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A Drupal 7 Multi-site Migration to Acquia

  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership

LCM had the deep level of expertise needed to assist USM with a complex migration to Acquia

In preparation for an upgrade from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, USM was faced with the need to migrate four Drupal sites based on five codebases from an onsite installation to a hosted environment with Acquia. USM was seeking an experienced group of Drupal architects to work hand-in-hand with their iTech team to determine the necessary functional and configuration changes needed to accomplish the migration. USM had a particular interest in leveraging Acquia’s search capabilities.

The University reached out to Last Call Media to drive the high-level technical planning and heavy lifting of a migration to the Acquia Cloud. The University needed a team with platform migration experience to come in and bridge the gap between Acquia and the University’s internal iTech team to ensure that the launch went smoothly. 

Aside from our experience and planning skills, there were several mission critical pieces of the overall infrastructure that needed to be changed to fit within Acquia’s ecosystem. One of these was the site search. USM had previously used a combination of several open source tools to feed data from several different sources into the site’s search engine. While this solution worked well, it was being cut in favor of Acquia Search, powered by Apache Solr. The University brought us in to build a search platform that would be capable of indexing the content of all of the Drupal sites, and searching either independently (within each site’s own content silo), or across the board. Working closely with the iTech team, we planned and executed the search feature within the new infrastructure, including the configuration of environment specific search, so the University team could iterate and test the site search in the development and staging environments before rolling new features to production. 

The final piece of the puzzle was to bring the site’s performance and security up to Acquia’s standards. We worked hard to make the vast majority of the content cacheable by Acquia’s edge layer, and brought iTech and Acquia representatives together to find resolutions for all of the issues surfaced by Acquia’s Insight reporting. At the end of this process, we performed a successful load test across all 4 sites, effectively proving the sites were ready for launch.

As launch day grew closer, we began to focus on the final details. With iTech’s help, we formulated a simple and clear launch checklist that would keep everyone on the same page when it mattered the most. When the final cutover was finished, we had almost no post-launch issues to address.

The work was completed on a timeline that allowed USM to minimize risk by switching to the new site while the University was on break. USM achieved their goal of a smooth migration to Drupal 7 on the Acquia hosting platform with no down time. 

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Agile Drupal migration.

  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Architect
    Tom Fleming

Rapid migration and training for six departments.

The Dean of UMass Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS) school had provided a grant to its departments to migrate and update their out-dated static websites to Drupal.

Each department had its own web team, so the engagement was more about collaboration, with LCM doing much of the heavy lifting, while also facilitating and coaching an agile process.

We recommended a rapid, iterative, agile approach to migrate each static HTML site into database-driven websites using the University’s identity management system, Shibboleth. To achieve the highest value within the budget, each department, working with a Last Call producer, could decide how to prioritize tasks for migration, training, and new feature development.

To accomplish the overall project, LCM divided the total grant and project scope into a series of one-week sprints, two sprints per department. We met with each department to develop and prioritize the initial backlog of desired tasks for each department site. Each sprint started with a sprint planning meeting, which included department web teams as collaborators. Some departments were able to prioritize training, enabling them to do more manual migration of content, which in turn freed up sprint time for LCM to do more new feature development.

Leveraging the UMass University Relations custom theme, we rapidly developed numerous websites and provided training and support for each department to develop and deploy their own websites.

The process was very fast and highly collaborative. Due to the agile approach, several departments got additional features beyond the migration of their content from their static websites.