Drupal Universe

The Final Straw: Do You Trust Your Cloud Partner?

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-05-22 16:29

Do You Trust Your Cloud Partner

You can tell a lot about a company not just by how they treat their customers, but how they treat their partners as well. Digital agencies, systems integrators and technology vendors must work together seamlessly and in the spirit of true trust to create the best experiences for their customers. These partnerships need to be built not just on trust and good faith, but the mutual benefit of all three parties: vendor, partner and ultimately the client.

It’s been about a month since Adobe informed their partners that new architecture and launch services are required for what Adobe considers key “Experience Cloud (Adobe’s recent re-dubbing of its Marketing Cloud) deployments. In talking with our partners post-launch, it’s clear they are not happy. While it makes eminent sense for any technology vendor to be prepared to provide technical support to its partners and their mutual customers, this new and potentially expensive professional services agreement is mandatory and not the best nor most good-faith way to provide such services.

One reason for Adobe’s edict of mandatory launch service engagements could lie in the fact that the Adobe Marketing Cloud and it’s various components (like Adobe Experience Manager) are not true cloud solutions. This is “cloud-washing” at its worst and changes the way Adobe will work on cloud deployments with their partners. Their complicated integrations leave too much room for failure and now it seems they are demanding an exorbitant fee to ensure success. In a recent blog post referencing the 2017 Forrester Wave, David Aponovich, Sr. Director, Digital Experience at Acquia explained cloud-washing best:

They are painting over the reality that their WCM and related software is still being deployed on site, or on a traditional hosting environment …. perhaps with a sheen of ‘managed hosting’ assistance thrown in for good measure

At Acquia, we are committed to providing enablement (both sales and delivery) resources and 24/7 support to ensure that our partners are successful. Acquia also provides technical resources to our partners. In a cloud-native world, customers buy subscriptions and those subscriptions include Technical Account Managers - akin to dedicated support experts - who work with both the customer and partner to ensure success - both getting the customer project live and beyond. Rather than surprise its partners with mandatory launch services, Acquia includes Technical Account Management in all of its pricing. Acquia’s technical account managers (TAM) work in collaboration with both the partner and customer, not one or the other. Partners get to work with our TAMs to ensure that they can work alongside experienced experts to answer any questions or tackle any issues that may pop up during the course of a client deployment.. As a result of our long-standing commitment to providing TAM support, our solutions get integrated and deployed successfully. TAMs working with partners -- augmented by foundational training from partner delivery enablement -- result in seamless teams comprised of our respective talent. We believe this is a more elegant solution focused on collaboration and communication, both of which are critical to the success of a project.

When a partner and their client works with Acquia, the entire approach toward customer success is different. Yes, we price our TAMs into our agreements (and the choice to use a TAM’s services are optional depending on the level of the subscription selected) but the difference here is that there is transparency, teamwork and trust in our partners. We want partners to never feel they are being asked to “pay to play”, especially the exorbitant amounts Adobe is demanding. We do not believe that this sort of “protection money” is any way to manage partner relationships. Customer success should always be the top priority; TAMS are included to ensure technical support is provided, not an add-on designed to increase our own revenue.

Partner success is a constant priority for us at Acquia. Our commitment to them is to help them manage and stay ahead of the waves of continuous change sweeping over the world of digital marketing and digital experiences, helping them adapt to a future where we both succeed in the name of customer success.

If this is the final straw for you with Adobe, then contact Acquia and see how we do it. Call us at 1-888.922.7842 or email us at partners@acquia.com.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Friduction: the internet's unstoppable drive to eliminate friction

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-05-18 23:02

There is one significant trend that I have noticed over and over again: the internet's continuous drive to mitigate friction in user experiences and business models.

Since the internet's commercial debut in the early 90s, it has captured success and upset the established order by eliminating unnecessary middlemen. Book stores, photo shops, travel agents, stock brokers, bank tellers and music stores are just a few examples of the kinds of middlemen who have been eliminated by their online counterparts. The act of buying books, printing photos or booking flights online alleviates the friction felt by consumers who must stand in line or wait on hold to speak to a customer service representative.

Rather than negatively describing this evolution as disintermediation or taking something away, I believe there is value in recognizing that the internet is constantly improving customer experiences by reducing friction from systems — a process I like to call "friduction".

Open Source and cloud

Over the past 15 years, I have observed Open Source and cloud-computing solutions remove friction from legacy approaches to technology. Open Source takes the friction out of the technology evaluation and adoption process; you are not forced to get a demo or go through a sales and procurement process, or deal with the limitations of a proprietary license. Cloud computing also took off because it also offers friduction; with cloud, companies pay for what they use, avoid large up-front capital expenditures, and gain speed-to-market.

Cross-channel experiences

There is a reason why Drupal's API-first initiative is one of the topics I've talked and written the most about in 2016; it enables Drupal to "move beyond the page" and integrate with different user engagement systems that can eliminate inefficiencies and improve the user experience of traditional websites.

We're quickly headed to a world where websites are evolving into cross­channel experiences, which includes push notifications, conversational UIs, and more. Conversational UIs, such as chatbots and voice assistants, will prevail because they improve and redefine the customer experience.

Personalization and contextualization

In the 90s, personalization meant that websites could address authenticated users by name. I remember the first time I saw my name appear on a website; I was excited! Obviously personalization strategies have come a long way since the 90s. Today, websites present recommendations based on a user's most recent activity, and consumers expect to be provided with highly tailored experiences. The drive for greater personalization and contextualization will never stop; there is too much value in removing friction from the user experience. When a commerce website can predict what you like based on past behavior, it eliminates friction from the shopping process. When a customer support website can predict what question you are going to ask next, it is able to provide a better customer experience. This is not only useful for the user, but also for the business. A more efficient user experience will translate into higher sales, improved customer retention and better brand exposure.

To keep pace with evolving user expectations, tomorrow's digital experiences will need to deliver more tailored, and even predictive customer experiences. This will require organizations to consume multiple sources of data, such as location data, historic clickstream data, or information from wearables to create a fine-grained user context. Data will be the foundation for predictive analytics and personalization services. Advancing user privacy in conjunction with data-driven strategies will be an important component of enhancing personalized experiences. Eventually, I believe that data-driven experiences will be the norm.

At Acquia, we started investing in contextualization and personalization in 2014, through the release of a product called Acquia Lift. Adoption of Acquia Lift has grown year over year, and we expect it to increase for years to come. Contextualization and personalization will become more pervasive, especially as different systems of engagements, big data, the internet of things (IoT) and machine learning mature, combine, and begin to have profound impacts on what the definition of a great user experience should be. It might take a few more years before trends like personalization and contextualization are fully adopted by the early majority, but we are patient investors and product builders. Systems like Acquia Lift will be of critical importance and premiums will be placed on orchestrating the optimal customer journey.

Conclusion

The history of the web dictates that lower-friction solutions will surpass what came before them because they eliminate inefficiencies from the customer experience. Friduction is a long-term trend. Websites, the internet of things, augmented and virtual reality, conversational UIs — all of these technologies will continue to grow because they will enable us to build lower-friction digital experiences.

Categories: Drupal Universe

4 Steps for Building a Content Marketing Machine

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-05-17 15:37

Personalizing the Customer Journey

Ask any marketer: Creating great content takes work.

Marketers today are feeling the pressure to create and distribute a variety of content assets to drive awareness, demonstrate expertise and fuel conversations with their target audiences.

All marketers can agree that creating quality content takes time and plenty of resources -- from the point of initial ideation all the way through to content development and syndication. Content production operates as an ongoing machine in the marketer’s world; and oftentimes, there never seems to be enough of it. Marketers are developing multiple content assets across many brands, regions, and audience segments with an end goal that this content will lead to consumer relationships, quality opportunities and ultimately, conversions.

In the digital age of 1:1 marketing, you can’t have content marketing success without personalization. Further, you can’t personalize content without understanding your buyers. Gaining insights on customers through profile data helps marketers determine who their target personas are and how they should segment their audiences moving forward. Without the right visitor and customer data profiles, content marketing processes, and personalization tool, it’s impossible to deliver personalized content experiences across platforms and your well-oiled content marketing machine will go dry fast.

Personalizing the Customer Journey: 4 Steps for Building a Content Machine

Content drives many facets of marketing from the story to the digital experience to related campaigns, and it all has to be personalized for your customer. It’s clear that content has evolved to become a key component in the marketing stack, and that’s not going away -- not anytime soon at least.

To ensure your content machine stays well-oiled, here are four key steps for content planning in the era of personalization.

  1. Plan: Targeting audiences with messaging isn’t enough anymore; marketers need to adaptively segment and target consumers based on their online behaviors to engage them. In addition to targeting various audience segments, marketers recognize that their content engine must scale to support tailoring content to audiences globally. For starters, it’s important to make sure that your broad content marketing team has a central view of content at all times. You’ll need a content calendar to see when content is being produced and when. You’ll also need a way to search and discover content that’s already available so you can begin planning content and campaigns for each persona.
  2. Produce: Oftentimes, marketers are working on different pieces of the content engine in disperse locations, operating with low communication or visibility into status updates. For instance, a content editor could be reviewing content or working on translations remotely, while a digital marketer is creating landing pages at headquarters. Or, each of these individuals could be waiting on content approvals or asset deliverables before getting started - all of this slows down the content machine. Creating the right workflow process takes work, but it’s important to establish a repeatable process to save time in the long-run and ensure your content marketing stays consistent. Your web content management tool should be able to automate some workflow processes for you. Setting a content calendar, assigning turnaround times for each contributor, and documenting the production process (including set distribution channels like email or social media) will help speed up your content marketing machine too.
  3. Distribute: Content distribution is a key part of content marketing. Why spend all of this time creating content if it won’t get used or seen? Content marketers much share and syndicate content across multiple channels ranging from website landing pages to email campaigns to blogs. This can get time consuming quickly if you don’t have a centralized content distribution tool in place to share content throughout these channels and across your team for localized marketing efforts. A tool can make repurposing and making updates to content a little easier across various sites, digital applications and technologies. A content distribution and personalization service (like Acquia Lift) enables teams to easily publish, reuse, and syndicate personalized content along the customer journey, including a variety of content sources and publishing channels.
  4. Measure: You’ll never know if you’re content marketing strategy is successful without measuring your performance. To ensure you can deliver the right personalized content at the right time, you need a unified view of customer profile and behavioral data. Your personalization solution should be able to merge anonymous and known data across websites, sessions or devices as new users are identified. It’s important to track your website visitors’ behavior so you can see what content is most engaging. This will enable you to optimize content strategies based on actual data so you can build future content experiences that are even more tailored to your audience's’ interests.

It’s never too early to start collecting profile data even if your personalization and content strategy is still in the planning phase. The sooner you start with data collection, the easier it will be to execute personalized content and experiences when the time comes.

When selecting a personalization tool, look for an offering that has data profiling, open APIs capable of integration and ease of use for building multiple experiences. You’ll want your solution to be able to connect with your other marketing technology such as your marketing automation platform, email marketing tool or CRM so you can get a central view of customer data in order to deliver a contextual experiences to your audiences.

In planning for content marketing, remember, content must grab your audience's’ attention, engage them, and resonate throughout the customer journey. You’re one step closer to delivering a great customer experience for all of your audiences when you start personalizing your content based on audience behaviors and interests, and optimizing content planning, production, distribution and analysis processes to get your content machine working in overdrive.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Think beyond with Acquia Labs

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-05-15 18:18

For most of the history of the web, the website has been the primary means of consuming content. These days, however, with the introduction of new channels each day, the website is increasingly the bare minimum. Digital experiences can mean anything from connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smartphones, chatbots, augmented and virtual reality headsets, and even so-called zero user interfaces which lack the traditional interaction patterns we're used to. More and more, brands are trying to reach customers through browserless experiences and push-, not pull-based, content — often by not accessing the website at all.

Last year, we launched a new initiative called Acquia Labs, our research and innovation lab, part of the Office of the CTO. Acquia Labs aims to link together the new realities in our market, our customers' needs in coming years, and the goals of Acquia's products and open-source efforts in the long term. In this blog post, I'll update you on what we're working on at the moment, what motivates our lab, and how to work with us.

Alexa, ask GeorgiaGov

One of the Acquia Labs' most exciting projects is our ongoing collaboration with GeorgiaGov Interactive. Through an Amazon Echo integration with the Georgia.gov Drupal website, citizens can ask their government questions. Georgia residents will be able to find out how to apply for a fishing license, transfer an out-of-state driver's license, and register to vote just by consulting Alexa, which will also respond with sample follow-up questions to help the user move forward. It's a good example of how conversational interfaces can change civic engagement. Our belief is that conversational content and commerce will come to define many of the interactions we have with brands.

The state of Georgia has always been on the forefront of web accessibility. For example, from 2002 until 2006, Georgia piloted a time-limited text-to-speech telephony service which would allow website information and popular services like driver's license renewal to be offered to citizens. Today, it publishes accessibility standards and works hard to make all of its websites accessible for users of assistive devices. This Alexa integration for Georgia will continue that legacy by making important information about working with state government easy for anyone to access.

And as a testament to the benefits of innovation in open source and our commitment to open-source software, Acquia Labs backported the Drupal 8 module for Amazon Echo to Drupal 7.

Here's a demo video showing an initial prototype of the Alexa integration:

Shopping with chatbots

In addition to physical devices like the Amazon Echo, Acquia Labs has also been thinking about what is ahead for chatbots, another important component of the conversational web. Unlike in-home devices, chatbots are versatile because they can be used across multiple channels, whether on a native mobile application or a desktop website.

The Acquia Labs team built a chatbot demonstrating an integration with the inventory system and recipe collection available on the Drupal website of an imaginary grocery store. In this example, a shopper can interact with a branded chatbot named "Freshbot" to accomplish two common tasks when planning an upcoming barbecue.

First, the user can use the chatbot to choose the best recipes from a list of recommendations with consideration for number of attendees, dietary restrictions, and other criteria. Second, the chatbot can present a shopping list with correct quantities of the ingredients she'll need for the barbecue. The ability to interact with a chatbot assistant rather than having to research and plan everything on your own can make hosting a barbecue a much easier and more efficient experience.

Check out our demo video, "Shopping with chatbots", below:

Collaborating with our customers

Many innovation labs are able to work without outside influence or revenue targets by relying on funding from within the organization. But this can potentially create too much distance between the innovation lab and the needs of the organization's customers. Instead, Acquia Labs explores new ideas by working on jointly funded projects for our clients.

I think this model for innovation is a good approach for the next generation of labs. This vision allows us to help our customers stake ground in new territory while also moving our own internal progress forward. For more about our approach, check out this video from a panel discussion with our Acquia Labs lead Preston So, who introduced some of these ideas at SXSW 2017.

If you're looking at possibilities beyond what our current offerings are capable of today, if you're seeking guidance and help to execute on your own innovation priorities, or if you have a potential project that interests you but is too forward-looking right now, Acquia Labs can help.

Special thanks to Preston So for contributions to this blog post and to Nikhil Deshpande (GeorgiaGov Interactive) and ASH Heath for feedback during the writing process.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Alexa, ask GeorgiaGov

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-05-15 16:41

Acquia Labs’ conversational collaboration with GeorgiaGov Interactive makes life easier for all Georgians

Sometimes, the information originating from our local government — whether we need it simply to be better-engaged citizens, to move to a new state, or to renew an expired license — can be difficult to find, even with the most impeccable information architecture in place online. We can spend precious minutes scrolling through websites or on hold with a government hotline only to find that the information we need isn’t within an agency’s purview.

The advent of conversational interfaces like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon Echo has unleashed a torrent of innovation in the area of removing hindrances from our lives when it comes to making credit card payments, hailing a taxi, or playing our favorite music. But what if they could winnow away some of the time we spend on interacting with our government? And what if you could talk to a government representative from the comfort of your own home?

Acquia Labs is thrilled to announce a pilot project exploring conversational interfaces with GeorgiaGov Interactive, the digital services arm of the Georgia Technology Authority that serves Georgia state agencies. Over the course of this three-month project, we’ll be building an Alexa skill that anyone with an Amazon Echo device can take advantage of, whether it’s to know everything about food stamps in Georgia or to perform simple inquiries like transferring an out-of-state license, acquiring an early election ballot, or registering for a fishing license. In short, get ready to “Alexa, ask GeorgiaGov” your questions!

You can view a video of the prototype Alexa integration below:

Alexa, ask GeorgiaGov

Getting information to citizens faster

One of the leading motivations for this project is the prospect of being able to get citizens their information much more quickly than they could otherwise. Georgia.gov has a carefully conceived information architecture and user experience, but the sheer amount of information can often be overwhelming for anyone unaccustomed to the information architecture.

An Alexa skill operates under the same limitations. While you can certainly build a skill where all possible answers to questions will be available at the user’s fingertips (or at the tip of their tongue), how does an Amazon Echo user know exactly what to “ask GeorgiaGov” when they may not even be sure what it is that they’re asking about?

We decided to take a middle-of-the-road approach where both Georgians familiar with the site’s information architecture and those coming to the conversational interface without much understanding of the website can feel equally at ease using the skill. As such, the Alexa skill will make it easy for any user to provide a topic in their area of interest, and “GeorgiaGov” will respond with sample questions from that section of the website. At the same time, a user who knows what their query is with greater specificity can question Alexa directly and receive only the corresponding response.

Moreover, we’re powering the Alexa skill using site search on Georgia.gov rather than coupling it tightly to the site’s information architecture and editorial interface. By keeping the Alexa skill agnostic to a site’s information architecture, we can help to cater our conversational interface to other governments’ and even other organizations’ needs. We can also appropriately generalize this approach to all requirements: acquiring content, exposing it for consumption, and interpreting user-generated responses for a variety of needs at scale whether at the local or national level.

Widening access to information

There’s another significant reason to use conversational interfaces like Amazon Echo to interact much more with government. Georgia.gov has been a pioneer of web accessibility for many years. In 2002, Georgia piloted a time limited text-to-speech telephony service which would allow for website information and popular services like driver’s license renewal to be offered to citizens. In addition, Georgia.gov welcomes users of assistive devices, for instance by encouraging others to implement straightforward accessibility solutions and publishing clear and comprehensive accessibility guidelines.

“We have long placed a very deliberate emphasis on connecting Georgians with the government information and services in the way that works best for them,” says GTA’s Nikhil Deshpande director of GeorgiaGov Interactive. “Thanks to a pursuit that began with creating a consistent user experience across state agency websites more than a decade ago, then leading the way in embracing responsive design and accessibility, we’re well-positioned for this next frontier of digital ecosystems. Making our content available via new channels like Alexa is an important next step for us.”

Amazon Echo skills appear to derive a great deal of inspiration from historical text-to-speech renderings. Not only do they allow for users to utilize a conversational device from the comfort of their own home; they also enable users to consume content more granularly than a text-to-speech rendering would otherwise permit. This means that we can get the right information to users faster, in a highly individualized and eminently accessible fashion.

Upholding the spirit of open source innovation

We at Acquia Labs believe strongly in the capacity for open source innovation to further the world around us in unexpected ways. After all, when businesses share their code and transition from a focus on proprietary foundations to a reliance on open source software, the resulting benefits gained by everyone act as a tide to lift all boats and as an accelerating force for progress. We contend that innovation labs shouldn’t be an exception to this philosophy, despite their reputation as subterranean caverns of top-secret projects.

Because the Georgia.gov website is built in Drupal 7, we’re enriching the Drupal community by sponsoring a Drupal 7 backport — thanks to the indefatigable Chris Hamper — of the Alexa module written by Jakub Suchy. We want anyone to be able to take advantage of the wins we’ve achieved. Just as the Acquia ecosystem is committed to the open source ethos, we also believe that innovation labs have a responsibility to share their findings with the wider world.

Conclusion

Our new partnership between Acquia Labs and GeorgiaGov Interactive heralds an exciting new paradigm in a conversational web that has until now been largely focused on business and consumer applications. We can help our government run more efficiently by delivering crucial information more quickly. At the same time, we can also help citizens, including users of assistive technologies, access and engage with that information. In doing so, we can stretch both civic engagement and digital experiences farther than they have ever gone before.

How can Acquia Labs help your organization achieve its innovation priorities and think beyond? To learn more about working with Labs, contact our sales team and mention Acquia Labs during your conversation. Together, we’ll build exciting digital ecosystems that challenge old paradigms — just like our innovation partnership with the state of Georgia — and map out the new digital universe.

Categories: Drupal Universe

At Acquia, Evolution Means Commitment, Innovation and Service

Acquia Blogs - Fri, 2017-05-12 16:14

Evolution happens slowly, at least relatively speaking. For humans, it happens over millennia; luckily, cloud evolution is a little faster. It happens so fast that in a lot of cases, if you lose touch of what is going on with a particular company or technology, you may have missed out on a lot.

Whether you’re looking into Acquia for the first time, a prospect doing your due diligence or a valued partner, or longtime customer, it’s time we caught up.

On May 9, 2017, we announced that Aquia was honored by the American Business Awards. Acquia global support earned a gold Stevie Award in the 15th annual competition. Acquia also received a bronze Company of the Year Stevie Award in the American Business Awards’ computer software-large company category. We were thrilled with the recognition of our amazing team, but also for the platform that allows them to meet customer expectations every day.

We earned this recognition even as Acquia has continued to grow. We’re not the same company we were in 2014. That’s why Gartner and Forrester named us a market leader for web content management and digital experience platforms. Feedback from both our customers and our competitors helps validate that we are right where we need to be as a technology provider. We're not a small fish anymore and that's OK. That's part of the reason why our customers trust us. When we do our own due diligence on a vendor, we look for someone who has been in the game long enough to know what’s what but not so long that they are set in their ways or their technology is becoming obsolete. On the other hand, we don’t want some so new, that we’re not sure of their future as a company. We need to live up to our own standards. Acquia’s steady growth has allowed us to become well-established in our industry but continue to innovate. It has made us a valuable asset to our customers and a worthy adversary to our competitors.

Continued Commitment to Drupal

Regardless of how far we come as company, Acquia remains true to its roots. Drupal 8 celebrated its first birthday in November and we are proud of our contributions to Core. Acquia is the leading contributing organization to the Drupal project and put in 1,500+ points last year. We remain fully committed to Drupal’s development, not just our own growth as a company.

We’ve also focused on building and improving Drupal distributions. Our own distribution, Lightning, is a Drupal 8 starter kit and framework helps developers tap into key functionality and build sites and experiences faster.

Acquia also supports the Drupal community's efforts to ensure that Drupal is API-first, not API-only. This fall, Acquia Labs was launched to help develop new user experiences that move beyond the page. This includes supporting decoupled architectures, and emerging distribution platforms, such as chat bots and conversational interfaces.

Innovate, Iterate, Repeat

On the product side, Acquia continues to provide customers with a true Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering; not just hosting. While we have well-built, fully integrated tools like Acquia Lift to provide you with a one-stop-shop, we’re also believers in flexibility. Open APIs and SDKs allow you to connect your choice of best-of-breed software, whether it’s SSL certification, commerce, personalization, analytics etc. We give you options rather than force you to pay for features you don’t need. If you choose to do business with us, we do everything we can to make sure we maximize our value, not just at launch, but continuously over the course of the engagement.

Let’s start with our cloud. While the Acquia Cloud remains specifically tuned for Drupal, our open source LAMP server stack combines the Linux (Ubuntu) operating system and PHP programming language with Drupal. And after a detailed analysis of stack performance characteristics, configurations have been identified at every layer to deliver Drupal sites faster and with improved reliability.

Security and compliance has continued to remain a top priority. Every customer, regardless of “deal size” receives continuous monitoring and DDOS response out-of-the-box with DDOS mitigation available as an add on.

At a platform level, we meet an “alphabet soup” of compliance standards, including:

  • SOC 1
  • SOC 2
  • PCI-DSS
  • HIPAA
  • FERPA
  • EU Data Protection
  • ISO 27001
  • FedRAMP

Speaking of FedRAMP, in March, Acquia received its third FedRAMP ATO from U.S. DOT.

On top of Acquia Cloud, Acquia provides customers with several options to manage multiple sites. First, we support Drupal multisite in our cloud offerings. For managing sites at scale that require consistency, governance, and speed-of-delivery, we offer Acquia Cloud Site Factory. Last fall, we made improvements to Acquia Cloud Site Factory with the addition of stacks, essentially allowing our customer to run multiple site factories and even other Acquia Cloud sites all managed from a single console. In either case, our cloud has been put to the test by customers that run thousands of sites across both our enterprise and Site Factory offerings.

But that’s status quo. What’s new with Acquia Cloud? A few months ago, Acquia launched a new UI for Acquia Cloud; one that is much more modern, faster, and responsive. The new UI simplifies interaction for developers and administrators and delivers an architecture for future enhancements of the platform, following an API-first development approach.

Most recently, we’ve shifted focus to provide a better experience for developers on Acquia Cloud. After all, they are the ones often behind-the-scenes, building these state-of-the-art Drupal experiences for our customers. We’ve launched Acquia Cloud CD, a complete continuous delivery/DevOps service to manage production-like environments across many different applications.

Customer Success and Award-Winning Support

Regardless of industry, customer service can make or break a company. Acquia boasts award-winning support that offers true follow-the-sun coverage. Every Acquia subscription comes with entitlements to our global support team of more than 70 professionals, plus access to a family of professional services tailored to meet an organization’s specific needs. Every customer receives formal onboarding, has a support escalation process, and has access to self-service training courses, certification programs, and an online knowledge base.

With support online and over the phone for all of your needs - even troubleshooting your Drupal code. Our global SLA is 99.5 percent and includes both your infrastructure and CMS (Drupal).

By the numbers:

  • Ž24x7 emergency support
  • 4 continents Ž
  • 70+ professionals Ž
  • 250+ years of combined Drupal experience Ž
  • 50,000+ customer requests completed each year Ž
  • 3,000+ advisory support hours completed each year Ž
  • 94+% customer satisfaction rating

But we’re not just there for you when things go wrong. Customer success continues to drive and inspire us. If customer success not the center of your business, you won’t be in business long. Leading the charge is our Professional Services team, which is there to help you push the envelope and give you the tools and training to do so. This includes things like migration.

When it comes to migration, every project is a little different. Acquia delivers successful migrations based on the customer’s scope. There is probably a reason you are looking to change your digital experience platform; and not all of the aspects of your digital experience will need to migrate. Wouldn’t you rather scope a custom project than risk a substandard migration? A one-size-fits-all migration just ends up moving boxes from attic-to-attic. Our position is based on the successful completion of customer migrations over the past 10 years.

But what good is a one-way conversation? Now that you know what we’ve been up to, tell us what you have been working on. What is important to you / your customers? What else do you want to know about Acquia in relation to your business? Let’s not go this long without speaking again.

As Yoda once said “Difficult to see. Always in motion, is the future.” At Acquia, we’re not afraid; we are ready to take on any technology challenge (or challenger) the future might hold.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Digital Transformation for Public Sector: Galvanize to Revolutionize

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-05-10 21:00

I was delighted to be invited by our Asia Pacific team out of Australia to share my experiences leading digital transformation in the Obama Administration prior to joining Acquia.

I was exposed to some incredible energy during a packed schedule in Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne. I met a good few hundred people working at all levels of the public sector in Australia, including federal, state, and local government departments at a number of events, roundtables, and meetings.

The idea was to help those in the public sector hear how we navigated the considerable bureaucracy of a country with over 300 million citizens, to achieve digital transformation, when traditional change can be hard enough, let alone if it’s driven by digital technology.

Here is the thing that people often do not realize about people who work in the public sector: we work in the sector because we love it, and want to drive change for the better.

Speaking to the teams here driving the govCMS project (the standardization of the Australian Government on Drupal, working with Acquia and our partners), I had the overwhelming sense that they love what they do in public service, therefore been incredibly successful at it.

I would like to point out here - the govCMS project is gathering significant, and all in the absence of a mandate. It is important to note that it is not mandated that any Australian Government Department or Agency must use the govCMS platform. In fact, the team driving the project at the Department of Finance has declined two attempts at mandating it because they want people to want to use it, not to have to use it. And in two years, it has 124 sites live, 21 in development and 54 agencies using it (at time of writing this).

We ran some events and asked Sharyn Clarkson, Assistant Secretary at Department of Finance, and Dawn Routledge, Executive Director Policy & Innovation at Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, to share their experiences of digital transformation in relation specifically to the govCMS project.

The most common questions during my time were ‘how can we innovate more, and better?’, and how can we innovate in the face of obstacles such as bureaucracy, rules and regulation?

I wanted to share my thoughts, and the considerable lessons Sharyn and Dawn shared with the group given they have incredibly current and relevant experience:

  • Innovation requires risk and failure: The only way to make government better is to innovate, and innovation comes from risk - you must be prepared to fail, learn and iterate. Quickly. Failure is a sign you’re trying to do things better. In government, risk is considered toxic and there’s a real aversion to risk. Actually, risk should be managed not avoided - there are obviously things that should not fail e.g. security, platform stability, you should be able to pay taxes, planes should not fall out of the sky. Know the places to be innovative.
  • Focus on a minimum viable team: My own personal favorite is to have as few people in the room / at the table as possible. The likelihood of the success of a project was inversely proportional to the number of people working on it. We heard about one leader’s drive for ‘minimum viable bureaucracy’ which resonated with the audience.
  • Focus on a minimum viable product: Emulate a minimum viable product (MVP) approach like the private sector would. Make sure everything is agile and iterative - and how to work out how to procure via sprint time, without named outcome, otherwise you have bid, build, rebuild and potentially waste millions of dollars.
  • Communicate and collaborate: It’s really important to share your vision, plans and failures - no one owns the problem, each department plays a role - so how you connect and collaborate is really important.
  • Address culture problems: Few of the problems are tech problems, they are usually people and culture problems.
  • Let technology enable: Technology is, and should remain, politically agnostic to enable business strategies.
  • Take action: Just get started - action what is in your control. Make the best thing to do the easiest thing to do. Run until you’re tackled.
  • Provide guidance: Governance is about guidance and support not control. There should be enough governance to make sure people don’t stray too far off the field.
  • Empower decision makers: Get your team to make the decisions, this imbues then with confidence and ownership
  • Experiment and try things: Test your assumptions, and then gently poke the beast.

It is really worth remembering that transformation is a journey that does not really have a destination. And, that every time someone adopts your platform, you get added functionality from what they contribute to the community. That is invaluable, and that is transformation.

Categories: Drupal Universe

One Continuous Cloud to Deliver Them All

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-05-10 20:30

DevOps just got easier. Development and DevOps teams have a variety of tools at their disposal for building, testing and deploying digital experiences and applications for their customers. Some teams have deployed tools to help with continuous delivery workflow and automation, while others are just getting started. Teams extending these capabilities to digital experiences may require options to use integrated tools or to extend existing workflows to their digital experience development process. Bottom line is automating the end-to-end process can get complex and become a major task in itself.

Just a few weeks ago, Acquia announced the launch of Acquia Cloud CD, a continuous delivery service that integrates pipelines to automate build test processes and self-service, ‘production-like’ environments. Now, developers and DevOps teams can build, test and launch new, high-quality digital experiences faster and with greater quality using tools fully integrated with Acquia Cloud.

With Acquia Cloud CD’s release, we enabled users to integrate existing pipeline tools through the Acquia Cloud CD API. Now developers and DevOps teams can implement other pipeline tools to integrate their existing workflows and processes within Acquia Cloud CD. DevOps teams can enable self-service continuous environments for increased speed of collaboration, governance, security and quality of delivery -- faster and easier than ever before.

Acquia delivers flexibility for customers with our native pipelines capability to orchestrate development and testing, and use existing tools like Jenkins or Travis CI. Continuous delivery processes provides teams with a pipeline workflow to automate rigorous processes, ensuring faster development and quality code for every release. Customers can choose to benefit from the ability to automate their code building, testing and deployment processes all from one platform; allowing developers to manage fewer tools, streamline processes, and save valuable build time easier and faster than ever before.

And so it begins…

See for yourself:

You can also check out our website to learn more about Acquia Cloud and Acquia Cloud CD.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Sharing Acquia’s Best Practices: A Delivery Toolkit for Partners

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-05-10 04:00

partner powered
Partners make the Acquia world go round; they work closely with us as project leads, subcontractors, and collaborators, and support Acquia tools and services with their real-world application-building, feedback, and contributions. We know we can always do more to support and foster expertise within our partner network.

The Partner Delivery Enablement Services team at Acquia is here to empower our partners to position and build compelling digital experiences using Drupal and Acquia products, and to ensure customer success and satisfaction. So, it is with great pleasure that we announce the Beta release of our Delivery Toolkit to the Partner Portal*.

The purpose of this toolkit is to provide partners with the tools to establish and maintain centers of excellence in Drupal, and to support the successful implementation of applications in Drupal 8, using Acquia products, and Acquia automation tools such as BLT and Lightning. The Delivery Toolkit Primer provides partners living documents that will evolve based on our shared experiences, changing products, and feedback from our colleagues and partners. Using this set of tools will enable your team to more easily plan and estimate Drupal solutions, use industry best practices when devising the solutions, and support standardization across projects.

What’s in the Toolkit? Partner Enablement Program Development Tools

These tools will support Acquia partners who are establishing a staff of certified Drupal developers to move toward an established center for excellence in Drupal and Acquia products. Review these to learn more about how to engage with Acquia, and how to create a Team Enablement Plan. Use the tools and templates provided to create your own plan. Leverage the tools provided to onboard developers to the program and to track individual team member progress and goal attainment. Here is a brief overview of the resources available in the Delivery Toolkit:

Working with Acquia
Acquia interacts with our partners during all phases of digital projects. The “Working with Acquia” document is used to identify all the groups you will likely interact with to have a successful partnership, and describe what they do for you during the partnership’s activities. It won’t provide the names of specific people, as this varies from region to region, but it will give you roles and instruction on how to find your desired contacts.

[PARTNER] Enablement Plan
Our partner enablement teams have developed a plan that we use to coordinate teams working on training strategies. It includes selection of a learning path, a set of training guides based on those paths and a listing of certification preparation materials. This reference helps you to coordinate all the tools we have made available to you into one coherent approach.

Delivery Enablement Developer Onboarding Deck
Created to assist program managers explain program details to development team members, this presentation includes details about the program and its resources, as well as the introductory courses and materials they will use to prepare for their certification exams.

Partner Profile and Personnel Tracking Template
Designed to assist you in planning and tracking progress toward developer certification, this worksheet includes space for team member details, project experience (including which team members worked on which projects), and areas of technical expertise.

Drupal and Acquia Product Certification Tools

You can also take your team from beginner to Grand Master by following the given paths toward certification. Included is a guide to selecting and planning certification goals, and the Study Guides that will help team members prepare for the certification exams they want to pursue.

Learning Paths and Resources for Drupal 8 and Acquia Product Certification
This documentation is an inventory of the critical courses you need to transform your development skills. It includes the paths to Drupal 8 Developer certifications and Acquia Product Pro certifications, study guides including suggested Acquia Academy courses and other resources, such as staff scheduling guidelines for achieving expertise and certification, exam details, and registration instructions.

Certification Preparation Materials
Acquia has compiled a set of study guides and other materials to help your teams prepare for certification and specialization. This reference puts all those tools in one place to make it simpler to find and share.

Delivery Enablement Tools

Tools intended to support the process of Drupal/Acquia product discovery and planning, these documents include tools to help you plan and estimate your architecture, a task breakdown related to Drupal 8 and Acquia product implementation, design and accessibility considerations, and our best practices for project preparation.

Reference Work Plan
The reference work plan provides a reference task list, including critical check points and tasks to create digital experiences using Acquia products using Drupal best practices. It’s extremely useful for planning and estimating work on products you may not yet have mastered such as Site Factory, Content Hub, and Lift.

Reference Architecture
The reference architecture document supplements our tools and is used to assess the requirements of the Drupal portion of a project, and review the key technologies, solutions, and Acquia products that will compose a flexible architecture capable of meeting immediate and future demands. Recommended training and key resources are listed inline with each section including code snippets where appropriate.

Design Considerations in Drupal
This document is meant to provide both Creative and Implementation teams with a series of design considerations that should be taken into account when developing a Drupal/Acquia solution. These considerations are being presented as ways to ensure Customers receive creative assets that, when taken into account, implicitly accelerate the development cycle.

Accessibility Considerations in Drupal
The purpose of this document paper is to provide an accessibility outline that can be used to guide best practices and implementation typical of a CMS like Drupal, to ensure successful delivery. Accessibility is a highlighted in the public sector to ensure contract compliance

Project Preparation
This document details our top ten tips for project preparation to avoid major breakdowns. These include tasks ranging from usability testing to determining target audiences and considering navigation. Following these tips will help you avoid common challenges.

We hope you will review these tools and incorporate them into your project process where it is appropriate and useful. We also hope you share your feedback about your actual use of these tools and where they serve you well (or do not). We are open to requests for additional tools and templates that would assist you in delivering your projects. We plan to include updates based on feedback, as well as new tools and templates, with each quarterly update of the Delivery Toolkit.

* You will need your acquia.com log-in credentials to access the materials in the Partner Portal.

Categories: Drupal Universe

5 out of 5: Partnership is Paramount [VIDEO]

Acquia Blogs - Tue, 2017-05-09 21:45

This is part one of a five part series for Sitecore’s partners to take another look at success with Acquia and Drupal.

definition of partnership

Partnership is essential for any business to succeed and this is especially true when it comes to the tech industry. Acquia would not be the digital experience company it is today without our partners.

Beyond the winning combination of technology and talent, what makes for a great partnership between digital agencies and Acquia? In short, it’s our commitment to our partners. Acquia is investing in the channel; we believe in playing the long game. We are investing in partners not just through larger initiatives like the continued expansion of our team but every day through sales enablement, product training, delivery enablement, and technical support. We are willing to do what it takes to ensure customer success for everyone.

It sounds like a practical approach, a simple solution to partner success but in reality, many of our competitors are doing the opposite. Other vendors have been reducing investments from either acquisition or pressure from investors. Let’s take a look at one such company, fellow WCM vendor Sitecore.

After a heavy investment from a private equity firm, there has been major cutbacks in the partner organization, high turnover of leadership, and decline in innovation of a once healthy partner ecosystem. As a company, Sitecore has changed.

In contrast, Acquia continues to expand its partner program and focus on building long-lasting relationships rather than purely our own efficiency and profitability. Everything we do in relation to our partners is built upon the following three principles: trust, integrity and communication.

In the video below, watch Joe Wykes, SVP of Global Channels and Commerce, discuss what makes partnering with Acquia a win-win:

If you’re thinking about partnering with Acquia, good, because we’re open for business and investing in the growth of our partners today.

Categories: Drupal Universe

How Acquia Improved Its Monitoring Services with SignalFX

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-05-08 18:47

As companies grow, things like visibility into your cloud infrastructure, monitoring the uptime of your services, and collecting and analyzing data from a wide variety of applications all become critical to the success of the organization and its customers. An unfortunate and often unavoidable side effect of this growth, however, is that it can often put stress on existing systems, precipitating the need for updated technologies, which can grow and scale over time.

At Acquia, years of existing customer growth and new customer acquisitions required us to increase the size of our fleet on an almost hourly basis. From a business perspective this was phenomenal -- an expected side effect of a thriving business -- but from an operational perspective, it was an early indication that we would inevitably reach a size when our original open-source monitoring service would no longer scale to meet our needs.

With so many servers, services, and applications to monitor, we first started down the path of trying to build our own monitoring services four years ago. While that project was in flight, we also carved out time and resources to build “temporary” solutions to help us filter and handle the growing number of alerts generated by our existing monitoring systems. What we discovered in the years that followed was, to put it simply, it was exceptionally difficult to dedicate the necessary time, resources, and expertise to such an initiative when there are so many other needs and problems to address across our engineering organization. As a result, we eventually had to stop and ask ourselves, “Is this something we should even be doing?”

By the time we asked ourselves that question, we were no different than many other companies our size: we had more than a dozen different systems across various teams for monitoring and analysis; there was no central management or controls for those systems, leading to inconsistent metrics and interpretations of data across products; and new teams repeatedly found themselves spending weeks on the evaluation, implementation, customization, and maintenance of new monitoring services, all while our primary products and teams continued to use our imperfect legacy solution.

The resulting pain was felt at all levels of Acquia, with teams across the organization and around the world experiencing toil and blockers due to monitoring service limitations and the bandwidth constraints they caused for our engineers. They simply could not find or interpret the data they needed with consistency, efficiency, or ease, and at the same time, we could not even provide our customers with all of the essential server health metrics they needed to optimize the uptime and performance of their applications.

In short -- we needed a new solution.

Choosing the Right Monitoring Service

We didn’t just need a new monitoring service -- we needed one that could handle all of our complex use cases as quickly as possible and on a tight budget. With those things in mind, we identified three possible paths we could take:

  1. Build a new monitoring service from scratch, in house;
  2. Take an existing open source solution and customize it to suit our own needs; or,
  3. Go the SaaS route and find a company/product that excels in this arena, allowing us to focus on what we do best while they focus on doing what they do best.

All three options had positive and negative attributes. Although Option 1 would allow us to address all of our needs precisely the way we wanted to, we estimated that it would take the most time and money to accomplish, and we would need to permanently dedicate engineering resources to maintaining and improving whatever we ended up building. Option 2 would require less effort than Option 1, but it would still require us to maintain the services and be responsible for upgrading them over time. Option 3, however, represented a current industry trend, where more and more companies are moving away from custom-built, in-house services in favor of plug-and-play solutions.

Option 3 seemed to make the most sense for us. A SaaS offering would provide us with a readily-available service with 24/7 support, a guarantee of new features and innovations on a regular cadence, and the ability to customize the service to suit our needs.

Making that decision was the easy part -- figuring out which SaaS monitoring service to entrust with a fleet as large as Acquia’s was a great deal more difficult. When it came to choosing a SaaS monitoring service, we did not want to limit our focus to the technical features and capabilities of an offering -- we also wanted to look at the company behind the services. Everyone claims they can solve your problems, but how do you know who truly is the best fit for your organization?

So when evaluating SaaS companies, we considered the following questions:

  • How would we implement this solution, from install and initial customization through to feature configuration?
  • How much work would it be to maintain the service long-term?
  • What limitations does the service have, and are they deal breakers?
  • What is the vendor’s support plan and SLA?
  • Are they a startup or an established company?
  • What are other people saying about them? Are they often recommended?
  • What is the cost?

In our evaluation of more than a dozen possible solutions, we narrowed our options down to three companies with the features, reputations, and price ranges we were looking for. From there, we needed to look at what set each company apart from the others. With more than 15,000 instances in our fleet, our primary concern was that none of these services would be able to ingest the volume of data (millions of data points per minute) we would be sending. Needless to say, when two of the three vendors were willing to let us test their services on our entire fleet for free, that showed us how confident they were in their services.

At this point, we also began seeking out reviews from the current customers of each vendor. This led to one surprising find we were not expecting -- that the more established and popular service was actually very poorly recommended by the existing customers we spoke with. In their reviews, these customers cited concerns about the product’s performance issues at scale, as well as the company’s lack of responsiveness to feature requests and bug fixes.

One final concern we had was the age of the companies we were working with. On the one hand, we could entrust our fleet and years of investment in a company that was considered an industry leader in the monitoring space. One the other hand, we could invest in a company with a beautiful, innovative service but limited experience and only preliminary customer reviews. In between was a company with some experience, great reviews, and lots of room to grow. When we considered that the most established contender was not well reviewed by some existing customers, and then considered the fact that we would need to cope with the growing pains of the youngest company, the third company in the middle was considered the safest option from a liability perspective.

Keeping all of this information in mind, our final choice was SignalFX. With competitive pricing based on the number of metrics we send each minute, we could fine tune our usage and control our costs based on our evolving needs over time. Their functionality was also very close to what we needed out of the box, their customer reviews revealed genuine excitement about their services, and they assured us that we could provide routine feedback on new features and their roadmap to ensure our most critical needs were met.

SignalFX Results (So Far)

SignalFX is a SaaS monitoring service which ingests, renders, and analyzes large volumes of server and application data. It also has advanced alerting and notification functions, which can be triggered whenever thresholds you define are breached. With a variety of possible integration mechanisms available to us, Acquia has predominantly been using the SignalFX fork of an open source monitoring agent called collectd. This has allowed us to add, enable, and customize any plugins we need to keep a close eye on the specific services running on our fleet (MySQL, Nginx, Varnish, etc.).

Where we were previously monitoring a small sliver of essential server operations across our fleet, we are now able to send and analyze nearly 300 metrics with four-times more granularity that we had before. With the insights we’ve gained, we’ve been able to identify and remediate more than a dozen issues and inefficiencies in our fleets, allowing us to save more than $600,000 per year in hardware expenses. We’ve also been able to improve the overall quality of the services we provide, increasing our engineers’ visibility into the health of the fleet and specific customers, and consolidating the number of monitoring services our teams need to use.

What’s Next for Acquia and SignalFX

With the swift implementation of SignalFX across our fleets, our teams have been able to focus on optimization, not building and maintaining a monitoring system of our own. As we near the final stages of getting everything we need sent over to SignalFX and configured properly, we have already started looking ahead and planning out all of the new and exciting features we have been eager to build, including:

  • A new and improved StackView UI for our customers that will allow them to see essential server health metrics and any key events which might have affected server or application performance.
  • Incident auto-remediation mechanisms that will eliminate wasted manual effort by our internal teams when common issues are detected.
  • New automated diagnostic tools that will standardize and streamline our incident response process internally, reducing time-to-resolution when problems arise.
  • Predictive monitoring and alerting mechanisms so we can catch, investigate, and resolve anomalous trends in key server health metrics before the customer’s services are affected in any way.

At Acquia, we are immensely proud of our ability to provide customers with best-in-class monitoring and diagnostic services, giving them peace of mind while they focus on building and optimizing mission-critical applications. With SignalFX available across our fleet now, our products and services will only keep getting better.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Three Government Digital Projects Highlight Drupal-Enabled Innovation

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-05-04 17:33

Drupal never ceases to surprise and delight in the many ways digital innovators use it to build, manage and deliver ambitious digital experiences. Case in point: Government organizations , which often find themselves accused of being digital laggards, are innovating with Drupal to deliver powerful experiences to be more services and information oriented.

Over a span of a few hours recently, three unrelated projects -- each a great examples of Drupal-driven digital experiences in government -- surfaced in my Twitter timeline offering more evidence that yes, Drupal innovation is happening everywhere. Even in corners of the public sector you might not expect.

Obama Presidential Library / National Archives Site Establishes The Digital Record


We recently migrated https://t.co/sLfFd1M9J8 to Drupal and launched the new Obama Library site in Drupal too: https://t.co/L5q6k3772V #MW17 https://t.co/WUKjaSKRrL

— dana allen-greil (@danamuses) April 20, 2017

This site represents President Obama’s presidency, distilled into an easy to navigate and rich digital experience. Visually appealing and full of info, the National Archives site is powered by Drupal and serves as the digital record of Obama’s presidency. It’s a virtual library, with interactive timeline of Obama’s eight years in office, tons of video and photographic history, and links to more info for academic researchers and historians. The site is beautiful on mobile, too.

Obama Library

The Obama Presidential Library is being built in Chicago. This Drupal-driven site stands as the digital record of the history of the Obama Administration. The National Archives has also archived the content of WhiteHouse.gov (also a Drupal site) that was present on the last day of Obama’s presidency.

Obama Library 2 State of Georgia Interacts With Citizens Via Amazon Echo


Georgia is using #Alexa to reach more disabled residents @GeorgiaGovTeam #accessibility https://t.co/ath5X8eQ3J pic.twitter.com/kEG7TBD6T7

— StateScoop (@State_Scoop) April 24, 2017

Georgia.gov has been a Drupal user and Acquia client since 2012 and has become the destination site for its citizens to quickly gain access to state resources, information and services on any type of device. The State of Georgia previously migrated more than 55 websites to Drupal to create a compelling digital experience for its citizens that also resulted in projected cost savings of $4.7 million over a five period.

Now, Georgia is taking its omnichannel strategy further in 2017. GeorgiaGov Interactive (the state’s digital services unit) with help from Acquia Labs is bringing information and transactional services to the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo. A pilot program will enable citizens who have the Amazon device in their homes or offices to interact with dozens of government services via voice (“Alexa, how do I renew my driver’s license?”). Georgia already runs its sites using Drupal on Acquia Cloud; extending the content via Drupal’s APIs is an easy path to “the next” content delivery requirement. It will allow Georgia to reuse its content already in Drupal instead of creating separate versions and different silos of content. And achieve greater content accessibility for everyone in the state.

Georgiaive Read

Boston.gov Makes 840-Page Budget Proposal an Interactive Read


We turned 840 pages of PDFs into a website where you can learn about @marty_walsh's annual budget. Happy browsing! https://t.co/ZObFOnCxgn

— Lauren Lockwood (@lflockwood) April 20, 2017

In 2016, the City of Boston launched a new Boston.gov on Drupal and Acquia Cloud. Within 11 months we migrated more than 20,000 web pages and one million words to the new boston.gov, with the project being delivered on time and under budget. It’s hands-down one of the most people-centric, public sector sites you’ll find. The site is beautifully designed, informative and useful.

City of Boston

It’s no surprise then that the city’s digital team found an innovative way to present an 840-page PDF (Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s proposed $3.14B budget) as a thoughtful digital experience. The new budget.boston.gov is everything a PDF is not: it’s interactive; it’s easy to navigate; it’s useful to anyone who wants to dig into where their tax money is proposed to be spent. Additional pages like “How Does the Budget Work?” and “Glossary of Terms” make an otherwise dense (read: boring) document into something meaningful, more transparent, and more accessible to citizens and businesses in Boston.

City of Boston 2
Categories: Drupal Universe

What you’ll learn at Acquia's Developer Experience Roadshow

Acquia Blogs - Tue, 2017-05-02 14:07

Since its founding, Acquia has set a strong precedent for investing in developer experience. Developers are users and influencers of Acquia products, and need to be armed with state-of-the-art tools to build leading digital experiences with Drupal. From Acquia Dev Desktop to the Drupal 8 Module Acceleration Project, Acquia is committed to developing tools and resources that empower development teams. This month, Acquia’s own John Kennedy and Adam Balsam hit the road to showcase Acquia’s next generation of open source developer tools and extensions to Acquia Cloud.

At the Developer Experience Roadshow in Boston, Kennedy, who was the program lead for the D8 MAP project, pinpointed four reasons why it’s necessary for Acquia to continue to build new tools and products for developers:

  1. Drupal Development has changed: The transition from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 has significantly changed Drupal development. Drupal developers can take advantage of more tools and frameworks than ever before. For example, many Drupal developers are standardizing on workflows that leverage Symfony, Composer, DrupalVM and Docker. The increasing popularity of these tools means that Acquia needs to rethink its development experience for Drupal.
  2. Testing remains important: Testing has always been important, but today there are improved methodologies of automated testing that appeal to both developers and non-technical users. Solutions, such as Selenium and PhantomJS, enable users to run functional tests locally with visual feedback, and in the cloud within an continuous integration workflow. Capabilities like these support agile development and encourage teams to adopt best practices. The ability to easily build and execute tests within this new methodology is an important component of the new Acquia developer experience.
  3. Pull requests are standard: SaaS-based source code repositories like Github, which allow developers to visualize the code changes, are increasing in popularity. Pull requests are now a standard part of development workflows and allow developers to collaborate more easily. Acquia Cloud must integrate with services like Github to facilitate this process.
  4. Drupal distributions are back: Finally, as Dries noted in a recent blog post, distributions remain a growing opportunity for Drupal. Customers like NASDAQ and the YMCA are leveraging distributions to create new business models, which offer Drupal distributions “as-a-service” at scale. Another development is the emerging concept of “hierarchical distributions,” which allow you to build distributions on top of one another. For example, Kennedy said Acquia is collaborating with the team at ImageX to build an OpenEDU distribution on top of the Lightning distribution. Distributions will continue to grow in relevance for any organization, ranging from large enterprises to small businesses and digital agencies.

All of these factors have influenced the evolution of the developer experience that Acquia now offers. Today, Acquia provides a collection of tools that speed up development and delivery, without compromising quality. These include both open source products and extensions to Acquia Cloud:

  • Acquia BLT is an open source build, launch and test development tool. BLT provides a local development environment and standard template for Drupal based projects derived from Acquia's Professional Service’s best practices. Acquia BLT makes it easier to conduct development and automated testing on your local machine.
  • Acquia Pipelines automates functions like testing and deploying websites and other applications to Acquia Cloud. Pipelines is a continuous integration tool that is built for Acquia Cloud and requires very little configuration. Unlike other CI solutions, such as Jenkins or Travis CI, Acquia Pipelines will automate a composer-based CI test/build workflow that deploys to Acquia Cloud out of the box.
  • Acquia Cloud CD is a continuous delivery tool that allows you to launch on-demand environments on Acquia Cloud. Developer and DevOps teams can take advantage of integrated self-service provisioning of environments to integrate changes into digital experiences faster than ever.
  • Acquia Lightning is an open source starter kit and framework that lowers ongoing maintenance of your digital platform, and allows developers to build Drupal 8 sites and applications faster. The Lighting distribution (developed and maintained by Acquia) accelerates the process of building authoring experiences that enable authors to produce rich content that is delivered seamlessly across all digital channels. Lightning focuses on four functional areas of authoring, layout, workflow, preview, and media. “Lightning is best described as a framework distribution, because it doesn’t sacrifice flexibility for functionality. It is often used as a base distribution to build more specific distributions,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got a very strong principle that we don’t include anything in Lightning that a developer will need to take out or undo.”

All of these tools and extensions are designed to help developers build, test and launch better digital experiences. With an emphasis on improving developer experience, Acquia’s expanded toolset makes it easier to create enterprise-ready Drupal sites than ever before. Armed with these tools, developers, digital agencies, and organizations can create even greater value for their customers.

If you or a teammate are interested in learning more about Acquia’s tools and extensions for developers, check out the next stop on the Developer Roadshow (which includes a free technical training and demo) in San Diego this May.

Categories: Drupal Universe

State of Drupal presentation (April 2017)

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-05-01 19:41

Last week, 3,271 people gathered at DrupalCon Baltimore to share ideas, to connect with friends and colleagues, and to collaborate on both code and community. It was a great event. One of my biggest takeaways from DrupalCon Baltimore is that Drupal 8's momentum is picking up more and more steam. There are now about 15,000 Drupal 8 sites launching every month.

I want to continue the tradition of sharing my State of Drupal presentations. You can watch a recording of my keynote (starting at 24:00) or download a copy of my slides here (108 MB).



The first half of my presentation provided an overview of Drupal 8 updates. I discussed why Drupal is for ambitious digital experiences, how we will make Drupal upgrades easier and why we added four new Drupal 8 committers recently.

The second half of my keynote highlighted the newest improvements to Drupal 8.3, which was released less than a month ago. I showcased how an organization like The Louvre could use Drupal 8 to take advantage of new and improved site builder (layouts video, workflow video), content author (authoring video) and end user (BigPipe video, chatbot video) features.

I also shared that the power of Drupal lies in its ability to support the spectrum of both traditional websites and decoupled applications. Drupal continues to move beyond the page, and is equipped to support new user experiences and distribution platforms, such as conversational user interfaces. The ability to support any user experience is driving the community's emphasis on making Drupal API-first, not API-only.

Finally, it was really rewarding to spotlight several Drupalists that have made an incredible impact on Drupal. If you are interested in viewing each spotlight, they are now available on my YouTube channel.

Thanks to all who made DrupalCon Baltimore a truly amazing event. Every year, DrupalCon allows the Drupal community to come together to re-energize, collaborate and celebrate. Discussions on evolving Drupal's Code of Conduct and community governance were held and will continue to take place virtually after DrupalCon. If you have not yet had the chance, I encourage you to participate.

Categories: Drupal Universe

5 Digital Platform Rock Stars to Learn From at DrupalCon

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-04-27 21:33

This week at DrupalCon Baltimore, I had the pleasure to host a panel of “Digital Platform Rock Stars.” What makes them rock stars? They all share a common trait: They are the changemakers in their respective organizations who are elevating the digital customer experience in meaningful ways.

In case you missed how our panelists put Drupal to work for their customers’ experiences, here are some highlights.

Visit Baltimore

Brendan Janishefski, Web Marketing Director

baltimore.org
Visit Baltimore teamed up with Miles Partnership, which showed the tourism center what’s possible with Drupal. As the official travel site for the city of Baltimore, Visit Baltimore seeks to boost the city’s tourism economy. Miles created the template that enables the Visit Baltimore team to build upon its award-winning site. Drupal also helped solve many of the security issues and concerns. While evolving over the past three years, Baltimore.org’s has won four major industry awards including the IAC Award for Outstanding Website.

Page, Wolfberg & Wirth, LLC

Lisa Bernhard, Director of Administration

Page, Wolfberg & Wirth, a firm specializing in emergency medical service law and compliance, was struggling with an aging, proprietary .NET site and looking to improve processes, reporting and tracking, as well as control costs. The firm hosts conferences regularly and needed a conference registration system that their existing site couldn’t accommodate.

With the help of Dropforge Labs, in just six weeks the team at Page, Wolfberg & Wirth built an ecommerce registration site that handled credit cards for the conference. This work led to building three more sites to address additional business goals. With Drupal’s rich API-first environment, they had the control to eliminate the complexity they were having with a third-party data site. Drupal’s authoring experience greatly improved their workflow. New access to data brought better decision making and insights. While users certainly appreciated the fresh redesign of the sites, it was Lisa’s internal stakeholders who really valued the work Lisa led and Drupal allowed.

Princess Cruises

Subramanian “Subbu” Hariharan, Project Lead and Architect

Princess Cruises started in 1965 with a single ship cruising to Mexico and has grown to 18 ships carrying 1.7 million guests around the globe.

With limited internet access in the open ocean, Princess Cruises wanted to give guests an ‘at sea’ mobile experience to send messages, book activities and excursions, make table reservations, order room service, and more. Princess Cruises leverages local production environments on the ships that connect to central hubs when docked at ports. Drupal was the logical CMS system of choice because it provides “speed to market” in three areas.

  1. Content and supporting translation into nine languages that gives guests the information they need in their native language with translation help from Lingotek
  2. Guest communication that allows guests to chat with their family and friends (Drupal has modules to provide this).
  3. Commerce to allow guests to book onshore excursions online.

These three requirements were delivered in less than two months. Using the same Drupal environment on the ships, Princess Cruises built operations applications to help the crew support the guests such as a breakfast ordering system. Before Drupal, guests would fill out a paper form the night before for what they wanted for breakfast and leave it outside of their door. For 90 minutes, “runners” at 4am would collect more than 400 of these forms that would then be sorted so breakfasts could be cooked to order With the new system, guests simply order on their mobile devices, making it easier for them and for staff.

The original goal was to get 10 percent of guests to use Princess@Sea, and today they have 71 percent of guests utilizing it from across the fleet. And this is just the start; Princess Cruises plans to launch ground-breaking uses of technology with IoT, personalization, and machine learning to give guests an even better vacation experience.

Flight Centre Travel Group

Kiel Frost, Digital Platform Lead

Flight Centre

Flight Centre Travel Group is an $18 billion travel business based in Australia consisting of more than 40 brands such as US-business Liberty Travel. It is one of the world’s largest travel agency groups with company-owned operations in 14 countries and a corporate travel management network that spans more than 90 countries. It employs more than 19,000 people globally and has a total of 2,800 businesses.

Five years ago, before the move to Drupal, Flight Centre Travel Group was dealing with a digital environment built on a legacy CMS system. Everything was a challenge back then; getting new sites up, ensuring consistency across multiple brands, and getting campaigns up and running was impossible to scale. Flight Centre needed a solution that would allow the marketing team to update pages, spin up new sites, and run campaigns quickly and effortlessly. Drupal was the choice solution.

Today Flight Centre manages 90 sites on Drupal; the platform now allows new sites to be launched in less than a day rather than a month. The site development effort shifted from developers to marketing teams who can spin up a new site quickly and easily on their own.

Comcast

David Valade, Senior Director of Product Management

One of Comcast’s strategic initiatives focuses on healthcare, and specifically new ways to help hospitals and insurers provide ‘continuous care’ from hospital to home. Comcast started with an idea: deliver high quality education videos and interactions into the home to support pre- and postoperative conditions to help hospitals, insurers and ultimately the patients.

Their requirement was to create sites in support of a multitude of insurance brands and subbrands, manage content centrally, and then publish out to different end points. They delivered this experience over smart TVs, personal mobile phones, tablets as well as a responsive website.

Their ultimate solution was built on Drupal leveraging Acquia Cloud Site Factory and the content syndication capabilities of Acquia Lift. This allowed them to stand up a whole new instance of a site in a day or two, and connect it to the central content. The decision came down to Drupal’s framework, which allowed for rapid development. Drupal let Comcast build a “self-service scenario” for multiple underlying sites compared to having to build any of the provisioning capability from the ground up. Flexibility was a key requirement.

The diversity these five businesses’ industries, goals, and target markets demonstrates the power and flexibility that Drupal has to support them all.

Watch the full panel discussion here:

Categories: Drupal Universe

Palantir builds custom D8 Modules for AcademyHealth

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-04-26 19:40

At Acquia, our partners are thought leaders, storytellers, and tastemakers. We are proud to partner with the leading digital agencies, development shops, and system integrators that are driving the future of digital. Partner Success Stories highlight partners who not only build and extend their business with Acquia and Drupal, but create significant value for their clients through an emphasis on customer success.

home site

Palantir.net is a full-service web agency that specializes in Drupal development, and was an influential contributor to the Drupal 8 Module Acceleration Program. The team at Palantir is responsible for contributing Workbench, a suite of modules that improve the experience of maintaining and editing content in Drupal. Palantir’s list of contributions doesn’t end there; most recently they built a custom Drupal 8 module for GatherContent.

Due to Palantir’s established Drupal prowess, the agency was selected by AcademyHealth, an objective broker of healthcare information, to define their web presence and effectively demonstrate the value of AcademyHealth membership. Working in partnership with the Acquia Ready team, Palantir successfully replatformed the AcademyHealth site on to Drupal 8 aided by the dedicated Acquia concierge staff.

AcademyHealth brings together health services and policy research professionals to transform the future of health services research (HSR). ​Health services research that helps to determine what works, for whom, at what cost, and under what circumstances. HSR studies how our health system works, how to support patients and providers in choosing the right care, and how to improve health through care delivery.

AcademyHealth offers HSR practitioners access to leading health policy publications, course syllabi, research funding, networking opportunities and training programs. Additionally they provide policymakers and the media the necessary tools to navigate and address key issues related to the delivery of health care and the development of health policy. By redesigning their site, AcademyHealth’s goal was to make it easy to find and explore relevant HSR research and topics drawn from a variety of sources.

Prior to migrating to Drupal 8, the AcademyHealth membership site was platformed on CMS Plus, a proprietary content management solution, and their blog was on WordPress. Due to the resource and budgetary constraints that coincide with a non-profit organization like AcademyHealth, they required the following; a CMS that would create a cohesive web presence and eliminate licensing fees; a hosting solution that would ease the workload of hosting internally; and a proper development workflow, which could be achieved by a cloud hosting solution.

Because of the long-term affordability offered by an open source solution, Drupal 8 was chosen to be the best option for the new AcademyHealth site. Given their stated hosting needs and having deployed numerous sites successfully in partnership with Acquia, Palantir recommended Acquia’s services to be the most effective cloud hosting solution for AcademyHealth.

Several aspects of the Acquia Platform perfectly suited AcademyHealth’s needs, such as automated backups and disaster recovery. The Acquia also achieved two key goals for AcademyHealth: the first goal was to incorporate Apache Solr into the new site. The second was that the AcademyHealth site had a Personify SSO integration that required special handling on the firewall level. They wanted to expose the Personify API while protecting the application, and Acquia was able to do so.

We have had an amazing experience with Acquia. They have been extremely responsive, and they have done everything they can to get us to where we need to be. - Zenneia McLendon, Digital Strategy at AcademyHealth

If you want to learn more about the strategy and design behind AcademyHealth’s replatform, visit Palantir’s session Content Before Code - A D8 Case Study at Drupalcon Baltimore tomorrow. In this sessions you’ll learn more about how a partnership between Palantir and Acquia transformed AcademyHealth’s membership site, in addition to the following take aways:

  • How to use GatherContent to create content
  • Migrate structured content in conjunction with Drupal 8
  • Collaborate with clients in planning, structuring and curating content prior to development
Categories: Drupal Universe

Drupal is API-first, not API-only

Acquia Blogs - Tue, 2017-04-25 16:59

More and more developers are choosing content-as-a-service solutions known as headless CMSes — content repositories which offer no-frills editorial interfaces and expose content APIs for consumption by an expanding array of applications. Headless CMSes share a few common traits: they lack end-user front ends, provide few to no editorial tools for display and layout, and as such leave presentational concerns almost entirely up to the front-end developer. Headless CMSes have gained popularity because:

  • A desire to separate concerns of structure and presentation so that front-end teams and back-end teams can work independently from each other.
  • Editors and marketers are looking for solutions that can serve content to a growing list of channels, including websites, back-end systems, single-page applications, native applications, and even emerging devices such as wearables, conversational interfaces, and IoT devices.

Due to this trend among developers, many are rightfully asking whether headless CMSes are challenging the market for traditional CMSes. I'm not convinced that headless CMSes as they stand today are where the CMS world in general is headed. In fact, I believe a nuanced view is needed.

In this blog post, I'll explain why Drupal has one crucial advantage that propels it beyond the emerging headless competitors: it can be an exceptional CMS for editors who need control over the presentation of their content and a rich headless CMS for developers building out large content ecosystems in a single package.

As Drupal continues to power the websites that have long been its bread and butter, it is also used more and more to serve content to other back-end systems, single-page applications, native applications, and even conversational interfaces — all at the same time.

Headless CMSes are leaving editors behind This diagram illustrates the differences between a traditional Drupal website and a headless CMS with various front ends receiving content.

Some claim that headless CMSes will replace traditional CMSes like Drupal and WordPress when it comes to content editors and marketers. I'm not so sure.

Where headless CMSes fall flat is in the areas of in-context administration and in-place editing of content. Our outside-in efforts, in contrast, aim to allow an editor to administer content and page structure in an interface alongside a live preview rather than in an interface that is completely separate from the end user experience. Some examples of this paradigm include dragging blocks directly into regions or reordering menu items and then seeing both of these changes apply live.

By their nature, headless CMSes lack full-fledged editorial experience integrated into the front ends to which they serve content. Unless they expose a content editing interface tied to each front end, in-context administration and in-place editing are impossible. In other words, to provide an editorial experience on the front end, that front end must be aware of that content editing interface — hence the necessity of coupling.

Display and layout manipulation is another area that is key to making marketers successful. One of Drupal's key features is the ability to control where content appears in a layout structure. Headless CMSes are unopinionated about display and layout settings. But just like in-place editing and in-context administration, editorial tools that enable this need to be integrated into the front end that faces the end user in order to be useful.

In addition, editors and marketers are particularly concerned about how content will look once it's published. Access to an easy end-to-end preview system, especially for unpublished content, is essential to many editors' workflows. In the headless CMS paradigm, developers have to jump through fairly significant hoops to enable seamless preview, including setting up a new API endpoint or staging environment and deploying a separate version of their application that issues requests against new paths. As a result, I believe seamless preview — without having to tap on a developer's shoulder — is still necessary.

Features like in-place editing, in-context administration, layout manipulation, and seamless but faithful preview are essential building blocks for an optimal editorial experience for content creators and marketers. For some use cases, these drawbacks are totally manageable, especially where an application needs little editorial interaction and is more developer-focused. But for content editors, headless CMSes simply don't offer the toolkits they have come to expect; they fall short where Drupal shines.

Drupal empowers both editors and application developers This diagram illustrates the differences between a coupled — but headless-enabled — Drupal website and a headless CMS with various front ends receiving content.

All of this isn't to say that headless isn't important. Headless is important, but supporting both headless and traditional approaches is one of the biggest advantages of Drupal. After all, content management systems need to serve content beyond editor-focused websites to single-page applications, native applications, and even emerging devices such as wearables, conversational interfaces, and IoT devices.

Fortunately, the ongoing API-first initiative is actively working to advance existing and new web services efforts that make using Drupal as a content service much easier and more optimal for developers. We're working on making developers of these applications more productive, whether through web services that provide a great developer experience like JSON API and GraphQL or through tooling that accelerates headless application development like the Waterwheel ecosystem.

For me, the key takeaway of this discussion is: Drupal is great for both editors and developers. But there are some caveats. For web experiences that need significant focus on the editor or assembler experience, you should use a coupled Drupal front end which gives you the ability to edit and manipulate the front end without involving a developer. For web experiences where you don't need editors to be involved, Drupal is still ideal. In an API-first approach, Drupal provides for other digital experiences that it can't explicitly support (those that aren't web-based). This keeps both options open to you.

Drupal for your site, headless Drupal for your apps This diagram illustrates the ideal architecture for Drupal, which should be leveraged as both a front end in and of itself as well as a content service for other front ends.

In this day and age, having all channels served by a single source of truth for content is important. But what architecture is optimal for this approach? While reading this you might have also experienced some déjà-vu from a blog post I wrote last year about how you should decouple Drupal, which is still solid advice nearly a year after I first posted it.

Ultimately, I recommend an architecture where Drupal is simultaneously coupled and decoupled; in short, Drupal shines when it's positioned both for editors and for application developers, because Drupal is great at both roles. In other words, your content repository should also be your public-facing website — a contiguous site with full editorial capabilities. At the same time, it should be the centerpiece for your collection of applications, which don't necessitate editorial tools but do offer your developers the experience they want. Keeping Drupal as a coupled website, while concurrently adding decoupled applications, isn't a limitation; it's an enhancement.

Conclusion

Today's goal isn't to make Drupal API-only, but rather API-first. It doesn't limit you to a coupled approach like CMSes without APIs, and it doesn't limit you to an API-only approach like Contentful and other headless CMSes. To me, that is the most important conclusion to draw from this: Drupal supports an entire spectrum of possibilities. This allows you to make the proper trade-off between optimizing for your editors and marketers, or for your developers, and to shift elsewhere on that spectrum as your needs change.

It's a spectrum that encompasses both extremes of the scenarios that a coupled approach and headless approach represent. You can use Drupal to power a single website as we have for many years. At the same time, you can use Drupal to power a long list of applications beyond a traditional website. In doing so, Drupal can be adjusted up and down along this spectrum according to the requirements of your developers and editors.

In other words, Drupal is API-first, not API-only, and rather than leave editors and marketers behind in favor of developers, it gives everyone what they need in one single package.

Special thanks to Preston So for contributions to this blog post and to Wim Leers, Ted Bowman, Chris Hamper and Matt Grill for their feedback during the writing process.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Building Quality Digital Experiences Faster with Acquia Cloud CD

Acquia Blogs - Fri, 2017-04-21 21:10

When it comes to building great digital customer experiences, creativity alone isn’t enough. There are many factors to consider -- open source software, the front-end user experience, security, personalization, scalability, and so on -- but at the heart of it all is the underlying code and environments. Quality code ensures greater stability and velocity so developer teams can speed delivery time and deploy new features faster.

It takes a lot of time and resources for developer teams to build and test high quality code for digital experiences. These teams can waste several days and even weeks creating and maintaining custom process integration code for build and test automation. This is especially true if teams are manually setting up and maintaining multiple environments. Manual processes can easily become error prone; codebases run the risk of being out of date or having versioning inconsistencies. Encountering either of these challenges can lead to several delays in integration or testing releases, stability issues, and more resource time spent on updating, debugging, and deploying simple fixes.

Development teams need automation and self-service environments that will allow them to build, test, and deliver complex, engaging and high-quality code faster without waiting for provisioning delays due to lack of cloud or team resources.

Introducing Acquia Cloud CD

Acquia Cloud CD, a continuous delivery service with automated building and testing pipelines and integrated self-service environments. Together, developers have a complete DevOps system for delivering environments, configurations and versions of code, and complete digital experience applications.

Acquia Cloud CD solves the common hurdles faced by developer teams by giving them a standard pipeline service to create continuous building and testing on Acquia Cloud. Development teams can rapidly build and test changes to their code with production-like environments that closely match their applications running in Acquia Cloud environments. With Acquia Cloud CD, DevOps teams have one platform for implementing continuous integration and delivery and a standard service for tool integration, governance automation, and process orchestration. Acquia Cloud CD also allows for self-service provisioning and deprovisioning of production-like environments to support development, testing, and deployment stages when needs come up; giving teams valuable time back so they can focus on delivering customer value.

Acquia Cloud CD is the fastest way for developers to deliver higher quality digital experience software, allowing our customers to easily:

  • Automate delivery of quality releases, resulting in higher client value
  • Rapidly build and test changes on environments that match Acquia Cloud production environments
  • Reduce risk of code inconsistencies, versioning inconsistencies and bugs via ready-to-use building and testing pipeline orchestration service and self-service environments
  • Work on multiple branches or projects in parallel without stepping on each other’s work
  • Build with speed/velocity while lowering risks in quality, stability and intellectual property
  • Automate development governance for code building, assembling, compilation and control
  • Enforce and follow best practices across all development and DevOps teams and resources, with easy access, and ability for release managers to control code access based on internal and external roles
  • Create self-service, production-like environments in minutes via Acquia Cloud UI, pipelines orchestration service, or CD environments API interface.

With Acquia Cloud CD, developers can now deliver new features more often, faster, and with quality code. There is no custom integration code or hosting providers between test, stage and production. Acquia Cloud CD provides the most efficient path for developers by giving them automated repeatable processes and an error-free way of building and delivering new capabilities into production.

If you’re already using Acquia Cloud, Acquia Cloud CD is already seamlessly integrated into the Acquia Cloud UI. For more information on using Acquia Cloud CD, watch the video below:

Categories: Drupal Universe

Don't go low

Don't go low

This is a very uncomfortable time for Drupal. It seems there has been a great deal of concern and discomfort lurking just below the surface for a while, and recent events surrounding me have brought them all to the forefront at once. It's going to take some time to unravel it all. Hopefully it can be a learning process for many.

For the moment, though, there's one particular point I want to address, and particular people I want to address it to: Don't be an asshole, not even in my defense.

Larry 16 April 2017 - 2:09pm Personal
Categories: Drupal Universe

Cyber Security Becomes a Rising Concern for Colleges and Universities

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-04-13 14:37

Today, institutions of higher education are seeing a greater frequency of Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. As digital teams work to develop and grow their institution’s web presence, there are foundational considerations that must be taken into account to ensure that universities maintain site security and top performance. End users, such as students, faculty, and alumni, have also come to expect that their information is secure and that the sites be accessible and performant. With all of these considerations in mind, universities must place a greater emphasis on developing secure and scalable digital platforms. Security and cloud infrastructures have become increasingly important in achieving these goals.

Higher education institutions are of unique interest, as security threats like these can have a major effect on a university’s ability to provide the proper services and resources to their stakeholders. The scope of information that is provided through the breadth of web properties that universities offer can have serious implications if inaccessible or compromised. For example, educational institutions have become responsible for providing secure payment portals and student identification information as a service to their user. While cloud security requirements have hardened to defend against compromising incidences, according to Akamai’s State of the Internet Q4 2016 report, DDoS attacks over 100 Gbps increased 140 percent year-over-year from Q4 2015, indicating that these trends are not going away anytime soon. In fact, malicious actors have been known to repeatedly attack their targets an average of 24 times.

The risks in forgoing security considerations can be profound. Aside from the reputational hazards in having web properties become inaccessible during crucial periods such as enrollments, admissions and testing, there are significant cost implications for poor site performance during such events. Cloud-based infrastructure providers manage site uptime SLAs, which could lead to significant unplanned increases in hardware costs if additional resources are required to keep sites performing through periods of malicious activity. Institutions managing on premise data centers could see unforeseen costs, in overtime staffing, lost business opportunities, or loss of data.

The damages provoked by DDoS attacks are significant, and can have a severe effect on a university’s resources and brand. Rutgers University experienced six DDoS attacks in 2015. Previous incidents led to Rutgers spending upwards of $3 million in added infrastructure to prevent service degradation from DDoS attacks, yet further attacks proved the added infrastructure futile, causing some sites to fail for upwards of five days. As a result of one of the attacks in September 2015, more than 1,000 students signed a petition requesting tuition refunds due to service inaccessibility.

So what are some of the available options in mitigating DDoS attacks at the infrastructure or application layer? As technology advances, cyber attacks like DDoS continue to increase in complexity and scale. Long-standing techniques that have proven effective in the past are no longer suitable to combat the sophisticated attacks of late. Some of these methods include “black-holing,” router filtering and manual, reactive responses such as IP black/white-listing. However, more advanced attacks call for more sophisticated and comprehensive solutions. A managed DDoS mitigation solution sets leverage extensive libraries of known DDoS IP sources, and extensive cloud-based networks can prove effective against the most sophisticated, large-scale attacks. Multi-vector security solutions can provide comprehensive security against data-compromising malware attacks. For example, solutions such as Acquia Cloud Edge provide a cloud based content delivery network and web application firewall used to prevent DDoS and application level attacks. Edge Protect provides a layer of security between site visitors and the web applications that blocks attack traffic before it can reach your institution's digital properties.

With security-related incidences becoming ever more prevalent, the onus turns to the institution to determine if the course of action is to be proactive or reactive in defending against the inevitability of an attack. Many of Acquia’s customers have found a path to success. Reach out to learn how.

Categories: Drupal Universe

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