Choosing the Right Digital Experience Provider

Guest blogger Adam DeGiorgio is a Director at Salsa Digital, an Acquia agency partner. Adam was Salsa’s very first employee back in 2003 and has spent most of his tenure as Managing Director. Recently, he moved into a relationship management role to spend more time working with clients, his true passion. This is part one of a three part series.

Salsa is the go-to agency for enterprise grade digital services without the rigmarole or price tag of the larger players. We're a small team that has tailored our software development skill-set to suit the digital world, and crafted a Drupal development team to rival any in Australia. We also run an enterprise app development team helping large Australian organisations transform typically manual processes to robust software solutions.
We've developed a rigorous methodology to minimise mistakes, manage clear expectations, and deliver quality results.

Salsa is a govCMS partner, and has been responsible for implementing some high profile sites, including the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) site, and more recently Australia’s first state level govCMS project for the state budget -

Salsa and Acquia

Originally, Salsa lost a number of tenders to Acquia and their partners in 2013. This caused us to pay some attention to what they were doing in the marketplace, and with government in particular. It was clear that a partnership would be beneficial for both companies. If you can’t beat them, then join them right? Salsa partnered with Acquia to deliver an incredibly responsive site on time and on budget, and executed high traffic load testing. Salsa migrated from Squiz Matrix to Acquia Enterprise in a rapid timeframe ready for the bush fire season in Australia. One of the biggest challenges was that the site needed to be able to respond to massive spikes in traffic in the case of an emergency. Salsa’s stress testing modelled the Black Saturday demand as well as a demand 10 times that of Black Saturday. 90% and 95% response time frequencies showcased the newly engineered site’s capability to support emergency response demands.

Most recently, Salsa has been working with leading legal firm to define a business case to move away from SiteCore and to Acquia, the first Drupal rollouts for this organisation. When they approached Salsa, they were in need of business case analysis, digital strategy and advice as well as development for their UK graduate recruitment site.

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Helping a Leading Legal Firm Stay on the Cutting Edge

Our client had been using a large consulting firm for many years, but were after a partner who specialised in Drupal, as they believed open source offered a viable solution to help reduce costs, decrease dependency on software vendors and increase speed to market for solutions. Previously, this organisation had been using SiteCore for many years which had lead to some challenges:

  • No ability to spin up sites quickly or using multi site infrastructure
  • Each new site, even small, required high license costs
  • Developing these micro sites was timely and expensive
  • Maintenance was a challenge - patching was manual, and costly

Only a small portion of SiteCore’s platform features were being utilised. It was estimated that only 20% of the capabilities were required, and configuring those capabilities was cumbersome, partially due to the hefty nature of the platform and superfluous functionality. This also made managing several sites at once difficult given the inability to easily share content between sites.

In an effort to help our client better manage multiple sites, Salsa recommended leveraging Drupal’s multi-site infrastructure. The creation of new sites would be fast and less costly, given the flexible nature of Drupal, the availability of resources and partners, and no need for additional license costs for each new site. Maintenance is already covered by Acquia’s enterprise cloud offering, removing a huge risk and inefficiency in managing the infrastructure. Drupal’s modular nature meant the platform could be managed to include only functionality that was required, and not offer an over-powered platform.

Content management was also a concern. In addition to multi-site, our client decided to utilise Acquia Content Hub. This made content management between sites easier and more efficient for administrators and non-technical users.

This organisation had a large suite of sites to deploy. The "Graduate" family of sites, for example, requires a different site for each of the 20+ countries in where they strong representation. Much of the content on these sites is the same, however there may be slight variations. These country sites also have multilingual requirements, further complicating the situation. Also, the Graduate family of sites is soon to be duplicated across two other "laterals", creating 60+ sites!

Acquia Content Hub allowed our client the ability to create content in one place, then share it amongst multiple sites. Each of the sites can be managed to include select content from the hub, but also to contain their own unique content if need be. Without Acquia Content Hub, the content would need to be managed separately across each of the sites, creating a maintenance nightmare, and seriously compromising our client’s ability to deliver on their digital strategy. The absence of a tool like Content Hub may have forced this organisation to tackle the problem in a different way, perhaps rendering unfeasible the requirement of separates sites for each country and lateral.

In our next post, we’ll discuss the details of the Acquia Content Hub implementation; the challenges and the successes. Stay tuned.