The end is near for Drupal 6. It's been a long time coming, and the upcoming release of Drupal 8 on November 19th is cause for celebration, but also cause for grave concern for some. It means that Drupal 6 is officially on its deathbed.
Drupal 6 will slip into the grave as officially “unsupported” on February 24th, 2016, and that date represents a 3 month stay of execution. Drupal 6, you had a great run... an incredible 8 years and 11 days as a supported project! Of the 1.24 million sites running Drupal as of today, there are still at least 125,327 Drupal 6 sites out there that are in dire need of attention. So what’s all this really mean for all those existing Drupal 6 sites?
For starters, if you’re on Drupal 6 your site is about to be a walking security vulnerability. Why? "End of Life” means that Drupal’s security team won’t be creating new security releases for Drupal 6. Yikes! You might want to check and make sure your business insurance is current. Can you say “liability”? Granted, there is the makings for a Drupal 6 Long Term Support effort from individual companies in conjunction with official Drupal security channels in its early stages, but unless your organization has a HUGE project with extensive customizations that will be a massive undertaking to upgrade, staying put on Drupal 6 shouldn't really be a consideration.
One of the major attractions for businesses to use Drupal is the community and the support it provides. If you’re still hanging out on Drupal 6, the Drupal community love boat is setting sail and you’re not on it. That means that your support requests for Drupal 6 versions of modules will fall on deaf ears in the issue queues. Shiny new modules for Drupal 6? Nope. Bug fixes for Drupal 6 problems you encounter in contributed modules? You’re on a deserted island. No chance. And let's not forget talent acquisition for Drupal 6 projects will only get harder as time goes on. Developers want to work with the latest technologies. If your site is on Drupal 6, you’ll be last on the list of projects they're interested in working on, and that shrinks the talent pool for you while increasing labor costs.
Are you Still on Drupal 6?
Are you still running a Drupal 6 site? If you are, the time to act is now (technically, the time to act was about 4 years ago when Drupal 7 was released but hey, hindsight is 20/20). It’s time to get your budget in order, gather your team and get shopping for a solid Drupal development shop that can revive your online presence and get you up to speed on either Drupal 7 or 8.
There are several options when it comes to upgrading from Drupal 6. Maybe migrating right to Drupal 8 using the Drupal 8 migration path in Drupal core is a the best move for you. Maybe Drupal 7 is the best fit, since it's battle tested and has plenty of life left in it. Not sure what’s best for your particular site? Let’s talk, we can guide you to safer (and more modern) shores.