Drupal 8 implementation and website migration

30 October 2020 | Dr Reno Morar, COO

Dear colleagues and students

I am writing to inform you of progress made with regards to the Drupal 8 Development and Website Migration Project and to highlight project actions that may impact you.

Project background

Most of UCT’s websites are hosted in the official web content management system, Drupal 7, as per UCT web policy. The system is nearing its end of life; from November 2021, security upgrades will no longer be available for Drupal 7. This will render it vulnerable to attack and, by extension, expose all websites on UCT’s Drupal platform to a high level of risk. There are also ongoing performance and stability issues with Drupal 7. Therefore, every effort is being made to decommission Drupal 7 as soon as possible.

The Drupal 8 Project aims to:

  • upgrade UCT’s official web content management system to the newer Drupal 8 version (Phase 1)
  • migrate all websites in the existing Drupal 7 system into Drupal 8 (Phase 2)

Project Roll-out

As noted above, the project will roll out in two phases. Phase 1 covers the development and implementation of Drupal 8 and Phase 2 will migrate the sites currently in Drupal 7 into the new Drupal 8 system. Phase 1 is underway, while Phase 2 is scheduled to start next year.

Moratorium on new sites and site completion deadline

The project was granted a budget to migrate 350 websites. Currently, there are 340 live websites, with 50 in various stages of development. The financial impact of COVID-19 means that the project will likely not be able to secure additional funding. The Project Implementation Committee must therefore implement a moratorium on the creation of new websites as well as a deadline for the completion of development sites. The moratorium will come into effect on Friday, 6 November. Websites under development will have to be completed by Friday, 4 December 2020.

What are the alternative options for new sites?

  1. Website owners requiring new sites could wait for Drupal 8 to become available. This is estimated to be in September 2021. The new system will come with improved functionality and usability and a fresh look and feel.
  2. Website owners could add content to an existing parent site, if one is available. For example: content could be added to a faculty or department parent site. We would recommend that this option is explored as a number of websites could easily be incorporated as pages on a parent site.
    NOTE: Updates and maintenance of existing sites can continue. Further communication regarding Phase 2 content migrations will follow in 2021.
  3. Website owners will be able to request an exception to the moratorium or an extension to the deadline for sites under construction. The Project Implementation Committee will consider these requests, but please be mindful that granting exceptions will impact the budget and project timeline.

Questions and comments

The success of the project rests on the support of the wider university community. If you have any questions or comments please send these to the Project Manager (Leon Alexander) or Project Technical Lead (Rethea Deetlefs).


Dr Reno Morar
Chief Operating Officer
Chair of the COVID-19 Co-ordinating Committee

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