Image Zend Blog How to Upgrade PHP
February 21, 2020

PHP Upgrades: How to Plan and Execute Your Next Update

PHP Development

Even though new PHP releases include improved security provisions and an exciting mix of new features, many developers dread a PHP upgrade. And, with PHP versions only community supported for three years, teams need to perform PHP upgrades frequently - or face the reality of deploying unsupported versions.

In this blog, we look at some of the key challenges teams face during a PHP upgrade, including notes on the benefits of upgrading, planning PHP upgrades, and how to make the process as streamlined as possible.

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What Are the Key Challenges of a PHP Upgrade?

Typically, the biggest challenges people face with a PHP upgrade relate to justification and planning. It’s not unusual for PHP applications to have several million lines of code, and the scope of manually migrating applications to a new release can be ominous, especially when it comes to developers’ schedules. That’s because:

  • Developers and managers would rather devote available time and resources to developing new features and apps instead of migrating code to a new release.
  • Migrations don’t always translate into measurable ROI — even though they are necessary. It’s hard to get authorization for a task that delivers invisible benefits.
  • The time sink involved can be significant, especially when teams have little migration experience.
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Upgrading to the Latest Version of PHP

Most new releases double application performance. Looking back at a historic example, PHP 7.3 performance jumps 2X to 3X of applications running PHP 5. 

These performance gains can translate into faster response times for users and improved service levels. In addition, application performance gains can sometimes make significant hardware consolidation possible, which can result in thousands of dollars in monthly savings.

Given the fast lifecycle for PHP version releases, teams are tasked with upgrading / migrating to the latest version of PHP more frequently than ever before. For more information on the latest PHP versions, be sure to check out our resource collection Exploring PHP Versions: Performance, Security, and Feature Comparisons. It includes blogs, white papers, and webinars that discuss various PHP versions and the benefits they can bring to your organization.

Visit the PHP Version Hub >>

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What Are the Benefits of a PHP Upgrade?

A PHP upgrade will help:

  • Improve security, with newer capabilities
  • Ensure your applications are supported, either through the community or from Zend when you use ZendPHP Enterprise or Zend Server
  • Reduce the risk of breaches that can damage reputation and cost money
  • Save time and resources with new capabilities that help teams quickly deliver better web applications

Planning a PHP Upgrade

There are two things I always stress when it comes to planning a PHP upgrade:

  • Schedule extensive tests - Testing goes alongside migration success. Be sure to fully test your application using a variety of PHP testing techniques.
  • Migrate code in small sprints - Break your migration into small sprints for better results. Learn about sprint goals >>

Planning Your Next PHP Upgrade or Migration?

Planning Your Next PHP Upgrade White Paper

This white paper details the best practices teams need to consider when planning and executing PHP upgrades and migrations.

Download Free Copy

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Is Testing Really Needed?

Yes, you need to test your apps during a PHP upgrade — even if your resources are spread thin. Corporate web applications support customers. To ensure every single person has a seamless, reliable experience, you need to test.

Testing becomes more feasible if you do it as you make changes. Waiting to run all your tests until you are done with your code migration will make it much more difficult and time-consuming to pinpoint issues and their causes.

I recommend making one change, and then testing it. Repeat this cycle until the migration is complete. In one day, our developers typically make and test 10 to 14 small changes.

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How to Streamline Your PHP Upgrade

Many companies engage Zend PHP Migration Services for help with PHP upgrades. Why? Our PHP consultants

  • Are highly skilled in migrating applications of all sizes, including those with millions of lines of code
  • Work in short sprint cycles, making 10 to 14 small changes each day with quick feedback loops
  • Meet their time estimates so you get accurate time and cost estimates
  • Work with your cadences, processes, tools, and teams — instead of dictating how things should be done
  • Ensure that when your migration is done, user experience is the same or better, meaning there are no new bugs or loss of functionality
  • Help you consolidate infrastructure if desired, by maximizing the performance gains that come with newer PHP versions
  • Ensure backwards compatibility with earlier versions of PHP if desired


See Available Migration Services

Additional Resources

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