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Housingwire.com

Housingwire.com rebuilds confidence with Acquia Cloud

Leaves downtime and potential detrimental loss of revenue in the past

HousingWire was originally started in 2005 as a blog built on WordPress. In 2008 as readership grew, the blog developed into a company — HW Publishing — and is now the nations largest newswire service dedicated to the housing financial market.

In February 2012, HousingWire began serving over one million page views monthly and WordPress had become insufficient. The caching mechanism was database-heavy, and the web team was forced to re-start their servers 10-15 times a day to keep the site up. At this point, HousingWire’s Founder and CEO, Paul Jackson, knew it was time for a change.

The decision was made to re-platform on Drupal using the OpenPublish distribution, and change from a co-location hosting infrastructure to a third party Managed Hosting service. In February 2012, HousingWire launched their new site along with a variety of new advertising programs that had been pre-sold. “We flipped the switch, only to find that nothing worked,” Paul said.

“We couldn’t log in, sessions weren’t consistent; our editorial team would put a story in the system, and it wouldn’t appear on the site. In one browser you could see content, and in another you couldn’t.”

Paul’s team realized the root of the problem was within their hosting solution particularly in how the load was balanced for their Drupal site. Their existing provider didn’t have the Drupal-specific expertise to appropriately configure the stack. To make matters worse, even though they had purchased a fully managed service, they learned the support was not what they expected. “We were having major problems, and it was never escalated. Towards the end our provider told us it was our fault. I called them and said, ‘How can it be our fault when we subscribed to a managed service? We don’t have access to fix things.’ We were so frustrated that we cancelled our subscription and moved our entire new Drupal environment back to our old co-location server box. We kept it there for about three weeks while we searched for an alternative.”

How they did it

As a result of their experience, HousingWire realized they needed a Drupal-tuned hosting environment and that’s when they learned about Acquia Cloud. Paul said, “The most important thing is uptime. Eighty-percent of our revenue comes through the website. It can’t go down — ever.” In addition to the up-time requirements, HousingWire needs elastic resources that can handle traffic spikes. When their content gets syndicated in a major outlet such as www.AOL.com, they typically see an 800% increase in the amount of traffic hitting their site.

Paul and his team made the decision to move to Acquia Cloud because it guarantees site up time, and delivers the fully managed service they expect from their provider.

The results

Within three days of becoming an Acquia Cloud customer, www.housingwire.com was migrated and successfully hosted on Acquia’s Cloud infrastructure. Although uptime is most critical, HousingWire also benefits from a responsive support team and the streamlined development process they get with the service. Acquia Cloud isn’t just a hosting infrastructure, it’s a Platform-as-a-Service that comes with a Development Workflow user interface.

Acquia Cloud comes with separate Development, Staging and Production environments and HousingWire’s developers have been able to embrace Agile and SCRUM development methodologies. Paul said, “We’re now finally able to follow continuous integration best practices. We make small incremental changes, test, and then go through our test scripts before pushing to production.” He continued, “We no longer have to do that live in front of a customer, which is what we had to do for the last year.”

From a business perspective, Paul said, “If there ever was a situation where a company’s entire business was on the line, this was it. That new website needed to be up and functional, or we would have forfeited 80 perecent of the company’s revenue for the year. The reputational and financial risk was extreme.” On Acquia Cloud, HousingWire’s site is now reliable and page load times are faster than ever before.

Acquia provides what I think a managed cloud service is supposed to. Short of coding, everything else gets handled, and that’s how it should be.
Paul Jackson
Founder and CEO, HousingWire

Company Information

HW Publishing LLC
News service covering lending, servicing and investments in U.S. residential mortgages.
Financial Services
Drupal user since 2011
Acquia client since 2012
THE NUMBERS
  • HousingWire’s business has been growing at a pace of 250% per year since 2008
  • 80% of their revenue comes from the website through advertising dollars
  • On Acquia Cloud, their site is now reliable and page load times are faster than ever before

SUCCESS ENABLED WITH

  • Acquia Cloud
  • Acquia Network with Support