In this article, we explain 4 key business benefits of upgrading to Drupal 8.

Bridging the Technical-Business Divide on Drupal 8

As a technology development company, we can rave all day about the benefits, and yes also pitfalls, of a core standard framework such as Drupal 8. We can compare it to its rivals and even with itself, older versions of course, and give you a long list of benefits. But the truth is that in any industry, technical users and business users live in separate bubbles. It is a fact that no matter how intertwined these two worlds are, they will never speak the same language. That is why it is very important to bridge the gap between technical and business mindsets.

Because of our mindset, developers can see technological benefits through spec sheets, performance metrics, and functions sets. We see things differently than others, so it sometimes boggles our minds when a client would prefer to stick with an old version such as Drupal 6 or 7, instead of migrating or starting a project with Drupal 8 at the onset. But what we fail to understand is that these decisions are often politically motivated and business-related instead of technical. And without this technical background, these reasons often lead clients to underestimate the benefits and positive impact of making the right technological choice, hence why it’s vital to bridge the technical-business gap for upgrading to Drupal 8. What follows are four core reasons you should begin with or upgrade to Drupal 8.

Cost of Ownership

We will start with something every business-oriented user understands – cost of ownership. The platform itself does not have any license fees and it is open source, however, there are still costs with regards to effort, ownership, and opportunity cost in the long run.

The cost of ownership is composed of the time and effort spent into the project, the opportunity cost when it goes down for any length of time, and the money used to pay salaries working on it and hardware/software maintenance over its lifetime.

Considering that Drupal 6 is dead and Drupal 7 is nearing its end-of-life, and thus will no longer be supported, there will be an additional effort cost in terms of maintenance and upgrades. Eventually its features will be unsupported and deprecated so any platform-related bugs will have to be fixed in a custom manner, so there will also be a cost of maintenance that cannot be ignored. Fortunately, there are still reliable providers that support these-end-of-life products, because the reality is that a lot of businesses are still stuck on the older platforms, requiring extensive support. We here at North Studio offer such services and we know around the pitfalls of supporting an old version.

But what’s really the value proposition of Drupal 8, why is it better to start a project with Drupal 8 in terms of cost? Well, this time around the release cycle frequency increased but the process has been made painless. This means that we may get more frequent updates but it takes less effort to do each one, ensuring that we are always up-to-date. And as the platform matures, the reward for the constant updates is a cleaner codebase. This makes maintenance easy and less prone to breakage, further reducing costs.

Major release transition has also been made easier so the long-term maintenance cost has also been lessened. Compare that to how hard it is to move from Drupal 6 to 7. It is easy to migrate to Drupal 8 from older versions.

On the Cutting Edge

Embracing Drupal 8 means embracing cutting edge technology. There are some major features that have been added to Drupal 8 that is not available in 7 such as features that enhance editorial and user experiences. Easy migration and upgrades are also major features in Drupal 8.

In previous iterations of Drupal, major changes meant changing the major release number such as 6, 7, and 8. But now that has changed with 8, they have opted to allow major version changes within the same major version. This is a game changer for the platform, as it allows greater creative freedom for users and greater maintainability in the technical perspective.

With the major update brought by Drupal 8.6, we see a greater emphasis on ease of use as the customer experience has been leveled up. This has not been available in previous releases.

We keep talking about upgrading being made easier, and it really has been. It’s the major change that Drupal has needed for a long time, which leads me to the next point.

Easy migration

The biggest reason organizations do not want to transition from 6 into 7 is because of the pain it will bring. It will be costly and problems can occur at every juncture. But with 8.6 this excuse no longer holds any water. Migration pain is no longer a valid excuse at this point and organizations that take the plunge will reap all the benefits of Drupal 8 without the pain.

In Drupal 8.6, Migrate Drupal (major version migrator) and Migrate Drupal UI (interface upgrade) both provide solutions for easily upgrading older sites. A built-in user interface has been made available for the sole purpose of upgrading your site to Drupal 8.

There is also a Migrate Drupal Multilingual module that can upgrade multilingual sites, but it is currently experimental but very promising. This also means that migrating from 8 to 9 is also as painless and will be treated as an upgrade similar to moving from 8.5 to 8.6.

Buckling Up for the Long Haul

The last major business reason to upgrade to Drupal 8 has to do with a longer term view. Drupal 8 isn’t just another major version, it is something more, a push for flexibility and future proofing of technologies. The web has changed a lot. Before, it was enough just to have a pretty yet static website, then we started to mass adopt mobile and the philosophy moved to mobile-first. This is because content is consumed more using mobile devices than desktops. And because of the fundamentally different device platforms, notably screen size, a website that has not been developed with mobile in mind will probably not work well. Drupal has been riding with this trend.

But now, it has become obvious that there will be other revolutions in media consumption, it is inevitable. That is why Drupal 8 brings the API-first initiative, a drive to deliver a content-first approach rather than device-first. It is a push to drive content to the server so that it can be provided to an application regardless of device. This will mean new types of integrations and full or progressive decoupling of content that has been curated with Drupal. Web pages may still be delivered with Drupal but certain aspects of it can be made dynamic by calling content through REST APIs.

Futureproof your CMS

The web is quickly changing and it changes the business landscape along with it, your CMS should be able to conform to this. We cannot afford to be reactive in terms of trends, we need to be proactive. A CMS that delivers on this means that we will not have to spend thousands of dollars again and again in the future in order to keep up with trends, these things will simply be built-in.

There is still so much to be said about Drupal 8 and why it should be your next CMS version, but we think that the above are the most compelling business-related reasons to make that case. But as with any project, the chosen technologies should be fit-for-purpose. What I mean by this is that if your website is in Drupal 6 and that it already functions as best as it could, and will not need to support other features in the future, then there is absolutely no need to migrate to Drupal 8. However, if that site needs to move forward, follow trends and evolve with the state of content, then there is definitely a need to migrate to Drupal 8.

If you are unsure whether you need to migrate or just need a competent partner to provide your Drupal needs, do not hesitate to contact North Studio and our Drupal experts will be happy to serve you.