content, Product, or Settings Workspaces.  CIMcloud will provide self-service instructions on the work that is needed.  Your team is reponsible for completing the work during the preview and/or publish stage of the process.
  4. Customization “Compatibility Work” = May Require CIM Pro Services Hourly Billings.
    1. Your customization are not factored in or tested by the CIMcloud product teams.  Sometimes customizations are fully compatible with new releases.  Sometimes customizations require refactoring or adaptations to make them compatible with new releases.  You are responsible for any work, risks, or expenses associated with these customizations.  These include customizations or overrides to the core software code on your platform, net new code that runs on top of the core code, customizations to application data that makes the core application run, and/or customizations to your ERP sync or other 3rd party integration.  You will need to test all customizations and work with the CIM Pro Services team (standard hourly billable rates apply) to prepare for the Version Update and support and stabilize your customizations after the version update.

Work You Are Responsible For

CIMcloud attempts to keep your work to a minimum on Version Updates, but some work does apply.  The amount varies by 1) the type of release you are moving to (major vs. minor vs. patch), 2) the scope of what’s included in that release, and 3) how old / far back your current live version is from the version you are moving to (in general, the father back your are from the current release… the bigger the change, potential work, and risk is).

The “Three (3) Types of Releases” and “How Much Do Version Updates Cost?” sections above reference the general work you are responsible for.  This is a quick recap of the major categories of work.

  • Implementation “Client Work” – this includes any data/content work required for new or enhanced features to make the new version work properly.  You will do this work during the Version Update preview stage (to test it) and then repeat is during the publish stage.
  • Customization “Compatibility Work” – this work includes potential work by you and/or the CIM Pro Services group (standard billing rates apply) to make your customizations work with the new version of CIMcloud that you are moving to with the Version update.  You will do this work during the Version Update preview stage (to test it) and then repeat is during the publish stage.
  • Review (and Notification of any Issues) – this includes you reviewing the CIMcloud application, including all business critical workflows like product searching and ordering) to make sure no unforeseen issues were introduced.  If you find any issues, report them via our ticketing system so we can quickly get them addressed.  This review work should occur:
    • During the live publish process (if the Version Update was coordinated with you because of the “Extra” work involved or the overall risk of the change was material), and
    • After the live publish if you were notified of (or coordinated with for) the Version Update

Version Updates on Live vs. Pre-Live Platforms

We consider you to be in a “Pre-Live” state on CIMcloud if one of these two conditions applies:

  1. You are a brand new CIMcloud customer first implementing the platform (without live usage yet), or
  2. You are migrating from classic to current and you haven’t switched your live traffic to the new platform yet

Version Updates can occur on both live and pre-Live CIMcloud platforms.  If you are pre-live, we will typically take a more aggressive approach to the Version Update process (with regards to notification to you and specific process steps followed), because the risk of business interruption (if something unexpected happens) is small (because you have no live traffic on the application).  This article was written primarily from the perspective of Version Updates on live CIMcloud platforms.  There are not really material differences, but it’s worth mentioning so you can keep your situation in mind.

Version Updates vs. Infrastructure Changes

Version Updates cover a major portion of the potential changes that can impact your CIMcloud application.  There are additional enhancements and changes that occur “under the hood” that impact the operations of your application.  We generally classify these are “Infrastructure Changes”.  We make them with the intent of improving the overall delivery of the CIMcloud application.  These changes could include data center changes, low level software version updates (i.e. Windows, Docker, Kubernetes, SQL Server, Linux, SOLR, etc), hardware / equipment install and updates, etc.

Our goal is to make these changes behind the scenes so you never have to see them or know about them.  If there are material, known risks to your CIMcloud platform’s operational stability associated with these types of changes, we will typically notify you that infrastructure upgrades are occurring (including a time window and expected risks to you).  You will likely not be needed for any of these changes, but we want to acknowledge that they exist and distinguish them from the Version Update changes discussed in this article.

Version Updates for (pre-2018) “Classic” Sites

If you are using an older (pre-2018) “Classic” version of Website Pipeline or CIMcloud, this article does not apply to you yet.  Your next step is to go through a Classic-to-Core Migration project to get to the latest version of CIMcloud.  After your complete the migration project, this article will apply to you.

Why? The “Classic” versions of Website Pipeline and CIMcloud were deployed and run on a completely different delivery mechanism (a.k.a a version management and deployment system).  The migration process is the cleanest and easiest way to get on the latest version of CIMcloud.  You will then be able to stay on the latest version via the Version Update process.  The Classic to CIMcloud: What, Why, and How article is a great place to learn more about Migrations.

 

Updated on October 19, 2021

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