Sunday, April 29, 2018

Exploring Sitecore Managed Cloud Part 1: Tiers, Sizing, Provisioning and Upgrades



I have been working within a client's Sitecore Managed Cloud environment for the last several months, and wanted to share some insights gained from my experience in a series of blog posts, this being the first.

Tier Configuration

Sitecore Managed Cloud Hosting offers a variety of tiers based on traffic volume.

Each tier has a recommended hardware configuration, as shown here:

When you commit to a tier, Sitecore's Managed Cloud Team will provision your Azure infrastructure to support that tier. You will have the ability to increase to the next tier when traffic increases are expected.

If traffic exceeds the threshold of the currently subscribed tier, an overage charge will be applied. From what I understand, the overage cost is about 25% greater than the additional cost of jumping to the next tier.

Tier Sizing and Overage

Sitecore Managed Cloud has the concept of an “included Azure spend” linked to each tier.

If you need to scale up or out, and the cost associated with your scaling goes above your “included Azure spend”,  it is up to you to pay an overage fee. This fee is based on an “overage multiplier” that Sitecore provides you with.

Here are some overage examples:

  • Additional Traffic beyond tier
  • Additional Web Apps Used (Add 1 or more Content Delivery Web App)
  • Exceed Storage Limits (loading large amounts of videos or pdfs)
  • Exceeding Storage Limits for xDB

XP–XSmall XP–Small XP–Medium XP–Large XP-XLarge
TRAFFIC (in visits/mo.) 0–100k 100k –200k 200k –1MM 1MM –5MM 5MM –10MM
Content Management 1 (B2) 1 (B2) 1 (B2) 1 (B2) 1 (B2)
Content Delivery 1 (B2) 2 (B2) 3 (B2) 4 (S2) 8 (S3)
Bandwidth 20 GB 40 GB 40 GB 60 GB 100 GB

The Azure App Service Plan pricing page provides details regarding what B2s and S3s are:

Sitecore recommends proactive increase of a given topology’s tiers when traffic increases are expected. However, the alternative overage charge poses only a moderate increase in cost to maintain site performance during unexpected, temporary spikes in volume. It also can serve as an indicator that advancement to a larger tier should be considered.

Infrastructure Provisioning

Before provisioning the new infrastructure, the Sitecore Managed Cloud Hosting Team will request that you provide them with the following  information:

  1. Sitecore Version (Eg: Sitecore XP 9.0 Update-1)
  2. Logical Name (Eg: MySuperSolution)
  3. Location of Deployment (Eg: East US)
  4. Location of your Microsoft Application Insights Resources (Eg: East US)
  5. Microsoft Live IDs who can access your Managed Cloud set
From my experience, provisioning will take about a day.

NOTE: As mentioned here: Sitecore provisions you with a temporary license file that is valid for one month. When the temporary license expires, Sitecore stops working, therefore it is important that you upload a valid permanent license.xml file as soon as possible.


Unfortunately, you as a partner or customer will be responsible for upgrades after the Sitecore Managed Cloud Hosting Team has provisioned your infrastructure.

Sitecore initially provisioned our infrastructure using Sitecore 9 Initial Release. After a couple weeks, Sitecore Update-1 was released, and we opened a ticket to request for them to provision all environments on the newer version.

The only reason they did this for us was because we hadn't deployed anything to the new environments, and they could simply delete the existing and provision the new ones using the updated Azure Web Packages.

So the point is - they will NOT upgrade your environment after you have deployed your custom solution into it.

Monday, April 2, 2018

SolrProvider SolrSearchFieldConfiguration Error After Upgrade from Sitecore 8.1 Update-3 to 8.2 Update-6



In a previous post, I wrote about upgrading an existing client's large, multisite 8.1 rev. 160519 (8.1 Update-3) instance to 8.2 rev. 171121 (8.2 Update-6).

After multiple rounds of testing, I deployed the upgraded instance to our client's Staging server (Windows Server 2008 R2). When navigating to the Content Editor, I ran into the following Solr related error:

Unable to cast object of type 'System.Collections.Concurrent.ConcurrentBag`1[Sitecore.ContentSearch.SolrProvider.SolrSearchFieldConfiguration]' to type 'System.Collections.Generic.IReadOnlyCollection`1[Sitecore.ContentSearch.SolrProvider.SolrSearchFieldConfiguration]'.

Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

Exception Details: System.InvalidCastException: Unable to cast object of type 'System.Collections.Concurrent.ConcurrentBag`1[Sitecore.ContentSearch.SolrProvider.SolrSearchFieldConfiguration]' to type 'System.Collections.Generic.IReadOnlyCollection`1[Sitecore.ContentSearch.SolrProvider.SolrSearchFieldConfiguration]'.

Digging In

After reviewing the stack trace and decompiling the Sitecore.ContentSearch.SolrProvider.dll , I focused on the SolrFieldNameTranslator.StripKnownExtensions method in the SolrFieldNameTranslator class:

1:  public string StripKnownExtensions(string fieldName)  
2:    {  
3:     fieldName = this.StripKnownCultures(fieldName);  
4:     foreach (SolrSearchFieldConfiguration availableType in (IEnumerable<SolrSearchFieldConfiguration>) this.fieldMap.GetAvailableTypes())  
5:     {  
6:      if (fieldName.StartsWith("_", StringComparison.Ordinal))  
7:      {  
8:       if (!fieldName.StartsWith("__", StringComparison.Ordinal))  
9:        break;  
10:      }  
11:      string str = availableType.FieldNameFormat.Replace("{0}", string.Empty);  
12:      if (fieldName.EndsWith(str, StringComparison.Ordinal))  
13:       fieldName = fieldName.Substring(0, fieldName.Length - str.Length);  
14:      if (fieldName.StartsWith(str, StringComparison.Ordinal))  
15:       fieldName = fieldName.Substring(str.Length, fieldName.Length);  
16:     }  
17:     return fieldName;  
18:    }  
Looking at line 4 above, the GetAvailableTypes method is shown below:

  private readonly ConcurrentBag<SolrSearchFieldConfiguration> availableTypes = new ConcurrentBag<SolrSearchFieldConfiguration>();  
  public IReadOnlyCollection<SolrSearchFieldConfiguration> GetAvailableTypes()  
    return (IReadOnlyCollection<SolrSearchFieldConfiguration>) this.availableTypes;  

As you can see in the code, when calling the GetAvailableTypes method, it casts the ConcurrentBag<SolrSearchFieldConfiguration> type to IReadOnlyCollection<SolrSearchFieldConfiguration> and this is where the "Unable to cast object" error message came from:

Unable to cast object of type 'System.Collections.Concurrent.ConcurrentBag`1[Sitecore.ContentSearch.SolrProvider.SolrSearchFieldConfiguration]' to type 'System.Collections.Generic.IReadOnlyCollection`1[Sitecore.ContentSearch.SolrProvider.SolrSearchFieldConfiguration]'.


According to, the ConcurrentBag<T> class implements IReadOnlyCollection<T> interface in .NET Framework 4.5 and above. However, according to MSDN, in .NET Framework 4.0 it doesn't implement the IReadOnlyCollection<T> interface. The IReadOnlyCollection<T> interface was introduced in .NET Framework 4.5.

I went ahead and verified that the .NET Framework 4.5.2 was installed on the server. Next I checked my Web.config, and confirmed that the compilation targetFramework was set to "4.5.2" and that my httpRuntime targetFramework was set to "4.5.2":

    <compilation targetFramework="4.5.2"/>
    <httpRuntime targetFramework="4.5.2"/>

I then tried to repair the .NET framework, and even rebooted the server after the repair, and it didn't solve the problem.

Microsoft Security Update Woes

It was obvious that my 2 initial assumptions about not having the .NET Framework 4.5.2 installed or having a configuration issue were wrong.

As it turned out, .NET 4.5.2 did in fact contain the System.Collections.Concurrent.ConcurrentBag<T> class from System.dll which implemented the IReadOnlyCollection<T> interface, but there were a series of security updates that were rolled out by Microsoft, where the ConcurrentBag<T> did not implement the IReadOnlyCollection<T>. The security updates were built based on .NET framework 4.0 which did not have IReadOnlyCollection<T> interface at all.

In order to check whether one of the aforementioned security updates was installed, you could review the version of C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\System.dll

For the regular .NET framework 4.5.2 this version looks like 4.5.2... , but if a security update was installed it will look like 4.0.30319.36388.

The Final Solution - So Simple It Hurt

Upgrading the .NET framework to 4.6.1 solved this issue because we were back to having the System.Collections.Concurrent.ConcurrentBag<T> class from System.dll which implemented the IReadOnlyCollection<T> interface.