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Sep 23 2021
Sep 23

Last week, one of the largest and most populous counties in the United States launched a new website that a team of us at Promet Source had the privilege to design, build, and manage the content migration from a proprietary CMS. 

Seeing this beautiful multi site project through to completion was more than a labor of love. We viewed it as a rescue mission from a costly, locked-in software licensing contract and toward the flexibility and freedom of an open source, Drupal CMS. 

We are passionate at Promet about open source for government, as well as Drupal for government, for lots of good reasons. Quite simply, we believe that public funds should not pay for private code. 

Public funds should not pay for private code. 

While there are a few misconceptions about open source that can be a cause for concern within both the private and public sector, government entities at every level are moving toward open source, and this is particularly true within the federal government. Cost savings and security are the driving forces that are fueling open source software. Innovation, agility, accountability are powerful factors, as well. 

Mindset Shift

Most of us tend to be quite familiar and comfortable with a proprietary or competitive mindset in which the secret sauce of the solutions we’ve developed is held as a closely guarded secret. 

Even though the open source world operates more from the perspective of the Kenneth Blanchard’s famous quote: “None of us is as smart as all of us,” open source is not an “either/or” option. Open source is unequivocally, good for business, good for government and essentially just good.

Some may disagree with me on the advantages of open source, so let’s break it down into what I believe to be the four top reasons why open source is a better option for government websites. 

  1. Collective Brainpower
  2. Auditable Security
  3. Freedom from Costly Licensing Contracts K
  4. Value-Added Support Relationships
     

1. Collective Brainpower

Consider a web development agency that creates proprietary software for government sites. The company might employ 10, 20, or possibly even upwards of 100 highly trained and talented developers. 

None of us is as smart as all of us.

                            - Kenneth Blanchard

Nothing, however, that happens within or among a team of proprietary developers can compare to the innovation, collective energy, and sheer brainpower of the one million plus worldwide Drupal Community members, 100,000 of whom are are actively working with the code, making refinements, providing support, creating documentation, sharing networking opportunities, and building freely available modules that fuel new possibilities.
 

2. Auditable Security

Security is often the greatest source of skepticism with open source, but the fact is, better security is an essential advantage. Open source software allows for thorough auditing of the code for purposes of detecting potential security threats. Site owners can modify the code as they see fit -- whether to enhance security or customize a site to meet their specific needs. 

The U.S. Department of Defense is a strong advocate for open source, which on some level says all. Is there an organization on Earth that is more concerned with data confidentiality and security that the Department of Defense?

Reasons why we at Promet Source -- along with much of the Federal Government -- are on the same page as the DoD concerning open source software ties back to better and more extensive brainpower. The Drupal community is constantly monitoring for and alerting Drupal support partners to security threats, and users are thoroughly empowered on their own to shore up any vulnerabilities that they detect. 

Contrast the level of attention devoted to open source security to the relatively small and inherently limited teams that are focused on the security of proprietary software. 

On the surface, it might appear that proprietary software has a security edge due to the fact that the code is hidden. Lack of access to the code, however, does not translate into protection from a successful breach. Notorious attacks with a global impact and lesser-known activities of bad actors have proven this point time and time again. 
 

3. Freedom from Costly Licensing Contracts

When asked to site the primary advantage of open source, lower costs tends to top the list for both public and private sector.  

Federal, state, and local governments are on the hook for billions and billions of dollars every year for costly software licensing contracts. To an increasing degree, open source software is viewed as a means to gain control over IT spending. 

While apples-to-apples comparisons between proprietary and open source can be difficult, total cost of ownership for open source software is often far lower. Proprietary software generally includes both an upfront purchasing cost and an ongoing licensing fee, which covers updates and support. 

Open source options such as Drupal are free to use without any licensing or vendor lock-in. Drupal site owners generally contract for ongoing support to cover security and other essential updates, but not only can they choose from among a wide range of support providers, they can also choose to have an in-house expert manage and maintain their site. 
 

4. Value-Added Support Relationships

Proprietary licensing contracts represent vendor lock-in -- for better or for worse. Open source equals options for support, which means competition for the best pricing, the best service, and the greatest value.
After we develop and launch a Drupal website for a client, they have essentially three options for ongoing maintenance, monitoring, and security updates: 

  • Contract with us for support,
  • Contract with another support provider, or
  • Manage support in house.

If a client is not happy with the caliber of Drupal support they are receiving from one company, they have the option to switch to another and that’s often the case. Drupal Support is a particular strength for Promet, as evidenced by the fact that we did not actually build the websites for the majority of the majority of our support clients.

What this means from a market perspective is that Drupal support providers have every incentive to bring their A Game every day to the support relationship. The incentive for stellar service in a locked-in vendor relationships, on the other hand, an entirely different dynamic.
 

And there's more!

These four reasons are just the beginning, but the case is clear. Government entities at every level have much to gain from the flexibility, future proofing, and innovation that is inherent to open source. 
The advantage of open source is a particular passion for us at Promet Source. Contact us today to start the conversation on what you are looking to achieve and how we can help. 
 

    Jul 21 2021
    Jul 21

    Current stats on the high percentage of Drupal websites that are still on version 7, with no apparent migration plan in sight, are sparking concern and curiosity throughout the Drupal sphere. What exactly is standing in the way of decisions to shed this outdated version and start reaping the benefits of better security and a far superior CMS? 

    The Drupal Association pandemic-inspired decision to move the Drupal 7 end-of-life date forward by one year to November 2022, may have derailed migration timelines from their previous top-of-mind status. We believe though, that the big reason for the migration delays, is a track record for complicated and cumbersome (and often, costly) migration processes. Drupal Community insiders are aware of this reputation, and have made great strides in reversing it with new modules, tools, systems, and accelerated project planning. The result is a new era for streamlined Drupal 7 to 9 migrations with minimal snags.

    Here at Promet Source, we’ve stepped up as a key player in this process. We've also taken a big picture overview of all the work that’s going on to fast-track Drupal migrations. In doing so, we’ve assembled a comprehensive guide to information, insights, expert opinions, modules, tools, systems and more. 

    Let’s start with our top picks for insights and expertise. 

    Expert Perspectives

    Upgrading to Drupal 9 Using the Migrate API 
    This 30-minute recording from a DrupalCon North America 2021 presentation provides straightforward and solid information concerning a Drupal 9 migration path, leveraging the Drupal Migrate API. The presenters also cover recommended tools to facilitate a Drupal 9 migration, pitfalls, and essential perspectives. This presentation is chock full of great information and I highly recommend it. 
     
    Tools to get your site ready for Drupal 9 & 10
    When you are ready to get into the actual weeds of a Drupal 9 migration, this presentation from DrupalCon North America 2021 can serve as an excellent resource with recommendations concerning the right tools, along with step-by-step explanations of when and how to put them to work. 
     
    How to Optimize a Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 Migration
    There’s much more to a Drupal migration than simply following the right steps. A Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 migration represents an excellent opportunity to rethink and press the reset button on your organization’s entire web experience. This recent perspective sets forth eight considerations for reaping the most benefit from a Drupal migration.
     
    What? So Drupal 8 Support Ends Before Drupal 7 Support?
    In June of 2020, during the same week as the long-anticipated arrival of Drupal 9, I wrote a blog concerning the essential steps involved in a Drupal 8 to 9 migration. There’s a slight irony, in the fact that Drupal Community support for Drupal 8 will stop cold on November 28, 2021, without the option of extended commercial support, but Drupal 7 support will remain intact through November 2022, with the option of extended commercial support. This disparity is due to the Drupal 8 Symfony dependency, which has an end-of-life date of November 2021.

    Drupal 9 Migration: Top Questions and Expert Insights 
    Recognizing that there are more than a few facets to Drupal migrations, Promet Source tapped the brainpower of some of our top devs and solutions architects for insights and observations concerning how to make the most of migration-related challenges and opportunities. Here’s what they had to say.

    Migrating From Drupal 7 to Drupal 9? Acquia has your back
    Acquia has developed a Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 Migrate Accelerate tool designed to fast track the migration process. This blog post from the Acquia site covers some of the capabilities of that tool along with links to other helpful Drupal migration resources. 

    Migration From Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9
    For the visual and audio learners among us, this online tutorial from Drupal expert Kantesh Hotchandani, an India-based Sr. PHP Drupal Developer, provides a step-by-step, on-screen tutorial of some of the key steps in involved in the Drupal 9 migration process. 
     

    How to Plan Your Drupal 7 Migration
    An overarching theme from all of the Drupal 9 migration literature is this: successful migrations are built upon thorough assessments of the existing site and thoughtful planning. This step-by-step E offers a helpful strategy for doing just that.

    As a service to the Drupal Community, we've set out to present a solid overview of Drupal migration resources. If we've missed anything, please add it to the comments section below! 

    Drupal Release Dates Gantt Chart

    Due to Symphony 3 and 4 dependencies, EOL dates for Symphony 3 and 4 will mean a forced EOL on Nov. 28, 2021 for Drupal 8 and a forced EOL in Q4 2023 for Drupal 9. Drupal 7 sites, on the other hand, will have the option of extended paid commercial support.

    Project Planners

    Drupal 8 to 9 Upgrade Planning Template

    Drupal 7 to 9 migrations are taking up most of the oxygen these days from conversations concerning Drupal 9 migrations. Fact is, Drupal 8 end-of-life is scheduled for four months from now -- with no option for extended commercial support. Even though, as many have pointed out, Drupal 8 to 9 is more accurately called an upgrade than a migration, Drupal 8 site owners face a critical imperative for upgrading ASAP to Drupal 9. This template can serve as a helpful tool in doing so. 
     

    Checklists

    Drupal Migration Planning Checklist

    Sometimes, a single oversight that could have been easily addressed at the start of a project can set a migration off course and spark undue setbacks. This Drupal migration planning checklist provides eight essential pointers that can set your migration up for success right from the start.
     

    Pre-Migration Intelligence Gathering

    The Upgrade Status module in its Drupal 7 version will check the list of projects your have installed and show their availability for Drupal 8/9
     https://www.drupal.org/project/upgrade_status

    The Drupal Module Upgrader is a command line script that scans the source of a Drupal 7 module, flags any code that requires updating to Drupal 8/9, points off to any relevant API change notices, and (where possible) will actually attempt to convert the Drupal 7 code automatically to the Drupal 8/9 version.
    https://www.drupal.org/project/drupalmoduleupgrader 
     

    Migrate Modules

    With the arrival of Drupal 8, Migrate module has moved into Drupal Core. However there are a number of contributed modules that are helpful for migrations and are used in most, if not all, projects here at Promet Source.

     

    Must-have Migration Modules

    Migrate Plus
    The Migrate Plus module provides a swiss army knife of useful extensions and plugins. Migrate Plus allows the grouping of migrations, which is often handy if there are multiple types of migrations in a project.

    Additionally, Migrate Plus provides two example modules which are especially useful for learning how migrations work first hand.

    See the full list of Process, Source, Destination and additional plugin types on the project page: https://www.drupal.org/project/migrate_plus
     

    Migrate Tools
    Migrate Tools is essential for most projects as it provides Drush commands and a user interface to run, roll back, and perfect migrations.

    https://www.drupal.org/project/migrate_tools 

    General Use Migration Modules

    Migration Tools
    Made by the awesome people at CivicActions, Migration Tools is a bevvy of useful plugins to help with the thorniest of migrations -- especially those from HTML sources. It is perhaps worth noting that the maintainer, dkucharm (https://www.drupal.org/user/3072643), is not only a great developer but also a fantastic musician!

    See: DrupalCon Seattle 2019 - Migrating terrible static content into Drupal 8 

    https://www.drupal.org/project/migration_tools

    Migrate Manifest
    While Migrate Plus provides the ability to group migrations, Migrate Manifest takes this to the next level by allowing developers to create a manifest file to run migrations. This can be very useful for large projects and complex migration workflows. https://www.drupal.org/project/migrate_manifest

    Migrate Upgrade
    Provides Drush support for Drupal 6 or 7 to 9 upgrades. https://www.drupal.org/project/migrate_upgrade 

    Migrate Scanner
    Provides a recursive directory scanner for migrations files, which helps to organize migrations into sub-directories.

    https://www.drupal.org/project/migrate_scanner

    Migrate Files
    This is useful when you need to migrate files in the same migration as other data. It is especially relevant when migrating from sources where relevant entity data is offered in a single row such as CSVs or some APIs.

    https://www.drupal.org/project/migrate_file 
     

    Source-specific Migration Modules

    Entity-specific Migration Modules

    Process and Source Plugins

    Migration Facilitators

    Import/Export Modules

    At Promet Source we tend to approach every engagement with a deep dive into the details and a determination to understand big-picture perspectives, as well as all of the minutiae that also matters a lot.

    Looking for insight or consultative support on any aspect of a Drupal migration? Let us know how we can help

    About Drupal Sun

    Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

    • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
    • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
    • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
    • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

    See the blog post at Evolving Web

    Evolving Web