Case Study

University of Virginia (UVA): Centralized Site Delivery

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With numerous content creators, UVA needed a platform that would decrease the cost per ownership per department.


Finding a solution that provided central site delivery and governance while still providing autonomy to different departments presented challenges.

Our Solution

Acquia Site Factory


68 legacy hardware sites have been completely replaced.

The Client

The University of Virginia (UVA) encompasses 12 schools in Charlottesville and the College at Wise in southwest Virginia. Not including the College at Wise, the University employs nearly 30,000 people, including approximately 16,000 faculty and staff, and approximately 12,000 Health System employees. In 2019, the University was ranked the Number 3 best public university by U.S. News & World Report.

The Situation

With a variety of content creators, UVA needed a platform that would allow faculty, small departments/centers, and labs to create websites that maintained a high level of brand consistency and user experience. Simultaneously, the University wanted to reduce the average cost-per-ownership per department — and it needed to accomplish this prior to its existing Drupal 7 sites reaching version end-of-life.

The Challenge

Like many institutions of higher learning, UVA has individual departments, most of which are autonomous with their own budgets, leadership and needs. The school’s ITS Custom Applications & Consulting Services (CACS) managed 300 of its websites and, with the retirement of another solution, it became clear that a more scalable, central site-delivery and governance approach would be necessary in order to include the additional thousands of University-affiliated sites. 

The Solution

UVA sought a solution that allowed flexibility for students, professors, researchers, departments, administrators and other affiliated groups to have autonomy over their own sites while meeting stringent security and accessibility standards. The University partnered with Digital Echidna and ultimately selected Acquia Site Factory due to its superior multisite management functionality. 

The teams performed a deep-dive assessment of UVA’s Drupal 7 codebase to provide as much common functionality as possible, then developed mobile-friendly, UVA-branded templates. Additionally, Digital Echidna regularly offers department staff Drupal training courses, helping improve adoption and proficiency. 

The Results

Since the deployment of Site Factory, UVA’s ITS team can quickly spin up a new site and train departments to add and edit content. New sites are ready for content creation within hours, and 68 legacy hardware sites have been completely replaced. Additionally, the cost of ownership per department has been reduced. From a user perspective, users now receive a similar experience across the entire University system rather than having to learn to navigate vastly different sites for each department