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Status on new Umbraco Cloud infrastructure, February 2021

Morten
Written by Morten Christensen

In December, we announced the move to a new infrastructure on Umbraco Cloud to give you an improved development experience and enhance stability and predictability for you and your clients. A big part of this is an update to how we manage DNS (Domain Naming System), hostnames and traffic routing. This is the part we have started now - and it's something that might require an action from you as a Cloud customer: 

In the Future of Umbraco Cloud blog post, we listed several areas and services that we are working on for the new infrastructure. This blog post focuses on the new service for resolving hostnames and certificate renewal. We have done a lot of preparation and as a current Umbraco Cloud user, we need your help in getting the new settings updated, read on to understand why we have made the changes and what you need to do.

New DNS settings

As part of the preparations for migrating to the new Umbraco Cloud infrastructure, we have updated our DNS setup to serve all traffic through Cloudflare. From February 9th you have been able to easily switch to the new service by simply updating your DNS entries. 

We have done all the heavy lifting in advance, making sure that everything is in place before you update your settings. We have sent out emails with instructions on how to update your DNS entries if your project(s) haven’t already been updated.

  • Some users have already updated their projects DNS settings by following our guide for How to move away from Umbraco Latch, if so, no further action is required on your end.

  • Projects created after December 8th, 2020, are already using the new service for DNS and certificate renewal. No further action is required on your end.

  • We acknowledge that we’re asking for you to take action and you need to plan this. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the updated DNS settings please reach out in the chat or at contact@umbraco.com.

Why have we updated the settings?

The main goal of the new Umbraco Cloud is to make it the best place to work with Umbraco. Part of reaching that goal is to improve traffic management to be faster and more resilient and to continuously extend the offering with new features.

With the launch of Umbraco Heartcore in late 2019, we launched the first Umbraco Cloud offering that utilised Cloudflare’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) for serving media. Using CDN for Media was just the first step, we have expanded this to also include content, simplified API routing and improved automatic certificate renewal as well. 

It made it clear that Cloudflare’s CDN capabilities and numerous other services are a great fit for a new and improved Umbraco Cloud infrastructure that adds benefit across all our products on Umbraco Cloud. The new DNS settings allow us to enable these benefits for both existing and new projects.

How this benefits Umbraco Cloud today

As such, Cloudflare has been a key component as we have worked on defining the new architecture and infrastructure for Umbraco Cloud. It has allowed us to work on several improvements on Umbraco Cloud that both help to provide stability and improved performance and will make the transition to the infrastructure easier. 

Content Delivery Platform (CDP) for Umbraco Heartcore 
As mentioned previously, content and media in Heartcore projects are served via the CDP and routed through our Cloudflare integration. This has been benefiting Heartcore users for more than a year.

DNS/Hostnames for Umbraco Cloud projects
On December 8th, 2020, we launched the new service for managing DNS and hostnames on Umbraco Cloud. All new projects are routed via the new Cloudflare integration and all existing projects can be updated to use the new DNS settings. Direct communication has been sent out with details on how to update the settings.

TLS Certificate Renewal
A big benefit of using Umbraco Cloud is that we take care of creating and renewing TLS certificates. This functionality has been in place for several years (known as Umbraco Latch) and has been updated to utilise Cloudflare for all certificate needs. When you have updated your hostname to use the new DNS settings you will continue to receive Certificates as part of the Umbraco Cloud offering. The main difference is that we will now use Digicert as the certificate authority instead of Let's Encrypt, and the renewal is changed from every 3 months to every 12 months.

Safe transition to the new infrastructure
With the new DNS setup we will be able to migrate existing projects and, when ready, divert traffic to the new infrastructure. This will be done in batches and we will contact you directly with details. We’re starting with Pro and Enterprise projects and will then expand to include all eligible projects. The migration will be closely monitored and we can roll-back, should any irregularities occur. 

What does this mean for you?

Well, you will get improved performance on your Umbraco Cloud projects today. Umbraco Cloud will function as you know it but we have made several improvements under the hood. And, importantly, your projects will be ready to transition to the new Umbraco Cloud infrastructure. 

Aside from providing a stable and performant Cloud experience and easing the migration to the new infrastructure, using Cloudflare opens up a wide range of functionality and features that you will be able to make use of on Umbraco Cloud. Some of them very soon 😀

Over the last couple of months, we’ve introduced Cloud storage (Azure blob storage) as the default media storage for all Umbraco Cloud projects. With this in place, we can offer true CDN capabilities out of the box utilising Cloudflare's extensive Content Delivery Network. This allows you to serve media more efficiently, reducing bandwidth consumption and load times as well as adding security benefits.

We are also working on additional caching and security features, which can be enabled on a per hostname basis and once they’ve been refined we'll talk in greater detail about the features and what they add.

The future is now 

As you can see from the above, utilising the new DNS setup has enabled a whole host of features and improvements for Umbraco Cloud and provides huge benefits for all Umbraco Cloud users. All these things help bring us closer to the goal of providing the best possible experience for developing and hosting Umbraco projects.

We hope you like all the improvements we have brought already and look forward to all the new features that we’re enabling on Umbraco Cloud. The full launch of the new Umbraco Cloud infrastructure is targeted for mid-March. Soon after, we will enable new projects to use the new infrastructure by default.

What you need to do as an existing Cloud customer: 

There are a few requirements that have to be met before a project can be moved to the new infrastructure. These all help to ensure a smooth migration with minimum impact on running projects:

  • Media served from blob storage - No further action is required.
    We have completed the migration to Cloud storage for all eligible projects.

  • Updated DNS settings - you might need to update settings 
    Your projects need to be updated to use the new DNS settings. If you aren’t using this already you will be contacted directly to update your DNS entries. You can find a guide with all the details in the Umbraco Cloud documentation.

  • Minimum versions for Umbraco CMS - you might need to update your project(s)
    As we get ready for the new infrastructure, we are aiming to reduce the number of versions currently present on Umbraco Cloud. By helping customers get to the latest versions, we can improve security, stability and overall experience of using Umbraco Cloud. If you have projects on versions 8.6.6, 7.7.7 or earlier, we highly encourage you to upgrade to the latest minor and patch version and if possible, do this within the next 2 months. Minimum supported versions will be:
    • Umbraco 8.6.7 for version 8 projects
    • Umbraco 7.7.8 for version 7 projects.

You can find more information in the documentation article for upgrading to the latest minor or if you’re using the UaaS.cmd tool refer to the manual upgrade documentation.

Projects that do not meet the requirements, will not be part of the initial migration to the new infrastructure. We know this requires additional work from you and are thrilled to see how many have already updated their projects and settings. As always, you’re welcome to reach out to us in the Umbraco Cloud chat or on contact@umbraco.com if you have any questions or concerns. 

What’s next?

As mentioned above, the next step is to make the new infrastructure available for existing projects on Umbraco Cloud. We will begin the process in March, starting with internal sites and then from mid-March, we’ll initiate the migration for projects on Pro and Enterprise plans. This will be done in batches and you’ll receive direct communication about the schedule. Subsequently, new projects will be created on the new infrastructure and we’ll continue the migration of all remaining projects.

We will provide you with further updates on the progress in the coming months and communicate directly if any specific action is needed on your part.

If you want to stay informed, we recommend signing up for notifications on the Umbraco Cloud status page where you’ll be notified about any scheduled maintenance.

We also recommend updating/adding one or more technical contacts for your Umbraco projects to ensure the right people are notified. This can be done on the “Edit Team” page for each project.

We’ll have more dedicated status blog posts about the new Umbraco Cloud infrastructure before it’s release in mid-March and you can find progress updates in the bi-weekly Product Update blog posts here on the Umbraco blog.

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