10 Bulletproof Arguments to Justify a PHP 8 Upgrade

Paweł Spychalski - Laravel Full Stack Developer
5 minutes read

We recently wrote the ultimate guide on upgrading to PHP 8 which anyone can grab for free. But why did we write it? It seems a no-brainer that being on the latest version of PHP helps applications stay secure, maintainable and speedy. However, stakeholders, owners of PHP applications, CTOs and non-technical decision-makers need to be convinced before making changes to things that impact their business. So we’ve put together the best convincing arguments for those who can’t yet see the value of migration.

Why Do I Need To Update PHP?

#1 Improved Performance Benchmarks

“Performance” boils down to how fast your site and content load for the end-user. Older versions of PHP are slower in virtually all meaningful ways. Even upgrading, for example, from version PHP 8.0 to 8.1 has shown substantial speed improvements in our tests. Along with page load performance, businesses who upgrade often also gain efficiencies by reducing the costs of memory, processing, and server resources in the long run.

#2 Strengthened Security & Stability

It’s no secret that the latest versions of PHP offer better security and stability. Open-source core developers have limited time and resources, so older versions quickly become completely unsupported by the community that rigorously identifies, tracks, and fixes things. These versions have reached a point called End of Life, and you can check if you’re currently on an Unsupported Branch. If you are using any of these versions, you are currently exposed to vulnerabilities that could lead to hacks or stolen data.

#3 Access to New Features

As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The latest major update to PHP 8—check out all of the new changes in 8.0 here—introduced a great number of changes, improvements and optimizations for PHP developer workflows. PHP 8 has made huge leaps in type safety (avoiding type errors when running code in production environment) and syntax additions (more intuitive and concise handling of the PHP language. To top it off, the famously discussed JIT compiler (only available in PHP 8) has the ability to improve performance of typical PHP web applications up to 3-5 times the previous benchmarks.

How Is My Business Affected?

#4 Avoiding Technical Debt

Also known as code debt or software architecture debt, technical debt accumulates in the form of extra work and expenses down the line associated with maintaining a code base. Older versions of PHP require more specialized work, and therefore more resources, to maintain over longer periods of time. The longer a migration to the latest version is put off, the more likely your business will drive up development costs in the long run.

#5 Improving Time-to-Market

Keeping up with the latest version is an investment not just in cost, but in time. When our PHP clients want to kick off a new project and implement a cool feature on their website—which happens to be running on PHP 8.1—we know that it will be a straightforward, easy process that can take a few days or weeks to go from concept to production launch. However, if the client is still on, say, version 7.2, we now have to conduct an audit, watch out for incompatibilities, perhaps refactor some code, and set a longer timeline for delivering the new features. The result: customers frustrated by the wait for new features.

#6 Increasing Scalability

PHP 8 is designed to support many large-scale enterprise applications, including web services and microservices, and applications that run on the cloud. Businesses on the latest versions will be able to easily take advantage of the scalable solutions, while sites and apps on older versions of PHP won’t. At the very least, it will take a highly skilled developer to cobble together a solution, and then continue to maintain it. Websites and apps built on PHP 8 are set up to scale horizontally with ease, provisioning additional servers to meet any spikes in demand.

How Are My Developers Affected?

#7 Easily Find Skilled Developers

If your PHP application is running an older version of PHP, it becomes harder to find capable developers who can maintain it, or worse, fix it when things go wrong. Many developers will be tuned into the latest versions. Even if you do manage to onboard a specialist who deals with legacy PHP code, they will be supported by virtually no one in the PHP community.

#8 Don’t Let the Bugs In

Businesses don’t often consider that technical debt is also built into the people who actually create the website. One piece of code may be written by a developer who is long-gone from the project, and a new developer has to work around that code—or worse, “not touch it”—because any new additions may break the house of cards. As time goes on, a legacy app becomes a Frankenstein of fixes and patches, crawling with dependencies and ‘hacks’ that lead to even more bugs down the line.

#9 Happy Dev. Happy Life.

Staying on old legacy systems is the fastest way to make a developer unsatisfied with their contributions and outlook on career. Maintaining a very old PHP version is equivalent to a job description of a sailor bailing out water from a sinking ship. There is no glory or satisfaction in working with outdated software or apps, and there certainly is less enjoyment from building outdated software.

#10 There’s a Foolproof Guide

We wrote the Ultimate Guide on Upgrading to PHP 8. It covers everything developers or PHP app owners need to know, down to the history of PHP, reasons to upgrade, and how to decide which version is right for you. And it’s completely free.

Need help upgrading to PHP? We’ve got you covered there as well.

Reach out to contact@polcode.com to let us handle your migration without headaches.

On-demand webinar: Moving Forward From Legacy Systems

We’ll walk you through how to think about an upgrade, refactor, or migration project to your codebase. By the end of this webinar, you’ll have a step-by-step plan to move away from the legacy system.

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