Manage Your Appian Cloud Upgrade

Appian releases a new version of its platform quarterly. Each release brings valuable new features for both end users and designers. They also provide resolutions to prior issues and enhance security. Converting your Appian Cloud instances to the latest release is a fully automated process, and comes at no additional cost. If you run a self-managed installation of Appian, refer to this Upgrade Guide for help on updating your platform.

Typically, our Support team will suggest an upgrade to the latest version within 30 days of its release. We recommend keeping your environment versions up-to-date, ideally within two releases of the current one. If your platform engages multiple Appian teams, it would be beneficial to have an Appian Center of Excellence leading the process.

Performing version upgrades is an essential part of platform maintenance and can usually be scheduled just two weeks after a release is made generally available. Not performing these upgrades can mean expiration of Support Services for your installation. During the upgrade process, Appian will make every effort to minimize service interruptions by performing maintenance activities outside of regular business hours.

1. Make a plan

Every new version of Appian is backwards compatible, so your applications should run as usual post-upgrade. If however you choose to leverage a new feature, or there are significant UI changes as part of the upgrade, it’s possible your users will be affected by the change. Therefore, it's important to make a plan and communicate changes effectively throughout the upgrade process. Some important steps in the planning process include:

  • Review Appian Release Notes 
  • Identify and alert stakeholders of any significant changes
  • Make plan to test and deploy upgrades

Before initiating your cloud upgrade, take some time to review the Release Notes and Product Webinar for the latest Appian release. This will help you identify new features your developers can utilize and create a list of deprecations that may require revisiting. Ensure that you're reading the latest set of release notes, or the version applicable to your upgrade, by selecting the version drop-down menu and selecting the latest Appian version.

Application Vision Board

As you review the Release Notes, keep an eye out for any UX changes, as you may need to notify users of these improvements and how it affects the application experience.

Once an impact assessment of the upgrade has been made, identify all stakeholders, including end users, developers, and support staff. Notify these stakeholders about specific changes either through a site banner or via an email detailing the upgrade. Good communication is fundamental to a successful upgrade.

Lastly, you should draft an upgrade deployment plan before initiating the upgrade process. This plan should take the following into consideration:

Upgrade Timeline

You may plan to upgrade your test environment on Monday, while scheduling your Dev and Production environments for Friday of the same week. Your upgrade cadence can be discussed with Support when scheduling your upgrades. The takeaway here is having adequate time to validate the test environment before upgrading Dev and Production. This is important to note since you can’t deploy code from higher to lower versions of Appian (23.2 to 23.1), and as such deployments will be paused during upgrades.

Test Case Identification

Before you upgrade your environments, you should determine test cases and validation procedures for each environment. This might include things such as:

  • Smoke testing
  • Regression testing
  • Automated testing

See the Appian Testing Guide for a comprehensive overview of testing in Appian.

2. Schedule your upgrade

Authorized technical support contacts will receive an email notifying them about the exact date, time, and duration of the maintenance window to upgrade their site(s). If the proposed upgrade schedule doesn’t fit your needs, or you want to do a staged rollout for your environments (recommended), you’ll need to update the upgrade schedule directly from the Cloud Installation site provided in the upgrade email.

You can also coordinate with the Appian support team by opening a support case on Forum. The support team will help you establish an upgrade sequence, and talk through any unusual circumstances or considerations for your upgrade.

Appian Cloud Upgrade Scheduler

Every environment that is hosted on the Appian cloud will need to be scheduled for an upgrade. The Test environment is often upgraded first to limit the number of interruptions in Development and Production. This also allows for the possibility of rolling back and aborting the update if needed. The Development and Production environment upgrades will be scheduled shortly after the Test upgrade, with some time allotted for testing in between.

Communicate with support if any changes are necessary to the schedule, and be sure to fully validate your test environment before upgrading the Development and Production environments. Keep in mind that there will be a pause on deployments while updates are being made to a given environment.

3. Perform a trial run

Once the cloud upgrade is completed in your testing environment, revisit your upgrade deployment plan to perform the necessary tests. Smoke testing is a good way to quickly check for any major issues, while regression testing allows you to examine the upgrade in greater depth. See our Appian Testing Guide for a complete overview of testing in Appian. 

To reduce the amount of manual effort involved in testing, Appian also has Automated Testing you can employ throughout the application development lifecycle. We recommend implementing automated testing early in your projects, as it will greatly reduce upgrade testing costs and allow for a faster, smoother update process.

Be aware that updates to your automated tests may be needed if UX changes have occurred in the new Appian version. Changes that affect your plug-ins and integrations should also be noted. The Deprecations and Removals sections of the Appian Release Notes are a great place to start testing for such changes.

4. Complete your upgrade

Once you've fully validated the upgrade in your Test environment, you should upgrade Production, followed by Development. Ending with the Development environment gives you the option of handling last minute hotfixes and avoids blocking your development efforts. Smoke testing should be again be performed in Production and Development to test for critical application functionality.

In the unlikely event that you experience something unexpected after the upgrade, contact Appian Technical Support for assistance. Support will usually be able to provide a work around, or help plan an application hotfix to resolve the issue. If the issue can’t be resolved in this manner, you'll also be able to restore to the latest backup pre-upgrade. All of these options should be discussed with Appian Technical Support to ensure any issues are addressed appropriately.

Be prepared to support your developers and end users post-upgrade, particularly if there have been UX or integrations related changes. If changes are significant enough, be sure to revise your supporting documentation and training materials.