I can give you a lot of reasons to upgrade Liferay. I’ve seen some large companies spend LOTS of money building out something incredible on the Liferay platform, then take a “lights on” approach almost as soon as the product launches. With the “lights on” approach, they’ll basically have one or two system administrators who reboot the system whenever there’s an issue. When you eventually fall behind far enough, your Liferay upgrade could become unnecessarily expensive and a larger undertaking which makes it harder to get project approval.
This paints a grim picture of an approach whose goal, I think, aims to cut costs. I haven’t done a detailed analysis to determine if you actually can save money this way. What I can tell you is vastly outdated software is a hallmark of companies circling the drain. As you read through this article you should come to realize that regular Liferay upgrades save you money while creating more opportunities.
Take advantage of Liferay product innovations
One of the easiest ways you can get the business on board for upgrading Liferay is to show them what they can take advantage of. Depending on your business owners, they may be completely unaware of new features in Liferay and how they can benefit from using them. This is an area where the LIferay team members should map out which features have changed and how the business can benefit from using them. You will often find some major and even, minor changes to existing Liferay features they use regularly that can save a ton of time. In mature Liferay systems, this is especially important because you’re always on the lookout for freeing up time to focus on more/other things.
Staying up to date with the technology stack
The bottom line here is technology moves fast; real fast. And, you better keep up if you don’t want to find yourself in a world of hurt. Most enterprise systems today are the culmination of hundreds or even thousands of smaller components. When you upgrade Liferay on a regular basis, these components often get an update, too! Sometimes the Liferay team will swap out the old component and plug in a new one, or they may just bump up the version to clean up some of their technical debt.
When you’re doing some incremental Liferay upgrades to stay on the latest fixpacks, it’s pretty easy to deal with these changes. In some cases, there may be development work to swap out or upgrade library versions but it’s generally not going to require extensive effort. The larger costs of upgrading Liferay come in when you wait too long. The longer you wait, the more things pile up. Upgrading Liferay on a regular basis is analogous to mowing your grass weekly versus letting nature reclaim your yard.
Putting off Liferay upgrades increases costs
Liferay upgrades take some time and effort even when the upgrade is just an incremental fixpack being applied to the system. Generally speaking, the longer it’s been since you’ve upgraded Liferay, the more effort it will take to get the job done. In some cases, when you go a long time between Liferay upgrades, your only choice for an upgrade may feel like you need to boil the ocean. This is definitely more expensive than the incremental Liferay upgrade path I am advocating.
One side-effect of a Liferay system that’s been neglected for a longer period of time is that you might have a more difficult time getting support for a Liferay upgrade from the business. When the costs get high enough, allocating funds could mean other areas of the business may need to tighten their purse strings beyond their comfort level.
Reduce your technical debt
Software systems, in general, tend to build cruft over time. “Quick fixes” and other deficiencies in quality can make it harder than it should be to modify and extend the system further. You can think of this cruft similar to financial debt. In many cases, we end up working around things because the core system did not do something we wanted and we needed a solution yesterday. Right, wrong, or otherwise, it happens in all systems.
Upgrading Liferay gives you a chance to address some of your technical debt as well. Oftentimes the newer version will have a more elegant solution or outright address the deficiency you were working around. As a developer combing the codebase to make sure the upgraded system will work as expected, you get a fresh perspective on some things that need to be addressed or could be done differently as a result of the upgrade.
Maximize your investment
You’re already paying for the software. In many respects, you’re throwing money away if you’re not staying up to date with the latest or nearly the latest version of Liferay. Most software licenses deals include a period of time where you have access to updates as they come out. Liferay licensing is no different in this regard. As the software is continuing to evolve with performance improvements, bug fixes, and new features, you should reap the benefits by taking advantage of these changes as early as possible.
The best practices around keeping your systems and information safe include regular patching to the software. The longer the software has been available, the better the chances are someone has found a way to abuse it. While you let your system age without critical security patches and upgrades, you’re taking a major risk. This is ultimately what happened to Equifax. Someone noticed their system had a known vulnerability and exploited it to gain access to a large percentage of Americans’ identities. Don’t let this happen to you!
Results of Not Upgrading Liferay
It’s not just the hard dollar costs that take a toll on your organization. As a software developer, there aren’t many people out there who are willing to work on aging systems. Our industry is and always has been about leading innovation. Falling too far behind the leading edge means your skill sets aren’t marketable. From the business side, not only are you losing your competitive edge, but consider all the extra time you’re in the weeds playing catchup and trying to shoehorn ugly solutions to your outdated system! How long can you keep that up?
The intangibles of not upgrading Liferay can be stunning, but they’re different in every organization. In our experience, companies who wait too long to upgrade Liferay will often find themselves facing a major uphill battle. Attracting top talent is difficult. Some companies might put off a Liferay upgrade for so long that they can’t even buy support. If you’re resourceful enough to work out a deal to continue support beyond the regular end of life, the subscription and support costs will be substantial!
Additional Costs for Liferay Subscription and Support
I like to look at this from the software vendor’s perspective to make it make sense. The fees for vastly outdated software can seem absurd. Your software vendor wants you to upgrade largely because their products are continually evolving. It doesn’t make sense for them to support older versions of their software after a certain point. They’ll start weaning you off with a “limited support agreement” with a timeline for when that will end. Some vendors may be willing to work with you, but it could end up costing you beaucoup bucks.
On the vendor side, they’ll also end up spending more while making less. There will be other costs they have to incur in order to effectively support those older versions. Everything from the coding languages and operating systems to the hardware that runs them cost money. Something that worked on Windows 8 may have stopped working in Windows 10, but they’re still supporting it anyway. The bottom line here is you’re going to get stuck paying for any additional costs the software vendor takes on as a result of supporting you.
Mission Critical Features Running on Unsupported Versions
Ew, that’s just all kinds of nasty. I should have called this section “early retirement” or “losing your job in a hurry.” Jokes aside, this might be how you roll in a startup where everything is fluid. Nobody wants to be “that guy” who made/influenced the decision to not upgrade Liferay or pay for support when the system fails and you can’t recover it easily (if at all).
Significant Efforts to Eventually Right the Ship
At some point, you’re going to need to upgrade Liferay. This is an interesting area because it can go in so many different directions. If you waited long enough to pull the trigger on your Liferay upgrade, I’m imagining your system is full of noise/technical debt. People who were significant players in the current system have moved on and nobody knows what some things are, what they do, why they’re there, etc. In these cases, you should be asking yourself if you’re going to make this investment, is it something you can DIY or should you call on XTIVIA to do it right? Or, maybe you just need to clean up the noise in the system and purge the stuff you’re no longer using.
Look at your software infrastructure like your house. There are some things you can DIY and other things you can’t. In a lot of cases, it makes sense to talk with someone to figure out which route you go. Maybe there’s a hybrid approach that makes sense!
Putting off Liferay upgrades can have a negative impact on your business. You can expect to see many tangible and intangible side effects that impact your ability to effectively leverage the platform for all its potential. In some scenarios where Liferay upgrades have been put off for too long, you may find yourself undergoing a major effort to upgrade your infrastructure up to the latest version of Liferay while incurring some significant costs to do so.
Upgrades are complex and with XTIVIA’s experience of upgrading customers from Liferay 5.x to 6.x to 7.x, and sometimes even directly from 5.x to 7.x (by the way, don’t do this unless you are stuck in the dark ages and have no choice), XTIVIA can give you true consulting and guidance on how to approach upgrade projects. We can show you how best to leverage new functionality and your project investment.
If you have questions about your Liferay upgrade or getting the most from your Liferay DXP implementation, please engage with us via comments on this blog post, or reach out to us at https://www.xtivia.com/contact/. XTIVIA has extensive experience with Liferay upgrades, migrations, and digital transformations with enterprises of all sizes in many industry verticals.
You can also continue to explore Liferay DXP by checking out the Top 5 Reasons to Choose Liferay DXP, Should I upgrade to Liferay DXP v7.2, or Liferay DXP 7 Page Fragments, and Liferay DXP 7 Audience Targeting for information on topics discussed in this article.