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The future of Umbraco Cloud

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Written by Jacob Midtgaard-Olesen

Today we’re officially announcing the plan for a new Umbraco Cloud infrastructure on Azure that will ensure a stable, performant and future-proof SaaS offering for Umbraco. This has been in the works for quite some time and we’ve already implemented the first milestones. In this blog post, I’ll cover the overall roadmap along with current initiatives and we’ll follow up with more posts detailing the new architecture and what we have planned further down the line.

A trip down Cloud lane

Umbraco Cloud launched back in 2015 as Umbraco as a Service. With this launch, we made it possible to start Umbraco with a single click on a platform that allows for multi-environment set-ups complete with code and content synchronisation. 

Umbraco Cloud has not only made it easier to use all our products, but also had a positive impact on the products themselves. It has helped drive numerous initiatives in the Open Source CMS, improvements across all our software offerings and lifted our customer service and communication efforts. It opened up an entirely new way for Umbraco to interface with our customers and community, getting us closer to real-world Umbraco installations and more importantly, much closer to the people working with Umbraco on a daily basis.

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We are constantly revising and improving features and services to ensure we can continuously live up to the goal of Umbraco Cloud: Being the best place to host your Umbraco solutions and making it easier, friendlier and more fun to work with Umbraco. To help us achieve this going forward, we want to make several improvements over the coming months. We now have years of experience to build on. New technologies and conventions have surfaced, especially with Umbraco on .NET Core getting closer and the growth of cloud based tools available to us. Umbraco Cloud will be able to take full advantage of the opportunities this brings to empower developers and expand on hosting capabilities.

A brand new Cloud ⛅

Over the past year, we’ve been working intently on distilling all the learnings to a roadmap for what Umbraco Cloud should like in the future. We are now on a clear path to improving Umbraco Cloud and ensuring it is also the best solution for working with Umbraco in the future.

To deliver all that we want, both now and in the future, we need to change the underlying infrastructure of the web hosting platform of Umbraco Cloud. Simple as that. We are moving away from an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) based solution to one where Umbraco Cloud is more closely integrated with Azure's native Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering (Azure App Service). Umbraco Cloud already today utilizes several other services from Azure, so this is a natural fit for the platform.

 

 

“I’m quite excited about the flexibility that this new infrastructure will give us. There are so many features that we’d love to provide as part of Umbraco Cloud. The first one we can check off the list is HTTP/2 and from there we start working our way up and expanding the reach of Umbraco Cloud with the service being available in multiple regions. Umbraco Cloud will be the best place for hosting your Umbraco based website and we look forward to supporting your digital business needs and developer workflows.”
- Morten Christensen, Azure Hero and lead architect on Umbraco Cloud

 

This will benefit existing and future Cloud, Uno and Heartcore projects and, importantly, open up for a whole range of exciting opportunities, features and capabilities that we simply cannot achieve with the current setup. That being said, we’re working hard to make the transition as smooth as possible for all our customers. 

There are big changes coming but we’re there every step of the way, making it easy and seamless and we'll make sure to communicate directly if there is anything you, as a customer or partner, need to be aware of or assist with in relation to the migration.

The journey to a new Cloud 

The initial roadmap was developed internally and subsequently we’ve worked in collaboration with Microsoft and additional partners to ensure we’re making the most of what Azure has to offer as well as taking advantage of other services that will help us achieve a smooth transition to the new infrastructure.

We’ve already released the first set of related features and improvements to Umbraco Cloud. These are focused on making it possible to migrate (lift & shift) existing projects to the new platform seamlessly and also have added benefits for our current platform.

Platform Enabling Features and Services

These features and services are either currently in development or recently released. They add benefits to existing projects as well as enabling us to migrate efficiently to the new infrastructure.

  • Cloud based media storage (Released in November, 2020)
    Using cloud based storage for Media files (Azure blob storage) ensures flexibility for hosting location and enables the possibility to serve media in a faster, less resource intensive way by providing native CDN capabilities from Umbraco Cloud.

  • New service for resolving hostnames and certificate renewal (Released on December 8th, 2020)
    This is now handled using Cloudflare, which is state-of-the-art and close to an industry standard at this point. The new service takes advantage of Cloudflare's extensive content delivery network, security capabilities and reduced latency. Finally, it allows us to migrate existing projects to the new infrastructure in an efficient way.

    All new hostnames added to an Umbraco Cloud Project will be using Cloudflare going forward.

    All existing hostnames will continue to be automatically renewed using the old service for now. We will assist in the migrating to the new service to ensure everyone is ready for the new infrastructure. If you want to take advantage of it today, manually migrating to the new service is as simple as removing and re-adding the hostname along with updated DNS settings - please refer to the updated documentation on managing hostnames for details.

  • Single sign-on (SSO) for Umbraco Cloud (ETA: December 18th, 2020)
    This feature will be enabled for new projects in December after which migration for existing projects will be scheduled. SSO is based on a new centralized account management system. Aside from the benefits already mentioned this will enable us to seamlessly transfer authentication to the new infrastructure.

    With SSO for the Umbraco Cloud platform, you only have to log in once and you’re good to go. This works across the Cloud portal, the backoffice on all environments and even on local clones. It benefits everyone using Umbraco Cloud from developers to editors.

New Infrastructure

The initial focus will be on repurposing many of the existing Umbraco Cloud services and features to work with the new setup and decouple them from the current infrastructure.

  • Cloud Deployment Engine (ETA: February 2021)
    The deployment engine on Umbraco Cloud, allocating projects, managing multiple environments and transferring changes between environments, will be updated to work in the new infrastructure.

  • Cloud services (ETA: March 2021)
    One of the huge benefits of Umbraco Cloud is the ease of one-click minor upgrades and automatic patch upgrades. The service for managing upgrades will be upgraded for the new infrastructure. This also includes work to enable baseline functionality, monitoring on Cloud and unattended installs/upgrades for Umbraco CMS.

  • Enabling new projects (ETA: March 2021)
    New projects on Umbraco Cloud will be created on the new infrastructure.

  • Migration of existing projects (ETA: Starting Mid-March 2021)
    Existing projects on Umbraco Cloud will be migrated to the new infrastructure. This will be done for both v7 and v8 projects, as well as Umbraco Uno and Umbraco Heartcore projects.

Throughout the migration process we’ll keep a steady cadence and  ensure monitoring and clear communication on the process. We will handle the migration of all sites. If your involvement is needed for the migration process, we will reach out in due time to plan this out. When we get closer to the release date there will be more detailed communication on what the migration entails.

New Features

With a new underlying hosting platform in place we have the foundation for enabling a range of new features on Umbraco Cloud. We want to open up for hosting your project in other regions in addition to the current one (West Europe), enable further CDN capabilities for Media and Content, provide the ability to schedule automatic upgrades and much more.

As you can see from the above we are well underway with a new and improved infrastructure for Umbraco Cloud. We are really excited about it and all the opportunities it opens up to enhance the overall experience and service we can provide on Umbraco Cloud.

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Next time on “The future of Umbraco Cloud”

In the beginning of the new year, we will publish a blog post where we dive into the new architecture and provide more details on the roadmap. I’ll also update you on the progress we’ve made but do keep an eye on the bi-weekly Product Updates on the blog where we’ll make sure to chronicle the progress as well.

If you have any feedback you’re, as always, welcome to reach out on product@umbraco.com. For project specific questions and concerns reach out using your support channel, either the Cloud chat or at contact@umbraco.com.

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