At Knectar, we spent many years creating our own development environments from scratch on various hosting platforms, our preferences changing from time to time based on their relative price and performance. So it was somewhat of a culture shift when we began using Pantheon, but now we recommend it to more and more clients as our go-to website hosting service.
The Tech Benefits Of Pantheon As Your Website Hosting Service
I’m not going to get too in-depth on the technological benefits of choosing Pantheon as your website host, Pantheon outlines their tech benefits nicely here, but I do want to mention a few reasons why we particularly love it. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Pantheon itself has been specifically optimized for content management systems.
Pantheon’s dashboards make it super easy to manage our projects from one convenient screen. We can see all of the projects we’re managing in one place:
And then within each project, another dashboard allows us to view and manage changes to the code and push updates to development, testing, and live sites:
There’s literally nothing easier than a one-click update. This allows us to keep maintenance costs low for a client, while still maintaining the integrity of our QA system.
Pantheon hosting includes both development and testing versions of our sites so we’re able to make sure everything is working perfectly before we commit the code to the live site. Not only does this free up our clients’ budgets because our developers don’t need to push Drupal maintenance updates, but it means our developers are more available for other billable work.
Continuous Integration & Git Source Control
Every single project we undertake requires rigorous source control. This ensures that we always have accountability when new code is deployed and a previous version of the site backed up in the slim chance we need to revert back after a deployment. Pantheon guarantees a stable and, most importantly, standardized workflow for web deployments that includes Git version control.
The best part about this is that when we’re going through our QA procedure on Pantheon’s testing site, we know we’re working on an up-to-date replica of the live site. This allows us to confidently deploy changes to the live site without fear of major complications since we were able to address any issues on both the development and testing copies of the site.
The Web Host Support Team
If for some reason there is a problem, we can quickly and easily chat with a member of the Pantheon support team. Whenever I’ve needed them to answer a question, they’ve usually gotten back to me within a day and have even helped me deploy some code when one of my developers was unavailable. This ability to troubleshoot with Pantheon’s support team is an additional layer of savings for our clients because we’re not billing our hourly rate while our development team troubleshoots a dev-ops issue.
How Pantheon Hosting Has Revolutionized Our Workflow
As a relatively small company, for the majority of our history, we created our own development environments on unconfigured servers. Our deployments were carefully controlled by source control (we use Beanstalk) and triggered only by our development team. This, without a doubt, has its own benefits: minute control over server setups, the ability to optimize for speed, etc.
What our previous set-up was interfering with, however, was smooth workflows. Our team of technical project managers was feeling stifled by the need to rely so heavily on our DevOps/development team to push simple changes to staging for clients. High priority fixes were sometimes delayed by 24 hours as we waited for a developer to become available to push a code change. When we looked for alternatives, we knew these would all be priorities in our ideal websites hosting service.
Pantheon web hosting has completely changed this internal workflow for basic ticket pushes. We’re able to retain the same high level of source control, but Pantheon takes care of most of the work for us. Now, when a developer has pushed a set of changes to the Pantheon development instance, a project manager can QA the change and then, with the click of a button, push the changes to staging for the client to review. This has saved Knectar countless hours of scheduling and coordination with internal teams and has sped up our turnaround time for most client tickets.
Additionally, when a site is ready to launch, Pantheon’s site ownership setup allows for a seamless transition from Knectar ownership to a client-controlled account so we don’t have to worry about managing hosting costs. This also means that we don’t have to spend billable client hours packaging up sites: Pantheon allows us to simply transfer ownership of sites to our clients. We’ve also found that our clients appreciate the transparent hosting costs associated with the managing their own Pantheon accounts after we’ve transitioned their site to them.
We still have several sites that are on their own unique server setups for various reasons, and we do use Acquia for some of our larger educational clients. However, Pantheon–for both its technical superiority and workflow speed increases–has become our go-to for most of the projects we handle.