6 AEM Best Practices for Upgrading to New Versions

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) helps marketing teams create, manage, and distribute content to deliver the best digital user experience without relying on IT for asset management. This allows brands to respond nimbly to consumer expectations and stand out in the marketplace.

Leveraging the latest AEM version is vital to providing the most up-to-the-minute digital experience that augments your brand image. However, there are many steps and components involved in such a complex upgrade. Any mistake or oversight can disrupt internal workflows or impact the customer experience.

One of the best ways to avoid hiccups in the software upgrade process and ensure a smooth transition is to implement these AEM best practices with the right agency partner so you can avoid costly errors and delays.

Six AEM Best Practices for Upgrading

1. Plan Your Upgrade

An AEM upgrade needs to be handled methodically by following a comprehensive plan. List out all the requirements and analyze specific key elements. Review how the upgrade will impact various components in the system, such as the OS, hardware, Java runtime, customer application services, content repository, etc.

You should also evaluate the pros and cons of an in-place upgrade vs. a new install. An in-place upgrade converts the existing AEM instance and all the content to the latest version. It’s Adobe supported, so there’s no risk of leaving out pieces of content in the process.

On the other hand, a new install gives you a fresh start and requires fewer steps. Your agency partner should work with you to evaluate your options, determine the best upgrade approach, and create a plan to proceed.

2. Determine Upgrade Complexity with Pattern Detector

Use Adobe’s Pattern Detector to check existing AEM instances for their compatibility with new features. This is accomplished by detecting patterns in use that violate certain rules and in areas that will be affected or overwritten by the upgrade.

The Pattern Detector covers OSGi bundles exports and imports mismatch, sling resource types and supertypes, VLT packages, and definitions of Oak indexes. It will also generate a report on backward compatibility, which you can use to decide how to best reach a compatible state.

3. Prepare for the Upgrade

Take the necessary pre-upgrade steps to ensure that the process goes smoothly. These activities include creating a full backup of AEM, generating the quickstart.properties file, configuring workflow and audit log purging, disabling custom login modules, rotating Log files, and upgrading the Database Schema.

You should also install, configure, and run the Pre-upgrade Tasks, which are activities performed by the system (e.g., log audits configuration).

4. Create a Test Plan

Design a testing strategy and ensure that the test plan covers all the critical functional areas of AEM. All upgrades should start from a lower environment, and bugs should be fixed in an iterative process until the code is stable before performing the upgrade in a higher environment.

Since all the test cases will be executed as per the expected upgrade version, you need to make sure that the application codebase is stable before starting an upgrade.

5. Design a Rollback Strategy

A rollback strategy is essential for any software upgrade. It’s particularly important when you’re working with a complex system such as AEM. It’s performed in the event that the upgrade doesn’t meet the requirements and you need to revert to the older version to remain functional.

The rollback strategy should include information about the full backup of AEM and all its components, properties, etc., as well as technical instruction, communication protocols, and contact information of stakeholders.

6. Perform Post-Upgrade Checks and Troubleshooting

Prepare a post-upgrade checklist to test all critical activities before the upgrade is finalized. The list should include verifying the OSGi bundle and Oak version, inspecting the PreUpgradeBackup folder, validating all pages, and applying the AEM service packs, as well as enabling replication agents and custom scheduled jobs.

Seamlessly Transition to a New AEM Version

There are many moving parts when upgrading to a new version of AEM. The best way to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks is to work with an experienced AEM partner. They can help you ensure a seamless transition while avoiding critical issues that could negatively impact your brand’s online experience.

Thanks to its robust functionalities and wide range of features, Adobe AEM is a complex enterprise software solution that requires multiple steps and expert knowledge to execute a successful upgrade. Not only do you need to evaluate the various upgrade options, but you also have to ensure backward compatibility, as well as the complete transfer of all the existing data and assets to the new version.

Some users overlook the importance of AEM best practices in terms of creating a comprehensive test plan and including sufficient time in their projects for bug fixing. This mistake often leads to costly problems after the new version has gone live.

When you work with an experienced AEM partner, you can rest assured that any challenges will be addressed during the upgrade process.

Atypical Digital is an Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) Preferred Partner specializing in helping enterprise brands leverage Adobe’s AEM platform to optimize their platforms for productivity and efficiency, free up IT-related tasks to make teams more productive, and maximize AEM stability and security.

To see how Atypical Digital can help your brand improve its backend foundation to reduce critical errors during AEM upgrades, contact our knowledgeable team of AEM upgrade specialists today!


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