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Planning for Drupal 9

April 24, 2019


We’re using Drupal 7, should we migrate to Drupal 9? What are the advantages of moving to Drupal 8 now versus waiting until 9? How do we prepare for Drupal 9?

We work through these questions with our client partners and the community on a regular basis. If your organization is using Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 today, then below is useful information that will help with your migration plans to Drupal 8 and 9. 

TL;DR -- Drupal 9 is being built in Drupal 8 and is backwards compatible. If you’re on Drupal 7, don’t wait until Drupal 9 to begin your upgrade. There is no value waiting on Drupal 9 and there are plenty of advantages your organization will benefit from with a migration to Drupal 8 including; increased security, simplified upgrade path to Drupal 9, improved performance, and a better editorial, developer, and customer experience. In short, you’ll miss competitive advantages for the next 2 years if you wait for Drupal 9. If you’re already using Drupal 8, you’re well on your way to the benefits of Drupal 9. Keep Drupal 8 up to date to mitigate security risks. 

Drupal 7 End of Life

As of April 7, 2019, there were over 290K websites using Drupal 8. With our migration of Manhattan Associates, Olympus, Pegasystems, and Guardian Insurance websites (to name a few) to Drupal 8, Mediacurrent is an industry leader in understanding, planning, and executing migration projects.

“End of Life” is the date when the Drupal community officially stops supporting Drupal 7. Drupal 7’s end of life has been extended to Q4 2021, giving you time to prepare your organization for change. 

Source: Dries Buytaert, How to Prepare for Drupal 9 

How Does Drupal 7 End of Life Impact My Website?

When Drupal 7 support ends, there will be no more Drupal core updates to Drupal 7 - even for critical security issues. The contributed modules that power your site will also no longer be actively tested and reviewed, patches and security evaluation will depend on your internal resources or partners.  


Average Cost of a Security Breach

One recent study found, “The global average cost of a data breach to a business is $3.86 million, and in the U.S. the average price tag swells to $7.91 million per breach...” 

And a study from 2018 found 63% of hacked sites running Drupal, had outdated versions when hacked.  Ensuring that you manage the security implications of Drupal 7’s End of Life is vital to the health of your organization.

Migrating to Drupal 8 is More Than Security

Drupal 8.6 is a significant upgrade because of its emphasis on ease of use. This version levels up the customer experience, making it easier and less expensive to migrate from older versions, easier to install, as well as easier for marketing teams to deliver impact, faster. With a highly engaged community focused on delivering features that make customers shine, I’m excited about this release and what is on the horizon for Drupal.

- Megan Sanicki, Executive Director of the Drupal Association

Check out this Acquia and Mediacurrent webinar for more info on the benefits of Drupal 8.

benefits of Drupal 8

Learn to Love the Upgrade Path

Upgrading your website is the opportunity to revolutionize the way you think about the web as a business tool. If you have a Drupal 7 site, you’ve most likely been on it for a few years. How many little usability improvements have you considered in that time?

  • Is my design dated? 
  • Do my editors like the experience? 
  • Is my site responsive? 
  • Does my site build reflect modern practices in SEO, accessibility, and user experience?

An upgrade gives your organization the opportunity to reexamine how your implementation of Drupal, strategy, and design while reducing security vulnerabilities, costs, and improving competitive advantages. 

With Drupal 8, you can take advantage of its innovation today as well as it’s built-in upgrade path to Drupal 9, so start planning a migration path internally as well as with your partners.

Should We Wait for Drupal 9?

It’s essential to know a migration to Drupal 8 or 9 or another CMS is inevitable if you’re on Drupal 7 today. Pausing your migration until 9 (release date June 3rd 2020) doesn’t provide long-term value. Your organization will continue to miss out on the features, benefits, and expertise you’ll find with Drupal 8 as well as its simplified upgrade path to Drupal 9.

Drupal 9 is being built in Drupal 8 and is fully backwards compatible. Drupal founder Dries Buytaert wrote, “With the release of Drupal 8, we moved Drupal core to use a continuous innovation model. Rather than having to wait for years to get new features, users now get sizable advances in functionality every six months.”

A Drupal 9, 10, 11...upgrade will not be the same mountain from previous versions of Drupal given Dries agile model for Drupal development and release model. It more closely aligns today with a typical saas release plan. To take advantage of the full potential of Drupal your best option is upgrading to Drupal 8 with the help of an experienced agency partner. When Drupal 9 rolls out, you’ll be able to sit back, relax, and take immediate action on the update.

What Are My Next Steps?

Mitigating risk is simple with an experienced partner. We advise our clients to take the following steps:

  1. Ensure your website will be secure after Community Support ends. You can do this by developing an internal plan to monitor future Drupal 7 security releases, or engaging with a hosting provider like Pantheon, or agency partner, like Mediacurrent, to cover you while you plan and execute the move off of Drupal 7.
  2. It’s likely the time is now for a reassessment of how you use the web. Partnering with an expert partner like Mediacurrent will help you to reassess your website plans, determine if your Digital and Design strategies are effective, and ensure your next platform serves your needs, customer needs, and can adapt in the future. Check out 20 Things to Know Before Choosing a Digital Partner for your Site Migration for help. 
  3. Once you have identified the correct platform, plan and execute your migration. By taking care of security first, and securing the right partner, you can take the time to correctly plan and build your next Digital Platform in Drupal.

Migrating from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9

Drupal 8’s end of life is also November 2021. Updating from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is just that -- an update. If you’re on Drupal 8 today, keep Drupal 8 up to date, and be prepared to make the switch by including it as a part of your 12-month plan.

Final Thoughts

If you’re on Drupal 7, then you’re okay for now, but the sooner you plan for the change the more prepared your organization will be to create and show value from your Drupal investment.

However, transitioning to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9 comes down to a number of factors and is not a quick decision. Do the due diligence work of understanding the requirements and needs of your website and your customers, then consider that information with the reality of your budget, capabilities, and timeline. We work through these questions with our clients on a regular basis and the reality is the answer is unique to every organization.

To learn more about our process and how to successfully navigate these waters, feel free to contact us directly.

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