Proper Care and Feeding of a Drupal Site
The topic of open source vs. proprietary software for government websites – actually any website – is the source of a lot of conversation and consideration these days.
Very often, it’s website maintenance and support that proves to be the key differentiator. With proprietary software, support is wrapped up into the licensing fees. The upside of such an arrangement: minimal decision making or need to weigh multiple factors relative to selection of a support partner. The downside: you get what you get.
Websites that are built on proprietary platforms are supported and maintained by the company that owns the software. Period. Wherever the level of support falls on the spectrum of excellent to abysmal, the relationship is locked in.
As an open source CMS, Drupal sites also need to be supported and maintained. The difference is choice. Site owners have the option to contract with any Drupal support provider, they can handle Drupal support in-house, they can work out a hybrid arrangement, and they can switch it up if Plan A does not prove to be meeting their needs.
As such, Drupal support providers need to add value and bring their A-game to every interaction.
Clients have choices and they know it.
Selecting a Drupal Support Partner
When selecting an optimal Drupal support arrangement, many factors come into play and the right solutions are not one-size-fits-all. There are lots of questions and much to be clarified before moving forward.
Here are the kinds of questions that we frequently hear concerning Drupal website maintenance.
If my Drupal site was built well in the first place, does it still need to be supported and maintained?
In our current, digital climate, your website is the window into your organization. It’s a vital digital asset that calls for well calibrated care and feeding.
Stakes are high for keeping data secure and heading off security breaches as threats are identified within the Drupal community. There is no end to the bad actors out there, who view compromising web security as a sport. At Promet, we’re constantly monitoring the Drupal community message boards, and when issues arise, we’re on it.
Whether you need to accomplish something slightly outside of your internal team’s skill set or just need to supplement your team from time to time, a good Drupal support relationship is key to the peak performance of your site along with value-added alignment with your organizational goals and objectives.
Wait a minute. Isn't open source software free?
It’s essential to keep the concept of “free” in perspective. Open source software is freely available, the code base can be inspected, modified or enhanced, and there are no licensing fees associated with its use.
Proprietary software, on the other hand, is owned and managed by an organization that holds exclusive rights to the source code. Licensing fees cover upgrades and security fixes – but on a preset timeframe determined by the company that owns the code.
The flipside for freely available open source is that keeping the site secure and up to date requires ongoing monitoring. Drupal support relationships are enhanced by the the collective brainpower of the worldwide Drupal community whose members share information about both vulnerabilities and fixes as they are detected.
What percentage of support hours are devoted to security updates vs. enhancements, design tweaks, etc?
That depends. Some clients opt to purchase a bare bones support agreement, with the intention of simply ensuring that their site does not miss out on the latest security update. While we can’t predict the number and types of security threats and Drupal updates that will occur over the course of a month or a year, we advise clients to build wiggle room into support agreements to allow for unexpected a needs for updates and enhancements that can emerge.
What kinds of options are there for Drupal support?
Sometimes site owners opt for in-house experts to manage all or part of website maintenance. The advantage of partnering with a provider, such as Promet, which maintains a sharp focus on Drupal support, is that we proactively of monitor for updates, security vulnerabilities, and community chatter.
Issues that arise within individual sites are triaged within categories of four tiers, ranging from immediate, one-hour response for emergency issues that spark a site-wide stoppage, to an eight-hour initial response for “normal” issues that are important but do not impede site functionality or business as usual.
Depending on the size and complexity of the site, we offer four service tiers that we’ve labeled Basic, Protect, Extend, and Ignite. As the names to these tiers implies, site security is at the foundation of Drupal support.
The Ignite tier goes deeper with services that include manual testing.
sting of upgrades, weekly scorecard reporting, weekly status calls, and quarterly heuristic and technical reviews. Options for additional service add-ons exist within all three tiers for services such as Google Analytics and SEO recommendations, complex automated testing, setup of an analytics dashboard, broken link checking, and ADA accessibility scans.
What does stellar Drupal support look like?
An optimal Drupal support relationship is a partnership that's devoted to peak website performance. The result is the assurance of a consistent user experience, opportunities to augment staff expertise, and confidence that site functionality will remain on the leading edge of what’s new, next, and needed tools such as an online support portal, a Jira ticketing system, automated testing, regularly scheduled reporting, and online chat capabilities provide a multiple means of connection, ensuring that lines of communication remain open and the integrity of their site never isn’t compromised.
Promet’s Drupal support clients have the advantages of a well-oiled machine of predictable, repeatable support and maintenance processes. Plus: access to a deep bench of expertise and capabilities that they can tap into as needed.
At Promet, our passion to ignite and fuel new digital possibilities hinges on the assurance of a secure, high-functioning site.
We’ve devoted a depth and breadth of resources toward expectation-exceeding support, and welcome the opportunity to start the conversation concerning the impact we could have on your site and within your organization.