I am doing Sitecore development for couple of years now. During those years installation experience for Sitecore instances has dramatically changed. From Windows Installation setup, through SIM to SIF/SIA and recently to Docker. If you wonder, what are these abbreviations and how each tool can help you install / deploy Sitecore, this is the right article for you!
Options listed in this article are for development environments e.g. some of the options are impossible (or security wise not recommended 🙂 to be done on production.
You have 4 main installation / deployment options nowadays for Sitecore on your local / dev environment:
- Sitecore Install Assistant (SIA) / SIF-less
- Sitecore Installation Framework (SIF)
- Sitecore Instance Manager (SIM)
I have ordered the list of preferred installation option on your local environment and also based on version of Sitecore. Let’s dig deeper when and with which version of Sitecore to use each option.
Running Sitecore on Docker or Kubernetes Services is finally first-class citizen for Sitecore development / deployment and officially supported starting Sitecore 10. For previous versions of Sitecore it is still unofficial way of deploying Sitecore. Take a look in this Sitecore KB article for more details -> https://kb.sitecore.net/articles/161310.
You can find all necessary information for Sitecore 10+ on these links:
- https://www.sitecore.com/knowledge-center/getting-started/docker-a-quick-overview – Rob Earlam’s great quick overview of Docker
- http://containers.doc.sitecore.com/docs/intro – Sitecore Documentation page for all Container / Docker topics with hints how to use and deploy it
- https://github.com/Sitecore/docker-examples – Contains companion code for above mentioned documentation pages and are meant to meant to help you get started using Docker containers with Sitecore
For previous versions of Sitecore or just to get more information about Docker, I would definitely recommend reading these blog posts:
- Sitecore Docker for Dummies written by Mark Cassidy – Great introduction to Docker and how to use it with Sitecore
- Tips on migrating your Sitecore solution to Docker written by Vitalii Tylyk
- Approaches to Dockerizing Existing Sitecore Solutions for Local Development written by Gabe Streba – Great knowledge resource of tooling and processes for running Sitecore on Docker
- Yet another Sitecore Docker Series written by Rob Ahnemann – Very descriptive series of blog posts about running Sitecore in Docker
- Starting with Docker and Sitecore written by Martin Miles – Nice step by step guide – One of first I have seen I think 🙂
- Dockers Dockers Dockers with Sitecore for developers written by Göran Halvarsson – Really nice step by step guide on how to run Sitecore in Docker
2. Sitecore Install Assistant (SIA) / SIF-less
Sitecore Install Assistant (SIA) and SIF-less are Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) on top of SIF (mentioned below). SIA is official one provided by Sitecore and SIF-less is community driven GUI maintained by Rob Ahnemann. SIF-less was first kid in the town from these two options.
Sitecore Install Assistant or SIA was introduced together with Sitecore 9.2 and improved in Sitecore 9.3. In Sitecore 10, there has been no significant change to this tool. I am using this option on my development virtual machines as it’s the quickest way to install latest versions of Sitecore. As mentioned above, SIA is more or less just Graphical User Interface (GUI) for below mentioned Sitecore Installation Framework (SIF) as at the end wizard is running SIF PowerShell scripts with configuration you specify in SIA instalation wizard. It’s really easy to use and the configuration is portable so you can use the same settings on different machine (or your colleagues 🙂
You can find SIA files for each compatibile version’s download page. Take a look in my article about installing Sitecore 9.3 with SIA to give you hints how to configure and use it.
Before Sitecore Install Assistant was introduced with Sitecore 9.2, Rob Ahnemann had this idea of creating GUI on top of SIF. It is pure community driven (mainly his) effort to enhance this tool.
3. Sitecore Installation Framework (SIF)
This was introduced together with Sitecore 9.0 and its improved each new version of Sitecore. Lot of new features are added like installing Windows Server prerequisites, ability to work with Solr cores, provision Solr server locally with certificates, … These additions simplified installation process and removed need of “additional “scripts that we have used for Sitecore 9.0 and Sitecore 9.1 installations for example. SIF is great for provisioning Sitecore for DevOps but I would use abovementioned SIA for local dev environment as it’s much easier to install Sitecore with it.
You can always find installation, release information and other stuff about SIF on this link -> https://dev.sitecore.net/Downloads/Sitecore_Installation_Framework.aspx
4. Sitecore Instance Manager (SIM)
Sitecore Instance Manager was the ultimate tool we have used for several years (instead of msi installation package) and it was helping us provisioning Sitecore 7.x and Sitecore 8.x versions on our dev machines.
It was great to create databases and also mongoDBs. It had lot of additional features like editing hosts file, backup/restore Sitecore instance, … Just to name a few.
This tool is being still maintained but as there are no new versions of Sitecore 7 or Sitecore 8, it’s significance has decreased throughout the years.
It is supporting Sitecore 9.0 version but that is the last from 9. I would definitely look into 2 above mentioned options if you are provisining Sitecore 9+.
You can find its code and how to install it in this github repository.
Let the force be with your next Sitecore installation with any of these tools and with no errors 🙂