The Challenge: How do you migrate multiple websites to Pantheon and change Drupal support providers with many technological hurdles along the way in just three weeks?
The Structural Building Components Association (SBCA) is the only international trade association representing manufacturers of structural building components. Its members include manufacturers of roof and floor trusses, wall panels, and other light-frame wood components. Recently the company faced a huge challenge: due to a dispute with their service provider, they needed to change the hosting and support for many of their websites. With over a dozen websites to migrate and less than a month to get up and running — SBCA needed a Drupal expert who could understand and overcome their numerous technical challenges, offer creative solutions, and provide a managed hosting platform with workflows to manage what previously caused headaches. The project needed to be completed in record time. They called Molly Duggan Associates.
OnDemand Drupal Support
Molly Duggan Influence
Site speed increase
days to migrate 8 websites and a SaaS application
SBCA Needed a Trusted Partner
SBCA’s Managing Director, Molly Butz, was tasked with finding the right partner to handle the migration. The organization primarily serves its membership base of 500 component manufacturing companies and 150 associate suppliers. SBCA’s members are provided networking opportunities, technical information, content, and overall help to do their jobs better. Molly Butz had been with SBCA for years and understood the importance of finding an expert to move several key web properties to new hosting. Everything had to work seamlessly and be future-proof for future website iterations as the association evolved.
The Solution: Use Pantheon as a capable and scalable hosting solution for all SBCA websites while SBCA’s SaaS application needed a more custom solution.
SBCA needed to move to a new framework in real-time without losing data or document downloads. In particular, SBCA documents were an essential component of their overall website offering, as many of their members relied on these downloads for education and project compliance. They needed a solution to resolve hosting issues and create new functionality on some of their most significant current projects. Compounding it all was the extreme time crunch in which everyone needed to work — just 21 days to complete the entire project.
“What stood out to me about working with Molly Duggan was the expedited service. They understood the emergency of the situation and prioritized the client,” said Butz.
Multi-Domain Site Installation
One of SBCA’s installations was a multi-domain site — a single Drupal instance with multiple themes, modules, and domains running from a single shared database. Adding to the complexity was an integrated Single Sign-On (SSO) from a deprecated external server with many tentacles throughout the highly customized Drupal application. The SSO integrations needed to be deconstructed and replaced with Drupal’s authentication system.
Migrating the multi-site would seem to be a monster of a migration. However, the Drupal development team at Molly Duggan Associates, led by Erik Cochran, CTO of Molly Duggan Associates, applied a methodical approach using project management applications and daily client communications via Slack and email channels to achieve the migration and make changes within just a few days.
When it came to the SBCA SaaS application, the application did not initially work on Pantheon due to a minor platform limitation. Molly Duggan’s team solved the issue by creating an alternative external server-side solution to support the SaaS application minimizing any downtime for SBCA’s customers.
“Molly Duggan created an external resource that processed our clients’ custom documentation requests,” said Butz. “They re-engineered a resource-intensive application into an external mini-application in just a few weeks, which was extremely effective.”
Pantheon as a Solution
SBCA faced two big challenges. First, they needed a cost-effective and scalable hosting environment, and second, the SBCA marketing team needed easy-to-use development workflows for faster website iterations. “Pantheon solved both of these issues,” points out Molly Duggan, CEO of Molly Duggan Associates. “If you’re not already on Pantheon, it’s easy not to know what you’re missing out on,” adds Erik.
“It’s an obvious choice once we demonstrate the user-friendly workflows, ” explains Molly Duggan. “Pantheon helps keep our client’s sites scalable, safe, and secure while making it easier to keep their most valuable marketing assets in lock-step with their organizational goals with a workflow that supports faster iterations.”
SBCA lacked a clear workflow from development and testing environments to live or production environments with scalability. “It’s easy to overlook what you don’t know when you’re not informed of best-in-class tools,” says Erik. “Enforcing one-directional code workflows that move from DEV to TEST to LIVE ensures that rouge developers can’t push code or hotfixes directly to your public-facing website without testing and cross-checking.”
Pantheon deployment workflow similarities to airports
Pantheon provides tools for agencies that take workflow to the next level by offering multidev environments. These environments allow agencies to work in separate environments simultaneously on new features, upgrades, and updates.
Pantheon’s multidev and DEV-TEST-LIVE workflow is like an airport runway. Essentially, the multidev environments are the airport gates, and DEV-TEST-LIVE environments are the runway. “If you apply the airport to Pantheon’s workflow, the airplanes at the gates are new features waiting to be deployed down the runway,” says Erik. “Once a feature is ready to be deployed, it taxi’s to the runway and deploys from DEV to TEST to LIVE on a single path.” Like a plane, if the changes aren’t ready for deployment, you can always abort before pushing LIVE. No other platform provides this type of enforced workflow that delivers a safe and secure deployment methodology.
“We were in search of a responsive partner that could prove their communication methods and tactics would be a perfect match for SBCA,” says Butz. “During our first meeting, the Molly Duggan team reacted to all of our organizational needs with methods and tools that put our concerns at ease.”
Molly Duggan’s Drupal Support offers effective tools to deliver exceptional client experiences that include a helpdesk for managing all customer requests, a community and customer-specific knowledge base for up-to-date how-to articles and tutorials, and finally, an open Slack channel for speedy communication.
Most importantly, Molly Duggan’s Drupal Support service was originally created to help their customers ideate and improve website experiences on any regular interval their clients’ desire.
Ultimately, SBCA can rest assured that their site will always be up-to-date with Molly Duggan’s proactive web support model.
The Results: SBCA migrated multiple websites and applications in record time offering more flexibility and future ideation
Each of the sites was migrated on time despite the time crunch. Now SBCA has dedicated support via Molly Duggan, with an easy-to-use helpdesk and ticketing system for faster ideation, feature updates, and site upgrades.
“Looking back, what stood out to me was the respect I felt working with Molly Duggan Associates — so much so that it didn’t feel like working with an agency but more like an in-house partner,” says Butz.
The most noticeable results came from increased site efficiencies.
“With the new hosting, the site functioned quicker because it was moved from a big shared ecosystem. Site speed on our most trafficked pages has significantly improved,” says Butz.
Most importantly, the agency’s work reduced any anxiety the company felt as future changes needed to be made. All changes now happen in a secure multidev environment that allows testing and iteration until SBCA approves the release to go live.
“The aspect of control and knowing the problems we experienced relating to hosting workflows and efficiencies won’t arise again is huge,” says Butz. “There’s been no loss of functionality in our site — but there has been so much improvement.”
Molly Butz, added: “I appreciated the flexibility of the agency and a lot of the amazing attention they gave us when we needed it the most.”