Sitecore 8.1 and the cloud xDB

I just finished upgrading Mathematica Policy Research to Sitecore 8.1.  This was my first time working with Sitecore’s cloud xDB, so I wanted to recap my notes.

Getting Started:
The information provided seemed very pamphlet like in my opinion, so getting started was a little tricky until you understand how it works.  Sitecore’s cloud xDB sets up your initial cloud instance (implicitly) using your license information and a few settings within the Sitecore.Cloud.Xdb.config.  I guess I was expecting some form of communication with the cloud team to let them know which version of Sitecore I was running, etc. It gets the version information from the Sitecore instance itself. The name comes from the DeploymentId setting so make sure you properly name it prior to firing up Sitecore. DeploymentType is always set to PROD as they stopped supporting NonProd in 2015. Deployment Region is another one to think through before spinning up as well. I ended up using West US (no East US?), but depending on your location this setting will vary. 
Once I got through that, the setup was really easy and I understood the approach they decided to take. Of course, I still wasn’t done as I encountered a few issues. 

Reporting was throwing errors!
When I logged into Experience Analytics, I was greeted with errors on all reports. The problem was that the Redirect Module was intercepting all reporting service calls as if reporting service’s name was Jay Cutler! I managed to stop the interceptions by added the reporting service paths to the RedirectManager.IgnorePages setting. Mo’ Modules = Mo’ Problems

Don’t make assumptions!
You know what they say when you assume: you make an ass out of u and me. I was under the impression that the xDB was only storing partial page view information. Why? Well, I wrote a query to check trending content and used it to test the data capture. The query I wrote was utilizing a view called Traffic. Traffic doesn’t contain all the pageview traffic as one might think. It only stores the visitor’s first pageview! So don’t make the same mistake! If you want to query pageviews, use FACT_Pageviews.

The cloud xDB setup really is that easy, but there are still potential for problems depending on your particular Sitecore solution. I think most of my problems stemmed from preexisting modules and one major assumption gone wrong. If starting with a clean 8.1 solution, I imagine this would’ve fired right up! 

Future topics on xDB:

  • Building a trending content lookup against the cloud xDB
  • Hiding items and UrlAgents from being reported to xDB