Just Say Yes: Reducing the Complexity of Multisite Deployments [May 27, 2014]
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“No,” for better or worse, is part of every IT and Web professional’s daily vocabulary.
Usually, saying “no” leaves one group hanging or another strapped for resources. But what if you didn’t have to say “no” and could deliver the best of both worlds for all involved parties?
Acquia Cloud Site Factory is a SaaS platform for delivering many extraordinary web experiences that enables IT and Web professionals to get to “Yes” through a robust content authoring and website management experience. The platform allows IT to focus on their highest value work while allowing the digital marketing team to meet the demands of the business with agility, governance, and full IT visibility. These benefits are achieved with NO software to install, NO servers to manage, and NO snowflake websites that lead to maintenance headaches. Now that’s the kind of “no” we like to hear!
We’re hosting a webinar with our technical partner, Appnovation, so we can show you Site Factory in action. In addition to seeing a demo of the latest product enhancements, you’ll also learn how Acquia Cloud Site Factory can help IT and Web teams:
• Reduce the cost to manage large multisite deployments
• Simplify site creation by giving marketing the ability to build and launch their own sites
• Free up time to work on more business-critical apps
Moderator: Just Say Yes: Reducing the Complexity of Multisite Deployments. We’ve got Gary Wu who’s the Product Manager for Acquia Cloud Site Factory from Acquia. We’re also joined by our friends from Appnovation Technologies. We’ve got Andy Mao who’s the Channel Enablement Coordinator as well as Kevin Madden who’s the Business Analyst both from Appnovation. We’re really excited to have them on the call today.
Gary Wu: Hi everyone, my name is Gary Wu and I’m Product Manager for Acquia Cloud Site Factory. Today, we’d like to help you say yes and help you reduce the complexity of delivering multisite deployments. In today’s market, what we’ve seen in speaking with our customers, our partners, with prospects is that the demand for creating new digital experiences, outpacing organizations ability to deliver and what this has led to is strain and friction between digital marketing and the IT teams. Digital marketers need to be able to very quickly adapt to the speed of their market. Oftentimes, they’ll want to launch new campaigns, new brand sites and it needs to be done immediately in order to capitalize upon the market opportunity but when they go and request the site from the IT teams - you know oftentimes, IT is in a quandary because they’ve got a number of strategic projects that they’re working on and they don’t really have the bandwidth to take on these last-minute requests where websites may need to be delivered in the next week or the next two weeks. So, that’s a really challenging spot for organizations to be in because they know that they have these strategic IT projects that need be completed but they also know that they need to help their digital marketing organizations be successful in order to capitalize on the market opportunity and for those organizations to achieve their business goals.
So, what can organizations do? Well, we know that organizations are really looking to achieve systems of customer engagement that really deliver the best of both worlds, where marketers gain the agility and the freedom to connect with their digital consumers and where the process in the approach that is used to deliver these sites scales effectively to meet the needs of IT. To help achieve this goal, what we at Acquia - is deliver the Acquia Cloud Site Factory, which we believe is the most efficient way to manage the delivery of many sites. With Acquia Cloud Site Factory, we provide agility for organizations to a scalable process and approach to delivering these sites through an efficient platform. Let me talk about each of these areas one by one. From an agility perspective, we want to help digital marketers be able to deliver engaging content-rich sites at the speed of the business without having to burden IT. Now, this doesn’t mean that IT does not play a role in this process. On the contrary, we do believe that IT still plays a very critical role in ensuring that the delivery of the sites meets their strict requirements whether it be for security, for quality of service and so on. Now, these sites can be delivered within Site Factory using a highly scalable approach where our goal is to help our customers deliver sites in days instead of in weeks or months using a repeatable, predictable site governance approach that’s based upon the use of site templates, which we’ll talk about a few minutes. Then finally, we want organizations to gain efficiency by simplifying their operational management and by removing the risks in delivering a large number of sites through a managed software as a service offering like Site Factory.
Let me talk about Acquia Cloud Site Factory in a little bit more detail. What is it? Well, it’s a fully integrated site platform that provides all the tools necessary for organizations to build engaging sites, to deliver them around the world with 24/7 availability and to manage those sites whether you’re managing tens of sites or even hundreds. By providing all of these capabilities in a single software as a service offering, then customers are able to benefit from this platform through a salary delivery of their branded experiences with their consumers. They are able to achieve, increase site governance through the use of site templates. They are also able to reduce the cost of managing large multisite deployments.
Now, we have many customers using Site Factory today. So I’d like to quickly just review with you some of the benefits that they’ve seen as a result of being able to create large numbers of websites within Site Factory through the site template approach. For a large global consumer pharmaceutical located here in North America, this organization was able to reduce the time it took for them to deliver branded sites for their global consumers for a matter of four to six weeks down to about 14 days as a result of standardizing on a common framework for their consumer branded sites. Warner Music Group is also is another user. They were able to deliver over 300 artists sites built on top of Site Factory though the use of three site templates. So, with three site templates they were able to deliver these numbers of sites and also decrease the time it took for them to complete the delivery. A large hospital campus located in the South East of the United States was able to consolidate many web properties across 22 of their hospital campuses onto a single platform in order to provide a more consistent branded presence for the health practitioners. They were able to achieve this again as a result of using templates to standardize the presentation and the content of their practitioner websites.
Now, with Acquia Cloud Site Factory, you’re really able to leverage the power of Drupal to build engaging online experiences that are responsive. You’re able to do this as a result of a version of Drupal that we include by default with the Site Factory platform and we call this the Drupal Gardens distribution. It really includes a best of collection of some of the Drupal communities most well known and most popular features including the use for creating dynamic queries, web forms, media, and more. We literally have hundreds of some of the most popular modules already included within this out-of-the-box Drupal experience. In addition, we also provide the Theme Builder, which is a point and click theming tool that’s embedded within the Drupal Gardens distribution. It enables you to point and click and create a very compelling and very dynamic visual presentation, and just to show you some of the experiences, as you can see some of the sites that have been created within Site Factory on screen.
Now, in addition to using the out-of-the-box Drupal experience that we provide by default, customers are also able to bring their own version of Drupal to the Site Factory platform. If you already have a new Drupal-based application or you’ve worked with a partner or other technology specialists to create a tailored Drupal experience for your own use cases, you can feel free to bring those into the Site Factory platform to use those as the starting point for the new sites that you create.
Now, one of the key capabilities of the Site Factory platform that enables the IT organization to rapidly scale and to deliver sites at the pace of the business? It’s through this notion of the site templates. With site templates, you’re essentially capturing website patterns that enable marketers to quickly instantiate new sites based out of successful patterns of sites that have worked very well in the past. Once you create this new site templates, then you can very easily launch hundreds of websites by simply duplicating new sites from those templates. Let me just talk about that a little bit more detailed because this really provides an incredibly powerful capability for you to: one, rapidly deliver sites to markets much more quickly; and two, to also ensure that you have consistency within your sites whether they be from the branding perspective, to ensure that you have a very consistent presentation of your organization’s brand and also from the perspective of how you configure your sites because how you configure your sites also determines how easy it can be going forward managing and maintaining those sites going forward. Through the use of site templates, you are able to essentially use Drupal to capture the core informational architecture of page layouts, roles and permissions, feature configurations, content types and so on that you believe are necessary for your sites. So for example, you may create one template for perhaps marketing campaign sites that you want to be able to rapidly spin up and then, you may create a second site template for the key brand sites that you may want to create. Once you have your set of templates identified, when you want to spin up a new site for any one of those site types, then it’s just a matter of configuring a site that’s been instantiated from any one of those templates with site-specific content and material and you’re done. This is really a very important way for organizations to very easily launch sites but also ensure the degree of consistency that may be desired.
In addition to being able to use site templates as a means of tailoring your sites, you’re also able to customize the Drupal instance that you have deployed within Site Factory as a starting point. You’ll be able to customize with confidence because Site Factory provides a continuous integration workflow experience that enables you to validate new modules or new features that you’ve enabled for your Drupal instance work well against sites that are already live in production and you’re able to test these changes within a staging environment without affecting your production sites. Once you’re comfortable that the new features or that the customizations you’ve made through Drupal work well, then you can deploy the changes from staging into production at which point will automatically enable whatever new features or modules that you’ve added to the codebase to all of the sites within Site Factory. Now, this is a core concept of Site Factory because unlike other platforms where each site is truly unique and may end up becoming a snowflake in its own right. With Site Factory, our goal is to help you deliver large numbers of sites by leveraging a consistent Drupal codebase, and then leveraging patterns of sites for the highest degree of consistency. So, if you have a need to create sites where there’s uniform configuration, but where you may want the highest degree of flexibility in creating really unique themed experiences, then Site Factory is going to be a really capable solution for your needs.
Now, with Site Factory - I’ll finish up by saying that we have three different service tiers available depending upon your specific needs; depending upon whether you’re looking more for convenience; or for more control and customizability. If your needs are perhaps simpler and are perhaps more oriented around brochureware types of sites, then we have the Acquia Cloud Site Factory SaaS edition where you’re able to leverage a rich out-of-the-box experience in building your sites. This tier doesn’t allow you to add Drupal modules but you really have a really easily to use out-of-the-box Drupal experience at your fingertips. Acquia will maintain the platform and manage the Drupal codebase for you. All you have to focus on is building great sites through the Site Factory platform. If you want the maximum degree of control on the other hand, then we offer the PaaS edition which allows you to experience all the benefits of Drupal with all of its capabilities and customize ability. With the PaaS edition, you’re able to customize the default instance of Drupal that we provide as part of Site Factory to your heart’s content, or you can bring your own Drupal distribution to begin with and of course extend that as necessary. Now, if you’re looking for a balance between convenience and control that is you recognize that you may need some number of Drupal modules but you may not necessarily have the resources at hand to maintain those modules, then we provide the SaaS+ subscription tier where after undergoing a module certification process, Acquia will maintain the modules that you want added to your Drupal distribution on a go-forward basis. Okay, we can definitely provide you with more information around those. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. At this point, I’ll now hand over control to Andy.
Andy Mao: Thanks, Gary. Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining the webinar. My name is Andy Mao and I’m the Channel Enablement Coordinator of Appnovation Technologies. To give you a brief background of what Appnovation is, we’re the world’s leading open source development shop with over 150 clients, having delivered nearly 400 projects since our inception. We have six different office locations and we’re headquartered in Vancouver, BC; our US operations are running all of Atlanta; and we also have an office in London, UK. Through these offices, we have been able to serve companies around the world. The technologies we use include: Drupal, Alfresco, MuleSoft, SproutCore, HTML5, Mobile App, MongoDB and E-Commerce. Some of our more notable clients include: NBC Universal, Intel, Pfizer, NBA, Google, Fox News, American Express, Reebok, and the US Department of Defense. We also have some great experience with open source technology as we’re the only company in the world that holds enterprise for like Acquia partner, a MuleSoft partner, and a Platinum Alfresco partner. Today, our speaker is Kevin Madden who is our Appnovation Business Analyst with the background in digital publishing dating back to 1999 and here, I will pass the ball to Kevin.
Kevin Madden: What you can now see I hope is a website that we called “[Any State]”. It was based on some thoughts we had around local government sites. So, state sites, county sites and business what I would describe as the user experience for the home page. It got a big slideshow at the top of the page. It has a very clear navigation across the top and some of the information you might want to put into a site. Further down the page we’ve got: department pages, we’ve got blog content, we’ve got obviously – it’s a pretty standard display. What I’m going to do is I’m going to create a duplicate of that site. Now, I’m going to - in order to do that I need to be logged in. This is the same site. I’m now the logged in administrator. What I do is quite simply is I click on my site’s button and you’ll now see my background. You can see we created a number of sites in different guises as Gary mentioned earlier. It is an incredibly agile piece of kit and it works fantastically well unlike my screen.
What I’m going to do now is get the group sites that we’ve already put together - and this is the site that you were looking at. What I’m going to do with that site is I’m going to create a duplicate site. It’s quite straightforward and I click - or click on the button. I have to name that site, so I’m going to call it “Today’s Demo”. I get a choice essentially of two elements. I can create a clean copy of the site, which means that I get core functionality, core uses and no content. What I’m going to do this time is to create a clone of the site, so you could see the exact duplicate site. I’m going to hit the duplicate button. At the bottom righthand corner of my screen, you’ll see my email. It will send me an email at the site. It’s generated. It’s not instant but it’s very, very quick and quite impressive.
In the meantime, what I wanted to show you was the fact that the site is fully responsive. We put in, if you look now, I’m now logged out and I’m on a slightly different browser but you could see this is my desktop experience on the left and I can run through those sites with my big menus. I can go to various departments, get my information - classic sites and the noble sites, you can see presentation is instantly, same site, same URL but picking up every element of the site - say, again with a simple mobile navigation. In the meantime, I just want to check if my site is ready yet. It’s not there yet. We can still see Catherine on the right-hand corner. I was really hoping that I could ask if anybody had questions about the site. Are there any features or elements that you’d like me to demonstrate because it really is that easy to create a second or third site?
Moderator: Sure. We can open it that up to Q&A at this time. There’s a Q&A tab in the WebEx UI for anyone on the call. If you have a question, please submit it there. We have a couple ones waiting already, so we can get started. This is just more a general question about Site Factory. Is there a limit to how many site templates you can create?
Gary Wu: I can take that one. There are no limits to the number of site templates. Our users are able to create within the Site Factory platform. Whether you have a handful or you have tens or more, we don’t really keep track of nor do we care how many templates are created as long as users of Site Factory are able to satisfy all their business needs in launching new sites quickly.
Moderator: Okay. Next question, can you [Audio Gap]?
Kevin Madden: I will say briefly again to slightly help Gary. I think we’ve created something like 21 separate sites already and we’ve created them into groups. Not great designs as you can see from the screen but, yes, it’s very, very straightforward to create more sites and - you just keep adding basically. You can create different functionality with each site.
Moderator: Great. Next question, sorry I thought you are from here. [Laughter] Can you base a template off of an existing website?
Gary Wu: Yes. We really have seen two approaches for users creating site templates within Site Factory. The first is that from prior experience in creating new campaign sites or brand sites. An organization may already have a sense of the types of site patterns that they may want to create. As a result, they may already have an idea of that site template structure and its contents. They’ll just create that off the bat. Now, alternatively we’ve also seen users of Site Factory create patterns or identified patterns of sites after they’ve created a number of websites. They may have deployed, one - the first, second, third, fourth or fifth site. Then, after having done that number of sites they may recognize that, “Ah, yes. One of these sites actually would be a great starting point for new sites going forward.” I think that you saw during the demo that there is an option as part of Site Factory site duplication action to actually copy an existing site and to make it a starting point for a new site template. Organizations have been very successful using their existing sites as a starting point, and then using one of those existing sites as a site template for future sites.
Moderator: Great, okay. This next question is for Appnovation. This is the last question I have in my queue, so if anyone on the line still have - bringing questions, please ask away. We have plenty of time to get to your response. So, here we go with the last question. This is for the Appnovation folks. To build the site that you demoed, did you use the Site Factory distro a custom one?
Kevin Madden: Sorry, can you repeat that please?
Moderator: Sure. To build the site that you demoed today, did you use a Site Factory distro or a custom one?
Kevin Madden: We used Site Factory distro and the SaaS+. We have some modules in there that we’ve used ourselves - that we did for ourselves, but essentially it’s the SaaS product not the PaaS product.
Moderator: Okay, great. All right, well that looks like all the questions that we have for today. We’re wrapping up a little early for you guys giving you about a half [Laughter] an hour back in your day. Hope you enjoyed that. I just want to say on behalf of Acquia, thank you everyone for attending. Thank you Gary, Andy and Kevin for the excellent presentation. Again, on my end of side will be posted to SlideShare, and the recorded webinar will be posted to Acquia.com within the next 24 hours.
Kevin Madden: Okay, we’ll [Crosstalk]. Sorry.
Kevin Madden: What I was going to say, we haven’t quite seen these sites yet, but here’s one that I did prepare earlier just in case it didn’t come through because this is copied from the same sites about half an hour ago and one duplicate site. It took about 15 minutes to get it up, I mean it’s there. It’s ready to rock and roll.
Kevin Madden: That’s how fast - it really - I can’t emphasize enough what quite an amazing piece of kit Site Factory is. It really works incredibly well and the speed of delivery is amazing. It really is. Thank you.
Moderator: Fantastic. Thank you so much. That was really nice to see you. It’s just a little treat at the end. Thanks everyone for joining. Like I said, the webinar will be posted to our site in the next 24 hours, then we’ll email out a copy. Take care.