When discussing options for 2020 with my Drupal clients, most of them were discussing how to better utilize the Layout Builder functionality, integrating it with new marketing platforms, or targeting users with personalized website experiences. These are all exciting things, but the major item my team and I bring to the table is the need to upgrade to Drupal 9 within the next year. Many users think, “We like Drupal 8 and do not see why we should migrate.” This is a fair question; however, the operative words are “need to upgrade.” This upgrade is something necessary and it needs to happen before November 2021.
As a CMS solution, Drupal uses an open source framework called Symfony 3 at its core. This framework exists in both versions of Drupal 7 and 8, which are currently supported. The issue is that Symfony 3 has a product end-of-life scheduled for November 2021. Think of this like a limited release car that was discontinued by the manufacturer. You can still use the product, but it gets harder to get parts as time goes on and with no official maintenance, it becomes a risk to use the car. The product end-of-life means that any new security vulnerabilities won’t be patched and there is no maintenance support if things go wrong which leaves the site susceptible to hackers or bad actors.
Drupal 9 is expected to be released in June 2020, utilizing the new Symfony 4.4 framework. All Drupal 7 and 8 websites will have only eighteen months to migrate to the new version. By November 2021, all Drupal platforms must be on Drupal 9. Luckily for Drupal 8 owners, the change is expected to be smoother than the previous transition from version 7 to 8. This transition is like trading in your old car for the newest model – it gives you a longer service warranty and provides the safety of being up to date.
If you are still running a Drupal 7 solution it will be much easier to migrate to Drupal 8, and then update to Drupal 9, rather than upgrading directly to version 9. The base information architecture is vastly different between 7 and 8, but still has the core framework being on Symfony 3. Drupal 9 will be utilizing the new Symfony 4.4 framework with all the basic architecture of Drupal 8, making the transition smooth. Trying to force a Drupal 7 site onto Drupal 9 directly would likely create a double-trouble situation that could make the migration more intensive and costly in the long-term.
Merkle highly recommends upgrading to Drupal 9, when available. We have an experienced practice that can help you manage this migration. We know what it takes to get your enterprise website upgraded, especially with the customized flexibility that comes innate to Drupal.
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