Migration is a fact of life on the Internet.
If you want to stay current, you have to be able to migrate between tech versions, major and minor.
Unfortunately, there are often challenges, real and imagined, between the version you are comfortable working with and the Next Generation (insert Star Trek joke here).
At Acquia, we’re well aware of the barriers. In fact, earlier this year our User Experience and Customer Experience teams spoke with customers about one of the most intimidating migration challenges in the Drupal world: between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8.
There is some urgency to this particular migration. Drupal 7, still a popular platform, will reach End of Life in November 2021, roughly a year after the launch of Drupal 9. "End of Life" (EOL) means that a version is no longer supported by core maintainers with fixes, security releases, or enhancements.
Drupal 8 will also reach EOL at this time, but the upgrade from D8 to D9 will not be significantly difficult -- more like a minor upgrade. A D7 to D9 upgrade, by contrast, will be close to a re-platforming, in terms of the work required by the web team. It makes sense, then, to upgrade to D7 to D8 now, and put the significant work behind you and get you on track for upgrades to D9 and beyond. Of course, it also makes sense to floss every night, spend time planning for retirement and get to the gym three times a week. How are those efforts coming along?
So yes, we all need help initiating and sustaining these worthy projects.
But before we get to that, let’s look at the migration challenges that the Acquia research team discovered. If you’re facing a D7>D8 migration, it’s good to know your enemy, right?
When I read the team’s internal report, two big challenges/roadblocks leapt out at me:
- Migrations are costly and time-consuming. And because of the many advances in D8, a D7>D8 migration is closer to a rebuild than an upgrade. The pre-planning requirements for a significant migration like D7>D8 are also often long and tedious. During this pre-planning stage, for example, web teams spend a lot of time doing content audits and mapping out redirects.
- It’s hard to demonstrate exactly why the move from D7 to D8 is necessary. Decision-makers feel like this is a “technical issue” and they see little value add.