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February 1, 2022 / kiranpatils

Ten learnings on my 10th Sitecore MVP Award

Sitecore Announced a list of 235 Sitecore MVPs for the year 2022: https://www.sitecore.com/company/news-events/press-releases/2022/01/sitecore-announces-2022-most-valuable-professionals

I’m grateful that I’m getting this award for the 10th year in a row. But this is as special as my first one.

I would like to thank each and everyone for appreciating and motivating me to keep going for 10 years. Especially family!

I’ve 235 posts on my blog, various speaking engagements, 11 Sitecore Modules, a podcast, and various offline contributions (mentoring, helping, teaching).

Roughly, I believe I must’ve spent ~1000+ hours in the last ten years to earn this! I believe it’s worth it. Because as Scott Hanselman says we all have a finite number of keys left and we should give something to the universe. Which makes human lives better.

I also wanted to make sure that I do “Deliberate Practice” to learn Sitecore: https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/97-things-every/9780596809515/ch22.html [Glad I came across this book and good teachers/mentors in the early part of my career]

On this day, I thought to pen down my 10 biggest learnings for you. With the hope that it inspires someone, somewhere on this earth:

  1. Hustle : I’ve done all Community contributions during my off-hours. This side hustle helps me stay on my toes and brings the best out of me. Remember “There will be plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead”
  2. First Step is Important: 10 years ago, I had no guidance and at that point of time there was not a lot of good web material to help us understand the overall process. But don’t worry about all those things. Just begin! Remember “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
  3. Resources is not a problem: Initially, I didn’t have great connectivity at home, I used to write blog posts mostly in the night time. Where in India not everyone has big homes or separate workrooms (Things are much better nowadays). So, I used to find a small corner in the house and share my learnings and also make sure that I don’t disturb family members! [That’s why I can’t thank them enough] Remember “It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you”
  4. Lift up others: I feel proud that I was able to help others become Sitecore MVP Award. And few of them also continued that tradition to share their learnings with others and help others achieve the same. I also wrote blog post about it : https://sitecorebasics.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/basics-of-sitecore-mvp-award/ (And at Sitecore Community Events it feels great when people come to me and say that they got inspired my blog post to become MVP). Remember “You become strong by lifting others up, not pulling them down.”
  5. Don’t expect any rewards : I believe every human should do something in their day to day life to do something without expecting any rewards. Just imagine how better the world will be! Also, Universe has a way to give back. I firmly believe that “If you throw great things at Universe, Universe will throw great things back to you!” [This is true for “not so great” things as well. So, beware! :)]. For example, I started blogging without any expectations. But Horizontal US team noticed my contribution and they reached out to start India operation. Which has grown 150x in ~9 years and I also got a chance to move to the US. Read more : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/learnings-taking-operation-from-2-100-smiles-kiran-patil-1d/
  6. Keep learning : In 10 years, Sitecore has been making updates to their products to keep up with market. So, you always need to keep yourself up-to-date. Remember “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
  7. Plan and contribute small : I always plan my contributions, keep a note of it and keep doing it regularly. Remember “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” (I like this quote. But I don’t like the elephant eating metaphor. Hope we find a better alternative quote one day)
  8. Preservance: I’ve seen a lot of over-enthusiastic folks, who start their contribution and work on it aggressively for weeks/months. Then they stop contributing. Don’t do that. Remember “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
  9. Avoid burnout : This connects to #7 and #8. Avoid overcommitting. Remember “Slow and steady wins the race, not the person who wants to climb the whole stairs in one stride.”
  10. Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish : This quote from Steve Jobs inspires me a lot. Never look back, at what you’ve achieved. That will make you complacent. But always look ahead and see what things you want to learn. For example, In upcoming year, I would like to learn more about Sitecore’s Cloud offering, OrderCloud, CDP,Sitecore Send, Orchasteration and so on. Remember “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”!

Thanks for reading thus far. I wrote this post on my PTO. Because I want you to win! [Yes, you!]. Good luck with your Sitecore MVP Journey!

Always happy to help! 🙂

January 11, 2022 / kiranpatils

Redis error visual reference map

My dear readers, Happy new year! Great Job for being through 2021! (You’ve survived one more level, Hope you are up for the next one! 🙂 I’m sure we all will be through this!)

Thanks for your love and support throughout the years! (To be precise 10 years!)

Reviewing Redis’s errors always scared me (You too?) and I couldn’t understand what it is trying to say. Recently I was trying to delve deeper into it and came across this reference: https://stackexchange.github.io/StackExchange.Redis/Timeouts which is hard to remember (Initially). So, thought to come across a Visual reference map. So, I can easily reference it (Visually!) and thought to share it with you as well!

Hope you find it useful If you would like to amend and make it better. Please reach out to me.

Happy Redis Troubleshooting!

December 22, 2021 / kiranpatils

Interactive Sitecore CDP and Personalize Learning Mind Map

I’ve spent a few weeks learning Sitecore CDP & Personalize and thought to share my learnings with you!

As it is a new product it takes some time to get your head around it. To simplify your learning, I’ve crafted an Interactive learning mind map. (Small holiday gift!) It covers major topics at a high level. Each topic contains:

  • Important notes
  • External direct link to Sitecore document

Click here: https://www.mindomo.com/mindmap/438021ff6de3433b81b4b458dc3ca675

Please comment on this post, If you would like to contribute to this mind map.

Wish you a Happy Holidays with your loved ones, See you next year with more Sitecore basic learnings!

December 22, 2021 / kiranpatils

Learnings from Sitecore CDP and Personalize Certification Exam

Recently I was able to appear for the #Sitecore CDP Exam and I would like to share my learnings with you. So, it helps you to also achieve the same!

  1. Boxever fundamental training : https://learning.sitecore.com/pathway/boxever-training – This training really helped me to understand Boxever fundamentals. It will be good to start your learning journey from here:
    1. Boxever Training Collection (12h)
    2. Boxever End User Certificate Assessment
  2. Partner Enablement Technical Course – 5 Days : 5 days deep dive training really helped me to get deep technical knowledge of the product.
  3. Self Study Guide : https://learning.sitecore.com/exam/study-guide-sitecore-cdp-and-personalize-certification-exam
    1. Please go through all links and try to clear a sample test.
  4. Optional – To make your Sitecore CDP Learning Journey easy, I’ve crafted Interactive learning mind map. This is totally optional and you can skip this. If you believe, you already have your fundamentals clear.
  5. Exam Details
    • Exam Format
      • The Sitecore CDP and Personalize Certification Exam is a multiple-choice exam proctored through Webassessor. To pass the exam and earn certification, you must score at least 80%; if you score lower and want to retake, you will need to repurchase the exam.
      • Exam is closed book
    • To book your exam
    • Prepare for an exam
      • Review all material #2 (Partner Enablement Technical Course – 5 Days) and #3 (Self Study Guide)
      • Practice as much as you can!

https://navansitecorenotes.blogspot.com/2021/12/sitecore-cdp-boxever-notes.html

December 14, 2021 / kiranpatils

Impact of apache-log4j-cve-2021-44228 for your Sitecore Applications

By this time you might have already heard/read about Apache Solr Log4J Security Vulnerability: https://solr.apache.org/security.html#apache-solr-affected-by-apache-log4j-cve-2021-44228

I’ve been also gathering information around it, As I was curious to know more about this and the impact of the same on Sitecore applications. I’ve gathered some basic information. Which thought to share with you as well!

Note: I’m not a security expert and don’t have a full visibility into your environment/implementation/setup. So, please take this advice as a guiding principle. But please work with your internal teams and follow their recommendations

Let’s delve into this further:

What is the apache-log4j-cve-2021-44228 security vulnerability?

The following excerpt from the Official Page describes an issue:

Source: https://solr.apache.org/security.html#apache-solr-affected-by-apache-log4j-cve-2021-44228

Would like to know more about this? Then please use the following image, it explains it nicely and also provides the solution to fix it (Which we will discuss in the next section)

Couldn’t resist sharing the following Image as it really says “1000+ words!” in this situation:

Image Credits: https://xkcd.com/2347 (Similar Image)

Have we been impacted by this Security Vulnerability?

  • Versions Affected: 7.4.0 to 7.7.3, 8.0.0 to 8.11.0 : If your Solr version falls in to given list, then you are impacted by this issue. (Applies to : 9.2.0 (Initial Release) +)
  • Solr public access :
    • Update#4 : As per recent Twitter comments from Nick Wesselman and Per Manniche Bering, I learned that this issue can also impact your Solr if it’s not public. Solr logs queries, and attackers can try to provide malicious queries via user input.
    • If your Solr is not publicly accessible, Then you won’t be impacted by this issue. (As per my understanding and talking to Solr experts in my network. But if you think otherwise, please comment). This is usually the case with Sitecore applications as internal apps only needs to communicate with Solr and Solr should not be publicly accessible. In case, your team needs to troubleshoot Solr queries via Solr Admin Panel then it should be done using following ways
  • What If we are using SearchStax? :

How to fix this for my Sitecore Application?

Update #2: Sitecore KB Article (Covers steps for containerized environments): https://support.sitecore.com/kb?id=kb_article_view&sysparm_article=KB1001391

Update #5: If you are using Cloudflare WAF and you need more time to update your systems then you can also use Cloudflare WAF rules to protect your app from this vulnerability: https://blog.cloudflare.com/log4j-cloudflare-logs-mitigation/ (Note: This is a temporary solution)

Manual

https://solr.apache.org/security.html#apache-solr-affected-by-apache-log4j-cve-2021-44228 – Official page has listed a few options to fix this. As you know in the Sitecore world, You can’t upgrade to Solr if it’s not compatible with Sitecore, and in that case, Option#3 or #4 makes sense! (Highlighted in yellow below):

But if you have multiple Solr running (Solr + Zookeeper in ensemble mode) then it might be monotonous for you to make this change. In this case, the Automated approach is right for you!

Automated

Alex van Wolferen has already done this for you (Thanks!): https://www.alexvanwolferen.nl/sitecore-solr-fix-log4j-cve-2021-44228/

You can take his code and modify it as per your need: https://github.com/avwolferen/Sitecore.Solr-log4j-mitigation

Hope this post helps you answer a lot of questions you’ve about this vulnerability. If you’ve some new learnings, please drop your learnings in a comment, and will update the post!

I will keep this post updated as I learn more about it.

Verion History

  1. 13-Dec-2021 1 PM CT : Updated SearchStax Section with blog post link from SearchStax
  2. 13-Dec-2021 2.32 PM CT: Added Sitecore KB Article Link
  3. 13-Dec-2021 10.27 PM CT : Image Credits added
  4. 14-Dec-2021 07.37 AM CT : Update public solr access section as per twitter comments
  5. 14-Dec-2021 11.16 AM CT : Added Cloudflare WAF blog link
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