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Drupal 9 migrations for larger Drupal 7 sites don't have to be painful. In fact, it doesn't take nearly as long as you think, and if you don't act quickly, your Drupal installation will be at risk. A D7 migration of any size that hasn't already begun is pushing it. And we’re not being dramatic.

How much time do I have left?

When it comes to Drupal web apps and websites, migrations from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 (or Drupal 9) are a hot topic lately. Of course, everyone is thinking about it these days, especially Drupal site owners and managers... In November 2022, Drupal 7 will reach its end-of-life (EOL) date. The PSA where the EOL extension was announced can be found on the Drupal site. Granted, it's a little confusing, as it means that Drupal 8 hits EOL a year before Drupal 7 does.

Even a small Drupal 7 site doesn't have the luxury of time, regardless of the size and complexity of the installation. The better agencies will soon fill their calendars to capacity if they haven't already. It will take at least a year for an inexperienced firm to complete your migration properly - if they are able to do it at all.

In addition to the sheer size of a Drupal 7 installation, a range of other factors affects the migration process:

  • Is there an in-house team that is familiar with Drupal?
  • Is there any custom code? 
  • How much does it cost? 
  • Do you have a Drupal expert maintaining your application, even if there's no bespoke code? 
  • Was your software developed/maintained by the same agency from the beginning?

Do we need a Drupal expert like Code Enigma for Drupal 9 migrations for larger Drupal 7 sites?

There are Drupal sites that are small enough to entrust their migrations to a freelancer or agency with little experience; however, these sites are in the minority. Drupal was designed for enterprises and government organisations that needed a flexible, scalable, adaptive, and secure CMS. As a result, it was enthusiastically embraced by these groups.

In the time remaining before Drupal 7's end of life, even a minor Drupal migration would be tough for a single developer or small team to do properly.

Code Enigma has 10 years of Drupal expertise. Why is that important? Because we have lived and breathed it for that long that there are no nasty surprises, thanks to our thorough processes.

Drupal 7 support isn’t the best option - but it is a temporary solution

You do have alternative options to upgrading to Drupal 9.

Drupal 7 support is extended until November 2022. You might be shocked by the amount of effort required to migrate your Drupal 7 instances. But you don’t have to be surprised if you have a site audit first.

One or more of the following considerations should be taken into account by the cautious planner

  • How big is your site?
  • What percentage of bespoke functionality is there?
  • What is the total number of integrations?
  • Is your website updated weekly?
  • Do you have restricted content?
  • Are there any user groups that are restricted in some way?
  • What content forms are used and available?
  • Do you make use of revisions? 
  • If yes, how many do you keep?
  • Does your agency have an SLA that suits you?

Drupal 10 will be with us in June 2022

The process to transition from Drupal 7 to either Drupal 8 or Drupal 9 will require sufficient time for a large-scale Drupal installation. In fact, you'd migrate to D9 at this point unless you've already begun migrating to Drupal 8, which will be decommissioned in November). 

In over a decade, the upgrade to Drupal 9 is the easiest of all. However, Drupal 10 is already scheduled for release in June. Meaning, the version of Drupal that you'll be running, come June 2022, will be three major versions behind the current version.

As you plan your move, your choice of service provider will, of course, be a critical factor. The most experienced agencies will be in high demand. 

Regardless of whether your budget is ready to go, those arriving late will have to wait in line or seek assistance elsewhere. That would be a hassle for anyone responsible for Drupal 7 installations. Two options are available in such a scenario, neither of which is appealing. 

Depending on your risk appetite, you can either hire an agency that wasn’t your first choice (and hope for the best).
Wait until your star player can fit you in (and hope you don’t encounter any vulnerabilities).

Let's consider what defines a large, or complex, Drupal 7 migration

In our experience, "large-scale" refers to many things. A migration might be labelled "large-scale" for reasons other than its size. We've moved systems with a few nodes and revisions, but they included a significant amount of custom functionality. It takes time to go through volumes of custom modules that were developed from scratch.

As a result, the migrations took a long time (and money) to finish.
Code Enigma's Drupal professionals have successfully completed large-scale migrations that we’re proud of. We can handle hundreds of thousands of nodes, changes, and dozens of bespoke modules.

When you have multiple admins and/or users creating and editing content, the number of nodes and revisions can really add up.

Moreover, legacy features can be overlooked if they are not regularly used, but may still be necessary. As a result of multiple agencies/service providers working on an application over the years, different sections and/or layers may have been structured inconsistently. 

We’re happy to step in on a project in need of rescuing, too. If you are having trouble managing your Drupal 7 migration with your existing agency, we can take over and manage the migration, no matter how large or complex.

Over the years, Code Enigma has been involved with more than a few rescue projects. If an issue with Drupal is critical, a Drupal specialist will be needed.

Extended Support for Drupal 7

All is well. Could we not just stick to Drupal 7? It's possible. Though it isn't a fantastic choice. Why? Sticking with Drupal 7 makes getting feature updates and/or new functionality for your applications extremely difficult (not to mention slow and expensive). All new features and capabilities are being developed for Drupal 8 and Drupal 9. Drupal 7 apps will have to be rewritten from scratch to incorporate new features and capabilities.

There also aren’t that many Extended Support suppliers (D7ES). While there are still many developers available, there are just a few companies that provide long-term maintenance (like security updates). 

Furthermore, they are not cheap. Upgrades from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9 entail a clear cost, but they are only one-time expenses.

D7ES is a recurring expense. Not only that, it is a cost that will be difficult to escape. Consider if you have D6 site and want to add some features. Finding an agency capable of the job would be tough. Over the last few years, just a few agencies have collaborated with D6 in any major way. You may have to accept the limits of your application.

In addition, if (when) the Drupal Security Team (DST) ceases to monitor Drupal 7 core and contrib, the likelihood of reactive security upgrades drops considerably. This would make your application more vulnerable to security flaws.

If I’m on Drupal 8, do I need to rush to Drupal 9?

Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is an upgrade. So, no.

It's a lot simpler process. It’s still a huge upgrade; it's just not as big as a Drupal 7 to Drupal 8/Drupal 9 migration.

Life gets much simpler once you migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8/Drupal 9. Moving from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8/Drupal 9 is a significant undertaking because Drupal 8 (and later editions) is entirely new. Drupal's fundamental underpinnings have changed dramatically. As Drupal has progressed from being a strong and robust framework for enterprises and government, it has become the CMS of choice.

Drupal 8 is good. Drupal 9 is better

A powerful platform like Drupal is able to meet the complex requirements of any organisation, whether public or private. In addition to its efficiency and effectiveness for developers, it now provides greater ease of use for administrators and site visitors.

What are the benefits of Drupal 9?

  • Hundreds of new capabilities
  • Improved performance and scalability
  • New backwards compatibility features arriving every 6 months (9.1 and upward)
  • New features to Drupal Core (9.1 and upward)
  • Full multilingual support in all content and configuration
  • Better keyboard navigation and accessibility
  • Routinely supported by security fixes
  • Mobile-first UI
  • Manage reusable media

Do you want to plan and migrate to Drupal 9? Connect with our Drupal experts to ensure your migration is straightforward whether you’re on D7 or D8.

What defines large scale?

Let's start your Drupal 9 migration journey

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