Going Beyond Drupal Multisite with Acquia Cloud Site Factory

When it comes to managing multiple sites, Drupal on its own can take care of the basics. For example, replicas of sites can be created, multiple related sites can share the same code base but have different custom modules, modules can be easily updated across sites and spinning up new sub-sites for working on specific issues or features is quick and easy. Adding to these features, a multisite environment can be memory efficient. 

So when would an organization need something more than what Drupal provides out of the box? Acquia customers have found that over time, their IT teams struggle to keep up in supporting more than a couple dozen sites. The tools for managing them are lacking, there is no one to turn to for help when things go wrong and the environment becomes cumbersome at best and a security and performance risk at worse. Before coming to Acquia, organizations at times have tried building their own tools to help with scaling their multisite environment but often have found their teams were then bogged down not only by maintaining their growing farm of Drupal servers but also by maintaining their homegrown, multiserver tool. 

To help these customers, Acquia Cloud Site Factory was built for organizations that need to manage and govern multiple Drupal sites centrally while allowing for distributed creativity. Site Factory takes the burden off IT departments and enhances the experience of managing multiple sites on a day-to-day basis. In fact, once a Site Factory platform is set up, teams can easily create sanctioned sites without the help of IT or any other deeply technical resource. One of the most important features of Site Factory is that it allows organizations to scale their efforts without having to increase resources in IT. 

Today, every Site Factory customer enjoys the services Acquia provides, which allows them to innovate with the following tools: 

Hosting and Monitoring Acquia Cloud Site Factory provides is a high-availability hosting and monitoring infrastructure for client sites, including support for all software and physical equipment to maintain flawless operations. An operations team is available 24 hours per day, and servers are continuously pinged to alert when issues arise. Further, our team takes multiple snapshots throughout the day to prevent data loss. Varnish® is provided in front of all Acquia load-balancing servers, increasing website performance by caching content requests and then serving them from memory, rather than making requests directly to the web server.

Drupal-Tuned LAMP Stack Every Site Factory customer receives an Acquia-tested, Drupal-tuned LAMP stack along with development and stage environments, as well as the ability to use additional environments should your development process require them.

Standards Compliance Acquia takes care of pen-tests, and we perform monthly and quarterly audits to comply with standards such as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), ISO-27001, SOC-1, SOC-2, PCI-DSS, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). 

Global Acquia Support Site Factory provides professional Drupal support and how-to guidance from a global team of Drupal experts. Acquia Support can provide guidance on how to solve every type of issue, and they are available 24/7 to respond to any incidents.

Integrated Management Console Allows global site administrators to utilize an easy-to-use web admin console for creating, removing, duplicating and organizing sites. It also provides centralized, role-based user management.

Single Sign-On Site Factory helps users reduce the number of accounts and passwords to maintain by using SSO, giving users access to the sites they are granted permission with a single click.

Remote Admin Services With this service, Acquia takes responsibility for Drupal security updates in your Acquia Cloud Site Factory codebase. The Remote Admin team creates an additional “RA” environment in your Acquia Cloud Site Factory installation, and when Drupal security updates become necessary, Acquia updates the RA environment with the needed changes. Acquia will then notify you that the updates are ready to be tested. Organizations are responsible for tagging and deploying branches for additional testing and deploying the tested tag to production using the Site Factory Management Console.

Consecutive Code Deployments Code deployments in Acquia Cloud Site Factory are performed consecutively, instead of concurrently, to minimize the amount of time any single website on your platform is unavailable to visitors of your website. Acquia Cloud Site Factory manages the deployment process for you, ensuring your code deploys to all your websites as efficiently as possible without intervention by your team. You can track the progress of the process to determine status.

Acquia Cloud Site Factory REST API The REST API allows teams to create and manage websites on your platform, trigger and monitor scheduled assignments, create backups and clear caches on any site created from within Site Factory.

Acquia Cloud Site Factory Hooks Simplify code deployments and trigger the execution of custom code at multiple points during site installation, deployment and run time.

Drush Perform administrative and application maintenance tasks from the command line more efficiently comparatively to the Drupal administrative interface.

Acquia BLT BLT, an automation layer for continuous integration and development of advanced Drupal projects, saves setup and onboarding time while improving quality and collaboration through tried-and-true best practices. BLT provides both a common set of tools and a standardized structure.

Acquia Lightning Acquia packages a distribution of Drupal formed by thousands of Drupal sites. Lighting contains many commonly used modules, as well as some Acquia-built, cutting- edge modules for tasks such as page-layout building for site builders. Acquia Lighting can easily be added to Site Factory for use by any customer.

Available Add-Ons

Acquia also offers the following products and services as part of the Acquia suite of Site Factory that customers may purchase:

  • Site Factory Stacks To support multiple Drupal code-bases, additional “stacks” are available, which can be administered under the same web admin console.  

  • Acquia Lift A personalization tool that provides marketers insight to user data and profiles.

  • Acquia Cloud Edge Protect Provides security to your website with protection against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks through a web application firewall (WAF) and high-speed DNS. Acquia Cloud Edge Protect examines web traffic looking for suspicious activity.

  • Acquia Cloud Edge CDN A globally load-balanced content delivery network (CDN) ensures visitors interact with your website at the fastest possible speeds, irrespective of their physical location.

  • Acquia Cloud Shield A dedicated, logically isolated section of Acquia Cloud Enterprise, adding more network-level security and capabilities to the stack. Acquia Cloud Shield is available as an add-on service.

  • Acquia Search A plug-and-play search service for your websites delivers great search features in minutes. Contact your Acquia sales representative for information if you want to use this service.

Conclusion 

If your organization maintains one or two sites, the multisite function in Drupal will likely provide the right level of support needed. To scale beyond this, Acquia Cloud Site Factory can get you there faster, more efficiently, and with significantly better security and support. Your team will thank you.

Stephen Skidmore

Director of product marketing Acquia

Stephen Skidmore is the director of product marketing for Acquia DAM. He has more than 20 years working for software technology driving product innovation and go-to-market for companies including Lotus, IBM, and EMC. Skidmore also ran his own consulting business helping technology companies develop their product strategies.