PHP 7.4 Security End-Of-Life and other important PHP announcements

We’ve got some great updates to share since our last post about PHP Upgrades for the Pagely platform. We’ll share some information about how the recent upgrade from 7.4 to 8.0 went for sites using the “Stable” version preference in Atomic, as well as what we have planned for the November 28, 2022 full EOL of PHP 7.4.

Stable: Moved from 7.4 to 8.0, planning to move to 8.1 in 2023.

We transitioned our “Stable” PHP from 7.4 to 8.0 in August of 2022. Before doing so, we tested each site for compatibility. We version locked any apps that failed our checks so they’d remain on 7.4 for the time being. A few sites experienced more subtle failures when we rolled out the upgrade to 8.0 and it was trivial to switch those back to 7.4 while each site owner worked with our team to update their codebases. As of this writing, less than 6% of sites hosted on Pagely needed to be locked to 7.4 and each of the ones that are locked have a plan in place for remediation. Making this transition happen early granted our customers a healthy amount of time to sort any issues out while 7.4 is still receiving security updates.

We will be upgrading “Stable” to PHP 8.1 in Q1 of 2023. The precise date of that is to be determined. The timing of that change will depend on getting all sites using “Stable” onto at least the 6.0.x branch of WordPress Core. All of our customers using “Latest” are already at that minimum WordPress version and we’re working on bringing the last few remaining apps up to par before we’d consider changing the PHP version for “Stable”.

Sunset: Moving on from PHP 7.4

Pagely makes different selections available for PHP (“Latest”, “Stable”, and “Sunset”) that map to specific PHP versions throughout each version’s lifecycle. We change these over time in accordance with the PHP: Supported Versions Schedule, and while there are times where there is overlap of running the same version for “Stable” and “Sunset”, we try to follow the schedule published by PHP to make your version choices straightforward.

Sunset is due for an upgrade on November 28, 2022 because security support ends for PHP 7.4 on that date. Currently, the Pagely team is conducting compatibility testing like we have done previously and will be reaching out to customers before November 28, 2022 to coordinate any sites needing to be version locked. After that is done, we will be updating “Sunset” to run on PHP 8.0, which will continue to receive security updates for one more year after its active support ends on November 26, 2022.

While we do make exceptions in some rare cases to hold an app back on a PHP version after that version has reached end-of-life, we still work with each customer to establish a timeline for remediation; it is very important to get off of old versions that no longer receive security updates, not to mention the performance wins and new features you can take advantage of by being on the latest.

Latest: Staying on 8.1 for now

In our last post, we alluded to the possibility of introducing support for PHP 8.2, which is due to be released on November 24, 2022. Since the release is not officially out yet, and WordPress Core will have to catch up with the changes to become compatible, we are not planning to introduce it as a “Beta” selection right away. Given that the team’s focus will be on helping our customers upgrade from PHP 7.4 to 8.0, and that WordPress Core is still preparing for 8.2, there’s just not a good reason to add support for it at this time. We can add it quickly once it makes sense.

Legacy Shared Customers

Pagely has been providing enterprise-grade managed WordPress VPS hosting based on Amazon Web Services for about nine of the 14 years we have been in business. In that time, we have helped countless brands and companies scale and adapt to the ever-changing world of software and the cloud. Our Performance and Scale plans provide single-tenant hosting environments that deliver computing capabilities and a degree of flexibility that most other platforms, whether they’re based on multi-tenant or single-tenant architectures, can’t easily match.

Up until about 2017, we were also offering shared hosting plans. We still support customers on our shared hosting platform and have kept that environment updated with the latest WordPress, operating systems, AWS EC2 instance types, and, of course, PHP versions. This time is no different; we’ll be updating our shared hosting clusters to PHP 8.0 once 7.4 hits full end-of-life. We will be testing each site for compatibility and reaching out to customers ahead of time if we determine they will have issues. Although the PHP version selector in Atomic is not yet available for sites on our shared hosting platform, we will be able to lock an app’s PHP version to 7.4 if it’s necessary for a short time.

Bonus Round: What’s cookin’ at Pagely for WP 6.1?

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, I wanted to provide a glimpse into some of the cool things Pagely is working on with regards to WordPress 6.1, due to be released later today (November 1 2022). In partnership with Object Cache Pro’s (OCP) own Till Krüss, Pagely now supports the use of Relay with OCP. Relay is a drop-in replacement to PHPRedis, with a key differentiator being that it has a cache that is built directly into the PHP runtime environment. Early bench-marking shows that it outperforms a remote Redis server and reduces bandwidth, but what was more exciting to learn was that it even beats a locally installed Redis instance!

Why is this relevant for WordPress 6.1? If you haven’t yet read the Performance Field Guide for WordPress 6.1, you totally should. There are some changes coming that will make more extensive use of caching to make things like WP_Query and the REST API perform better.

If your WordPress application does not use an object cache, you won’t benefit as much from those changes. If you do use an Object Cache, you will see some great performance wins by upgrading to WordPress 6.1. Taking that a step further (after all, our motto is “Expect Extraordinary”), utilizing the Relay extension with OCP will net you the biggest performance gains. Pagely always wants to be at the forefront of performance when it comes to WordPress. We were the first to establish a partnership with Object Cache Pro and we were there to help provide feedback during the development of Relay, and we’re obviously going to be an early adopter of Relay.

Starting today, you can request your site to use both OCP and Relay on Pagely, for absolutely no additional cost to you. Just reach out to our support team for enablement.

We’ll have a more extensive article in the coming weeks that digs into the benefits of this new development, but we wanted to get this good news out to you today.

New Posts in your inbox