DRUPAL WEBSITE PLATFORM BUYER S GUIDE

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1 THE DRUPAL WEBSITE PLATFORM BUYER S GUIDE 5 Steps to Selecting the Best Technology to Build, Launch, and Manage Your Drupal Site 1 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

2 EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU MAKE A PURCHASE If you ve chosen Drupal as your content management system, you re likely developing a robust, secure, feature-rich website. But the sophistication and detail that Drupal enables can only work well when the infrastructure behind it is reliable and secure. Choosing a platform to manage your Drupal site is crucial to the project s success. A website platform should allow you to manage your website efficiently, effectively, and within budget. This guide was written to help you decide which platform will best support your Drupal project and provide the greatest longterm value to your business. INSIDE, YOU LL FIND KEY CONSIDERATIONS WHEN IT COMES TO: The types of technology available Scalability and flexibility Resource requirements and total cost of ownership Performance and uptime Collaboration and workflow Security and compliance In this buyer s guide, compare your options for managing your Drupal website. 01 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

3 1. EXPLORE THE PLATFORM OPTIONS FOR YOUR DRUPAL WEBSITE Where should I host my site? is no longer the right question to be asking. Today, choosing infrastructure means considering several things: tools for development and performance, hosting, security, and support. Each is a must for managing a website, but not all platform options will include them. Ask a better question: What platform can provide me with what I need at the best long-term value?. Do an audit of your overall requirements for your website. Ask all of your stakeholders early on about their expectations, and compare how each technology stacks up. DIY Hosting: Basic, inexpensive hosting that offers infrastructure only. You are responsible for setup, config, testing, server maintenance, security, and support. Managed Hosting: Includes some administrative tasks and support at high additional cost. Ultimately leaves you responsible for security and performance. Website Management Platform: Setup, developer tools, maintenance, security, and support all included. You are only responsible for Drupal development. AS YOU PREPARE TO CHOOSE A PLATFORM, ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS: What are my infrastructure needs, and how do I expect them to grow over time? What resources can my company dedicate to this project in terms of people, money, and time? How important are performance and uptime for my overall business goals? How much flexibility will I need to update the site and add new team members? Who will be responsible for keeping the website secure and compliant? 02 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

4 2. ALIGN YOUR WEBSITE WITH YOUR COMPANY S PRESENT AND FUTURE GOALS Whether you already have a fantastic Drupal site or are just starting the development process, you ll need a platform that can scale past your current requirements to accommodate future growth. This might mean adding new features, building new sites, bringing on new vendors and partners, and increasing the size of your online audience. IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, DO YOU ANTICIPATE... Adding new products, services, or brands to your portfolio? Branching out into new international markets? Needing new functionality for your existing sites? Increasing your marketing or IT budget? Integrating new tools for automation and analytics? Seeing an increase in online traffic? Change is part of doing business and shouldn t be hindered by old technology. Let your site grow with you on a platform that can scale to support bigger goals. Bringing on new developers, vendors, or partners? 03 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

5 Choose a Platform That Lets Your Website Presence Grow with You Purchasing the minimum requirement for today leaves you vulnerable as soon as your site needs to evolve. But paying too much for the safety of extra server space isn t practical either. As you map your web presence to your company s trajectory, choose a site platform that s flexible and scalable enough to grow with you and doesn t require hours of sysadmin work or overage fees for increased traffic. Avoid sinking funds into technology that won t support your long-term goals by partnering with a provider that will relieve you of infrastructure management. Empower Cross-Functional Collaboration to Improve the Site You know that it takes a team of talent to put together a winning site: developers, designers, vendors, marketers, and project managers. A platform with a collaborative workflow makes it easy for all these team members to make a contribution and for you to check in on each team member s progress. IF YOU RE PLANNING ON LAUNCHING PROJECTS WITH SEVERAL STAKEHOLDERS, LOOK FOR TECHNOLOGY THAT LETS YOU: Manage a team of vendors, in-house developers, and partners on a single platform Allow users varied levels of access without making things complicated See detailed logs of changes each developer is making in production Facilitate team collaboration without any member getting in another s way Easily loop in non-technical team members on project updates 04 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

6 3. USE YOUR RESOURCES WISELY Once you have designers, developers, and marketers ready to pull together an impressive Drupal site, you ll need to empower them to do their best work. The next step is to think about managing workflow, infrastructure, and support. Take stock of who you have in-house, which vendors you plan to work with, and how your developers time will be best spent. Compare the cost of outsourcing various tasks and map out who will take ownership of server administration, security, and response to distractions like support tickets and site emergencies. PEOPLE: Who will be responsible for maintenance, security, and support? TIME: How will you divide time spent on development vs sysadmin tasks? MONEY: What investments are you ready to make in your website technology? Free Developers from Sysadmin Tasks Drupal developers do their greatest work when they can focus on what they do best. Your website platform should handle all infrastructure-related tasks so your team never gets bogged down doing sysadmin work. When developers get pulled from their crucial projects, production delays can eat away at your ROI. Back Up Your Online Presence with a Solid Support Plan A website platform vendor should provide support so operations don t screech to a halt when there s a problem with your site. Otherwise the money you saved by choosing a cheaper provider will be spent as soon as there s a problem. Consider who on your team would be the on-call point of escalation for site issues and decide whether they are a realistic contingency plan should the site go down during peak hours. 05 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

7 Evaluate the Total Cost of Ownership Choosing a Drupal platform is about much more than initial cost of deployment. Make sure you include costs incurred throughout the lifecycle of your website and decide if you or your vendors will handle the tasks. Examples of these costs are setup and configuration, testing and tuning, security services, and ongoing maintenance and support. Each of these takes up hours of developer time each month and can cut into initial savings from going with a cheaper option. Finding the Best Long-Term Value Website Management Platform Best LT Value Managed Hosting DIY Hosting Months Usually, money saved on cheap monthly hosting is quickly offset by the cost of system administration, managing deployment details, and responding to performance problems. 06 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

8 4. RUN A FAST, RELIABLE WEBSITE Your web presence is often a prospective customer s first and most important impression of your company. Consider how performance and uptime affects your company: do you count on your site to get leads for new business? If response time is slow or the site doesn t load, what happens to conversion rates? How will this affect your revenue? Your website platform should guarantee at least 99.9% uptime at a reasonable cost. This happens two ways: one, when the infrastructure can scale to handle traffic surges that otherwise might crash the site; two, when developers have an environment where they can conduct reliable testing before changes go live. While managed hosting can ensure uptime at a hefty price, a website management platform is the only option that covers both needs. A major PR hit, your video going viral, a total redesign of your site all of these events are less stressful when your platform can scale. SCALABLE TECHNOLOGY: VMS vs CONTAINERS The infrastructure of most website platform options was built on virtual machines (VMs). But a newer technology uses containers to do what VMs can do, plus scale. Containers are an order of magnitude faster, lighter, and more reliable and they power the most scalable, reliable professional platforms in the market. 07 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

9 Smoothly Scale for a Website That Never Fails On a scalable platform, your website s performance never gets in the way of its purpose. Site visitors find what they need and walk away with a positive impression of the brand. Prospective customers convert to leads as they explore your content. If you are doing design and UX right but overlooking site performance, it s like building an aesthetically appealing house on a crumbling foundation. Instead, choose a platform with infrastructure that ensures high availability and uptime, so your hard work and vision pay off. Look for Tools and Workflow That Support Streamlined Development It takes best practices and the right tools to adeptly and effectively manage a Drupal site. The platform you re developing on should have tools and workflow built in, so it s easy to make updates and improvements to the site. With them developers can test, fix bugs, and launch on time all on identical dev, test, and live environments. The Development Workflow: Murky Waters or Clear Delineation? Basic hosting doesn't have built-in workflows that ensure code is safe to go live. A website management platform includes a streamlined workflow. DEV TEST LIVE Code and design with developer tools QA and review in an environment identical to the live site Deploy on time without surprises 08 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

10 5. ASSESS YOUR NEEDS FOR SECURITY AND COMPLIANCE Standards are high for web security for any company, and some industries commerce, finance, technology, healthcare have strict rules in place to safeguard sensitive data. You need to have the resources to ensure site security and compliance, plus a strong contingency plan in place to deal with unexpected threats. The core Drupal developer community is a big asset they re the first line of defense that keeps the software updated and secure. But at the infrastructure level, you should trust your platform to expertly handle security matters. Do you have someone who can: Manage server software, including security updates? Be the on-call escalation point for the server software? Manage automated backups and offsite data storage? Ensure partners and vendors don t compromise the system? Monitor compliance with industry standards? If you don t have someone in-house who is trained to ensure the level of security your business needs, it s best to pick a platform backed by support for all security issues. Protect Your Company from an Increasingly Hostile Internet When a security announcement reveals that Drupal or a common piece of website infrastructure has been compromised, attackers seize the opportunity to launch immediate, widespread exploit attempts. This leaves a small window for website administrators to apply updates and protect their systems from hack attempts. And when a website is managed by a few different people in different environments, or a single, overburdened developer, it s easy for essential security tasks to fall through the cracks. Traditional hosting places the security burden on you. If you re dedicated to maintaining a secure site, choose a vendor that will be there to help when a vulnerability arises. Look for support built into the pricing plan and a history of swift reactions to past security events. 09 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

11 MAKE THE BEST CHOICE FOR YOUR DRUPAL SITE When you choose a website platform, you re actually laying the foundation for years of technology decisions at your company. Ultimately, you ll need to balance cost with long-term value and adopt a platform that can support the same goal that were inspired by the source community in the first place an innovative, evolving, vibrant web presence. If you can achieve that, you and your entire team will be able to do the best work possible. READY FOR THE NEXT STEP? Before you start spending, talk to one of our website management experts. In the meantime, developers can spin up a Drupal site on Pantheon for free. 10 The Drupal Website Platform Buyer s Guide

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