Advice for GovCMS Drupal 7 SaaS or PaaS customer


If you are a GovCMS Software as a Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) Drupal 7 (D7) customer, you need to plan your transition to the GovCMS Drupal (D9) distribution.

This document is the first in a series that explain what you need to do, by when and what resources are available to help you. It contains the following sections:

  • Timeline for Drupal 9 and the GovCMS D9
  • What are the migration options?
  • How big is the change?
  • Recommended actions
  • GovCMS support

Timeline for Drupal 9 and the GovCMS D9

Drupal 9.0 was released in June 2020. Initially, the Drupal Association announced that both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 would be end of life in November 2021. However, on 24 June 2020, the association announced that support for Drupal 7 will be extended to November 2022.


GovCMS Drupal 9 high-level timeline

0620_D7 timeline
The GovCMS team is preparing to release the first iteration of the GovCMS Drupal 9 (D9) distribution for GovCMS SaaS customers in December 2020. Pending release schedules, GovCMS customers will be able to move across to the new platform from January 2021, although you’ll be able to start building sites before January. You’ll also need to conduct testing.

SaaS websites

All GovCMS SaaS customers should plan on being on the GovCMS D9 distribution platform by the end of November 2021.

D7 websites

Even though Drupal 7 will be supported until November 2022, to reduce maintenance overheads and minimise operating costs for the platform, site owners should plan to migrate their sites by November 2021.

Site owners need to seek funding through their internal budgeting process to complete their migration projects.

GovCMS will continue to deploy Drupal 7 security-related updates until November 2022.

GovCMS will not be accepting any new Drupal 7 websites on the GovCMS platform from July 2020.

D8 websites

GovCMS 8 sites need to be upgraded before November 2021. Finance will apply the D9 upgrade to any sites not upgraded before support for Drupal 8 ends. We recommend you plan on completing your upgrade by June 2021 if possible.

PaaS websites

If you are a GovCMS PaaS customer, you can use Drupal 9 right now.

If you are PaaS customer who wants to use the GovCMS D9 distribution you will need to wait until we release it.

If your PaaS site uses the GovCMS D7 distribution, security updates will be made available until November 2022. If you use the D8 distribution, security updates will stop in November 2021.

PaaS customers are responsible for migrated or upgrading their own sites.

What are the migration options?

GovCMS D7 SaaS and PaaS customers can choose to:

  • migrate from GovCMS D7 to GovCMS D8 and then to GovCMS D9 or
  • migrate from GovCMS D7 straight to GovCMS D9.

The migration from GovCMS D7 is significant, irrespective of whether it is to GovCMS D8 or GovCMS D9.  

Upgrading from GovCMS D8 to GovCMS D9 will require much less effort.

Which option your organisation chooses will depend on when you are more likely to have the time and budget available. If you have those available now, our recommendation is to transition from GovCMS D7 to GovCMS D8 now and then transition to GovCMS D9.

How big is the change?

The size of the change depends on the size of your websites and whether you are moving from GovCMS D7 or GovCMS D8.

Moving from GovCMS D7 to GovCMS D8 or D9

Migrating from GovCMS 7 to GovCMS 8 is significant and will be just as significant for GovCMS D9 because it involves:

  • rebuilding the website, i.e. it cannot be upgraded
  • recreating the theme because the theme language is different
  • replacing existing core modules with those available in GovCMS D8
  • shifting to a new database structure
  • testing for and remediating code depreciation, which is likely to be significant
  • upgrading the configuration
  • updating your Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) and your security assessment.

Customers with D7 sites need to fund and manage their own migration project.

Moving from GovCMS D8 to GovCMS D9

Changing from GovCMS D8 to GovCMS D9 is expected to be less significant. It will most likely involve:

  • upgrading the existing website, i.e. the website does not need to be rebuilt
  • migrating the theme, although highly customised themes may need to be recreated
  • testing for and remediating code depreciation, although depending on the complexity of the website this is not likely to be significant
  • updating your Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) and your security assessment.

Customers with D8 sites, or sites that have been migrated from D7 to D8 will still incur some costs, and will need to ensure resources are available to adequately test sites before the Drupal 9 upgrade is applied.

Recommended actions

July to December 2020

During July to December 2020, we recommend that you:

  • as a minimum, audit your current website(s) to:
    • identify and remove content that is no longer needed, which will reduce the content that needs to be migrated
    • identify websites that could be consolidated
    • plan to archive and decommission sites that are no longer required
  • consider, upgrading your website(s) to GovCMS D8 and test its functionality.

Both of the above will decrease the effort that is required later. It will also help you to determine whether you have the in-house skills to upgrade to GovCMS D9 or whether you will need help. If you decide to do the migration without using a service provider, an early transition to GovCMS D8 will give you more time to familiarise yourself with future functionality.

See: Need help with your website? (

January to June 2021

From January 2021, you can begin moving to GovCMS D9. We will issue more advice over the coming months.

GovCMS support

We are working with Salsa Digital to develop additional training materials, including online training. We are also examining other support options.

If you have already engaged a service provider, they can help you with a migration plan and the migration itself.

More information

Drupal resources:



This page was last updated on Thursday 9 July 2020