Enterprise Multi-Site Migration
Dartmouth College, an esteemed Ivy League school established in 1769 in northern New Hampshire, had a quandary. They were caught between two generations of custom Drupal systems—a few sites running a new and highly custom build that caters to non-technical administrators, but most sites were running on an older and less sophisticated build. Both leveraged Drupal's multi-site architecture but were otherwise wildly different. Caring for two very different systems simultaneously was described as "unsustainable".
They looked to Bonify to do a deep dive to explore what works, what was needed for improvements, and strategies to migrate the old sites at scale and to move them to new custom Drupal build.
- Troublesome co-existing systems
- Twice the maintenance
- Double the training effort
- Two sets of documentation
- Streamlined migration plan
- Validation of new system
- A path to migrate dozens of sites
- Consolidation to maximize resource ROI
A Drupal deep dive into adjoining platforms.
Dartmouth had invested serious resources into creating a custom Drupal platform to enable new sites to be modern and highly-usable frontend and backend setup. Bonify consulted with Dartmouth's team to see if what was done was doable at scale—and then, how to strategize and execute the migration of data from dozens of sites that have varying levels of complexity. We interviewed stakeholders, kicked the tires of the new system, looked under the hood, and recognized that Dartmouth's long-term strategy was onto something. No need for drastic changes, only to embrace and finish up the new platform. We then did another deep dive into their old system—which was radically different from the new—to find paths that enable them to migrate from the older setup to the new build.
Should they stay? Or should they go?
The team at Bonify looked at the project from all angles and did a risk analysis to determine if Dartmouth should stay with their new system, or scratch that and start all over. The resulting assessment was an affirmation that Dartmouth had created a new system that can be scaled with some tweaking. There was no advantage for them to switch gears—technically (and financially) it made sense to use what they created. We made the recommendation to finish and migrate all sites to the new platform. We then took the next step, using an existing site (Dartmouth's History Department) as a test site for a pilot project, to see if mass migration was feasible by working through the toughest parts of the migration strategy. Migrations for 39 different and interdependent data structures were needed for the test site alone—content that was intertwined with other sites and systems. We created a working prototype that included 99 automated tests to ensure the right data (content, user permissions, etc) was migrated in the right place with the right configuration into the new multi-site system. The Proof Of Concept we built worked great! We confirmed migration at scale was a viable option. So what's next?
Enterprise Migration Strategy
With the test site migration proven successful, Dartmouth asked us to take the next step in our plan—a scaled enterprise migration to move data from dozens of Drupal sites on the old architecture to their new setup. We recommended a multi-tier batch migration process, starting with migrating small batches of relatively simple sites, then moderately complex sites, and lastly the super complicated sites. With each tier, we learn of any bugs to fix them before migrating the next level of complex sites.
By doing that, everything old becomes new again.