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Pharmaceutical Giant

Pharmaceutical giant transforms digital presence with Acquia

Acquia Cloud and Acquia Cloud Site Factory provide flexible, faster solution for delivering hundreds of digital experiences

Recently, a giant in the pharmaceutical industry found that the number of its digital properties had exploded. Most sites were custom developed to support individual brands or markets, and few shared a common platform. The firm’s IT department, convinced there had to be a better way, began a search for a platform. After careful evaluation of all available solutions, the company sought to standardize on Drupal for all its commercial sites.

Quality, security, and scalability were key considerations in the selection of Drupal, as were speed to market and lower cost. In the end, two finalists were evaluated with critical use cases. Drupal, with the benefits brought by Acquia, won.

The Solution

What the company found, both from its extensive evaluation and previous experience, was that open source solutions, and Drupal in particular, were far more efficient and effective than proprietary solutions. A proprietary solution might offer a very large feature set, but in almost all cases, it would require extensive customization to fit a particular use case, adding time and expense to the development cycle. Even when implemented, the solution would not scale past a dozen implementations before the budget ran out.

This led the company to choose the Acquia Platform as the foundation of its digital success. The Acquia Platform provides Digital Experience Solutions to unify content, community, and commerce with the power of Drupal, the most flexible content management system (CMS). The Acquia Platform easily connects brand, social, and commerce experiences to provide a unified experience that is seamless across devices and channels.

Continuous integration is the gold standard of coding best practices, and the Acquia Platform’s Digital Experience Cloud is built around these principles. Having a continuous integration environment was crucial for the company. The Digital Experience Cloud streamlined the development process with tools that increased team productivity and the quality of application design; it also provides a hosting environment and service that is secure, reliable, and scalable. This is what the company used to build the foundation of its digital strategy.

For a heavily regulated industry, content deployment becomes a big issue. The company needed a solution to deploy content only after extensive scrutiny, to guarantee it always met all regulatory requirements before going live on a production site. Using Jenkins, the open source continuous integration tool, integrated with Acquia Cloud, the company was able to devise a deployment strategy that fully met these needs.

Deploying hundreds of Drupal sites required an influx of Drupal talent. Acquia employees are some of the top experts in the field. As consultants, they became so integrated into the company’s workflow that the company viewed them as part of their internal team. For example, Acquia staff evaluate vendor plans to assure large projects follow Drupal best practices, saving the company time and money and avoiding problems down the road. Acquia also referred the company to other sources of Drupal talent.

Perhaps the most critical factor in the project’s success was the company’s need for the CMS to handle a range of projects from multilingual applications to simple, one-page sites promoting an event—a core capability of another Acquia Platform component: Acquia Cloud Site Factory.

When developing hundreds of sites, certain patterns became clear. The company created a template on Acquia Cloud Site Factory that included the standard modules they deploy to every site; then it added as many other features as possible from this pattern. Even security testing for the smaller sites happened in the Acquia Cloud Site Factory. Time-to-market and costs decreased dramatically for these sites.

Scaling sites became almost effortless. As anyone with experience in managing web properties can tell you, websites are not static; they are living, dynamic entities. If a small Acquia Cloud Site Factory site grows and takes on a life of its own, it can be easily exported and graduate to the more flexible PaaS platform to better handle its development.

A recent Total Economic Impact study, by Forrester Research, showed the effect of adopting Acquia Cloud Site Factory on four companies. Forrester determined that a composite of these companies will achieve nearly a 950 percent return on their investment in the technology.

To set itself up for future growth, the company wanted a single enterprise platform that would work for the company internally and externally, across every single part of the business. That’s the Acquia Platform.

The Results

The choice of Drupal has delivered on its promise. The company has all the quality, security, and capability they seek, with scalability, lower costs, and faster speed to market. In some cases, sites that would have taken months to launch can be delivered with full approval in days. With hundreds of sites launched in hundreds of days, the platform is working very well.

The company excitedly awaits the Drupal 8 release. This new version of Drupal offers even more quality, security, and flexibility. With Drupal 8 will come the ultimate in platform excellence, and the investment for migrating the modules needed is nowhere near the cost of switching to another technology. The company is determined to lead the way in moving Drupal 8 forward.

The pharmaceutical giant recognizes the benefits of contributing back to the Drupal open source community. One initiative in which the company’s Drupal experts have engaged is Large Scale Drupal (www.largescaledrupal.com), a program run by Acquia. Large Scale Drupal provides a forum for collaboration between the largest organizations using Drupal, where they can work together to develop solutions to common problems through the community process. This group helps to optimize the business model of open source, in which a company invests in code contributed to the community, then reaps many times the original investment in community contributions developing the code further. With the promise of Drupal 8 and Large Scale Drupal, the company expects to be building with Drupal for years to come.

In three years, Forrester stated, a composite organization based on the Acquia Cloud Site Factory customers interviewed will achieve nearly a 950 percent return on their investment in the technology, realize a payback on their investment in a little more than two months, and reduce their overall site costs. One of the organizations interviewed was able to reduce its overall site costs by as much as 80 percent.
Success Enabled With...
  • Drupal 7
  • Acquia Cloud
  • Large Scale Drupal
  • Acquia Cloud Site Factory