3.4.2. What to deploy and to where

Some data and configuration will sit outside the development and build phases of the application lifecycle. Therefore, your process should cater for this environment specific data or configuration (see Value Scope).

Some data and configuration is owned by the development process (such as C# code, views and the template structure) while others are owned by the production environment (such as the content items). It is important that your deployment process takes this into consideration and maps this carefully. This is especially important for items in Sitecore and configuration in .config changes –both of which can be managed in multiple places. Also, this is important in an automation process, as you do not want to overwrite production content or configuration by accident or be unable to test on a representative production-like dataset.

The detailed ownership and direction of flow depends on the business logic and requirements of the solution. For example, although templates are most often managed in development and should at all times be deployed from development to production, in some rare cases Project layer templates, such as Page Type templates and Datasource templates, can be managed partly in production to allow for dynamic fields and content.

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Figure: Parts of a deployed Sitecore instance

The diagram above breaks down the overall parts of a typical deployed Sitecore instances, and highlights some of the data types and configurations to consider. The following describes the diagram in more details. Ownership in the table means that a change in the given environment always takes precedence – and therefore will overwrite changes in other environments.

Items
What is it:Items in the Sitecore databases (core and master)
Content Items
What is it:The content that is displayed on a website or other digital channel, and settings that affect the behaviour of a website or another digital channel. This content can be edited by content authors.
Owned by:Production
Direction:Typically moved from production to other environments for testing. Some items might initially be created in development and deployed to production in an install-once process.
Definition Items
What is it:Sitecore data items that configure the implementation and that have a direct relationship with the presentation and business logic in the code, for example templates, fields, layouts, placeholders etc.
Owned by:Development
Direction:Installed as part of application deployments from development to QA and ultimately production.
Files
What is it:Files on disk on the servers
Implementation Files
What is it:The implementation specific files, for example assemblies, views, CSS and JavaScript files.
Owned by:Development
Direction:Installed as part of application deployments from development to QA and ultimately production.
Platform Files
What is it:Vendor specific files, i.e. files that are installed as part of a standard module
Owned by:Development
Direction:Installed as part of application deployments from development to QA and ultimately production or as part of the initial configuration of the environment.
Configuration files
What is it:.config or other files that configure the system.
Implementation
What is it:Configuration that sets up the functionality, but that is application wide
Owned by:Development
Direction:Installed as part of application deployments from development to QA and ultimately production.
Role
What is it:Configuration that sets up the instance as a particular Sitecore instance role, for example a delivery, management or xDB processing server.
Owned by:Deployment
Direction:Set up by the deployment process as part of the configuration of the installation. Any individual role configuration files can be managed in Development as part of the implementation.
Environment
What is it:Configuration file changes relating to the specific running server or specific environment, for example connection strings, server names, domains etc.
Owned by:Deployment
Direction:Set up by the deployment and managed in the specific environments.|
Environment
What is it:The infrastructure needed for running the Sitecore and the application.
Configuration
What is it:Server or environment specific configurations such as network, DNS, hosts file changes, machine.config etc.
Owned by:Deployment
Direction:Set up as part of the initial deployment process. Can be automated but often is not.|
Services
What is it:Related services running in the environment or on the instance server, for example operating systems, IIS, SQL servers, Windows Services etc.
Owned by:Deployment
Direction:Set up as part of the initial deployment process. Can be automated but often is not.|
Infrastructure
What is it:The underlying server, virtual or physical,
Owned by:Deployment
Direction:Set up as part of the initial deployment process. Can be automated but often is not.|

Once you have mapped the ownership and direction of data in your implementation, avoid making changes that violate this, for example by submitting code or configuration changes directly to test or product environments and circumventing the QA and development procedures. Violating this mapping is highly discouraged and should be avoided as all cost.

Consider every type of deployment onto the environments, including initial deployment, vendor upgrades and minor or major application updates, when designing your deployment process. Remember to take into account the availability of the running solution.