When I started on the migration, in my head I was expecting that I would have to create a custom script that would perform the migration, and that there'd be no help within Drupal. To my shock and delight, in the core of Drupal 8 was a set of migration modules (Migrate, Migrate Drupal, and Migrate Drupal UI), which allowed for such a task! In addition to a UI that allowed me to configure the old database to grab content and perform the initial migration, I was able to use a few other slick modules, such as Migrate Plus and Migrate Tools that allowed me to run commands using Drush, and limit those commands to updates and changes. So, I was able to get a production copy of all the content and users into my development environment, as well as have a way to incrementally update content without having to perform the migration in it's entirety. With this hurdle out of the way, it was time to start learning about Drupal 8.
Some of my major goals when moving to Drupal 8 were to create a custom module that contained all the functionality I needed, without having to write a custom theme or blocks. I wanted the site to be more efficient and capable of using more cloud features that would lower my costs, but provide a faster and more reliable experience. I wanted to be able to have more options with themes, and be able to use tools to help me create custom pages so that I could offer a better user experience. Luckily, Drupal has come a long way from when I started to use it, with several modules merged into it's core (like views), a new way of configuring it with composer, and an entirely new way of building modules. I was under the impression that many of the custom modules I used would not exist any more, and was equally excited to be able to use the latest versions of certain modules, like recaptcha, so that I could reduce the likelihood of spambots that were ever present in the older version.
In terms of hosting the site, I am continuing to host the site using the AWS cloud platform. Some great enhancements for the site's ability to scale were to upgrade the EC2 instances to the new T3 platform, continue to use the Memcached servers, use the Elastic File system to store shared files such as the compressed outputs of the advanced aggregator module, and Cloudfront to store images, JS and CSS files. All of these changes have increased the performance, scale better, while slightly reducing my costs.
Ultimately, I spent about 8 weekends working on this upgrade, with nothing to do but shelter in place, I was able to spend almost all of my weekend days focusing on the upgrade, which was nice to keep my mind busy and off of the pandemic. In addition to the personal growth, I am happy to provide the people using the site a better experience. One thing that motivated me was the amount of growth the site experienced as the pandemic began to take shape and lockdowns began. People from around the world found the site, and, while being locked down took time to write down their musical thoughts. I saw a huge increase in usage from Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the United States. I was happy that people found value in my site, and that it helped them deal with the pandemic.