Sitecore® Implementation: Best Practices for Performance and Stability
Sitecore is one of the most powerful and flexible content management systems available. It has the ability to create memorable brand experiences and serve personalized content that users love. You can use Sitecore to create a news website capable of serving content to thousands of users per second, an online store that sells products to customers around the world or anything in between. Because Sitecore is so highly configurable, though, it may not provide the ideal website environment for all businesses out of the box. Nevertheless, there are certain configuration methods for Sitecore that we consider best practices. If you’re planning to build a new Sitecore implementation, we believe that these words of advice can apply to almost any website.
For the best possible security and performance, we recommend dividing the Sitecore implementation so that different servers handle content creation, content rendering and database storage. Keeping the content creation environment separate from the public website improves security by ensuring that, if the website falls victim to a hacker, the hacker will not have the ability to add or modify content. Separating the two environments also prevents website users from slowing performance for content creators and vice versa.
Sitecore has the ability to cache dynamic content as static HTML pages for faster loading. Caching increases page loading speed for the end user and lessens the load on the database. The exact configuration that you should use for Sitecore caching, though, depends on the configuration of your website and the speed of your servers. If a page requires dynamic rendering because it contains personalized content, for example, you shouldn’t attempt to cache that page because doing so could break core website functionality. Virtually every Sitecore-based website can offer superior performance to its users with caching enabled. Determining the best caching settings for your website, though, will require some experimentation.
When organizing your content in Sitecore, you should try to avoid allowing the number of items in any category to become too large. Suppose your website has a blog section, for example. If you store all of the blog’s articles in a single folder, Sitecore’s performance could decrease when the blog becomes very large. Each time a user attempts to view the blog, Sitecore will have to load all of the articles that have appeared in the blog filtering the results according to the user’s criteria. If the blog has thousands of articles, the need to scan all of them before displaying a single article can severely degrade website performance. Keep Sitecore’s database performance high by saving posts in tropical or date-based folders.
Whether it’s due to network connectivity issues, hardware failure or hacking, any server can fail unexpectedly. It’s better to have a fallback plan in place than to hope that server failure never happens to you. If you have the budget, you should set up a second Sitecore instance in a data center separate from the one in which your primary Sitecore instance resides. Configure your primary Sitecore instance to synchronize with the fallback instance at least once per day. If your main server fails, switching to the fall back website until you fix the problem is a relatively simple matter. If you include a content creation interface in your Sitecore fall back instance, you can give your content creators the ability to continue publishing and modifying content when your website is in fallback mode. Don’t forget to put a message at the top of each page explaining that the functionality of your website is temporarily reduced.
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