How To Choose A Managed Service Provider For Your Drupal Website

Post by Ben N Picture of Ben N
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Firstly, I think it’s worth mentioning what we mean by a managed service provider. A managed service provider is usually just a fancy term used by large organisations who have an IT provider who looks after a variety of things such as network, application, infrastructure and security, through ongoing, regular support and active administration.

For the purpose of this blog, we’re talking about organisations that can support your Drupal website.

You’ve chosen to build the site on Drupal for a long list of powerful reasons.

You love its flexibility and scalability, the fact that it’s open-source and that there’s, therefore, a great selection of add-ons and plug-ins available, and the knowledge that your site will remain agile and cutting-edge. 

You’ve developed a shiny new website – or you’ve worked with a great third party team to develop your perfect site, ticking all the boxes you had planned.

So far, so good - you’re ready to go live?

It’s all well and good upgrading to a shiny new site, but once it’s launched and your visitors are using it, it must continually be monitored and maintained to get the results you deserve. 

It’s easy to imagine that there’s less of a need for managed monitoring, maintenance and technical support than with other CMS platforms which aren’t as well constructed. After all, if something goes wrong, there’s a wealth of free information and resources out there for you to work with.

However, in practice, managed services can be the most cost-effective and reliable route.

A dedicated team of efficient and dependable developers supporting your site ensures that your investment in a new website continues to pay dividends, day after day. 

In this blog, I explain some of the advantages of working with a reputable managed services provider and the areas you should have in the front of your mind when you’re choosing one.

Your first line of defence

Drupal, like any software platform, is regularly patched and upgraded to ensure that it is fully protected against the latest threats. 

Regular software updates and patches to your CMS keep your walls up against the latest threats from malicious hackers.

However, because Drupal is open source, the exact patches and upgrades you need to apply will vary depending on modules you have installed – and this can get complicated quite quickly. 

Putting off these upgrades or ‘getting round to it later’ can leave your site vulnerable to attackers and potentially have your site down for weeks if it comes under fire. 

You could be risking sensitive data and even worse, your customers trust in using your services. 

It’s important to view your managed service provider as part of your line of defence. By making sure the responsibility falls on someone dedicated to the cause, whether that's hiring your own developer or finding yourself a support agency. Handling these patches and regular updates is important for your site to stay alive and protected. 

In other words, you should view your Drupal managed services provider as part of your cybersecurity defence – and choose them accordingly.

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A single point of contact

An inevitable part of a website is that lots of third parties are involved in every aspect of its existence. 

Your website depends on reams of hardware and software, which all depend on individual suppliers. 

Managing all of these relationships separately can be complicated enough, but managing how they fit together, and ‘speak’ to each other properly, can be nearly impossible.

Happily, this is a task that you can hand over to a Drupal managed service provider. 

Website hosting is a great example of where this can be powerful at freeing up time and responsibility within your organisation. 

Your managed service provider can choose the most appropriate hosting provider and package for your needs, manage the setup and the ongoing relationship – allowing you to focus on doing what you do best.

Continual peace of mind

Your website should never be left to its own devices after launch. 

You should be continually checking for technology failure or malicious interference. 

Anything from downtime on your server to a DDOS attack

Some of this monitoring may be required by law, depending on the regulatory frameworks you are subject to.

From a marketing point of view, you're risking your campaigns being missed and turning your visitors away.

Although website maintenance is possible on your own, your team must have a thorough understanding of what is needed to successfully do this.

Do you have the appropriate monitoring tools in place? 

Do you have a knowledgeable team who can check on the output of these tools and interpret the data they provide effectively? 

If not, then a third-party managed service provider could be a godsend.

The same applies to your support agency. Finding the right agency is important, from making sure they’ve got the right skillset and credentials to assuring the team can work well collaboratively alongside you. We recently came up with a blog which outlines how to select the right support agency, along with a downloadable sheet for how to ask the right questions

When the worst happens

Finally, when the worst does happen and a technical glitch or something more sinister interferes with the smooth running of your Drupal website, it’s vital that you are able to respond rapidly and appropriately. 

You need to be able to understand the incident as quickly as possible and you need to be able to translate that understanding into a suitable response. 

Sometimes you can undertake a quick repair job there and then. 

Other times it can wait until tomorrow. 

Rarely, and we hope this doesn’t happen, but you need to be prepared – you will need to take your website offline in order to fix it.

But making and acting on these decisions, and doing so in a timely manner, relies on specific expertise and experience. And if you don’t have that in-house, a third-party managed services provider can be truly invaluable. 

Finally, when the worst does happen and a technical glitch or something more sinister interferes with the smooth running of your Drupal website, it’s vital that you are able to respond rapidly and appropriately.

Drupal is open source, the exact patches and upgrades you need to apply will vary depending on modules you have installed – and this can get complicated quite quickly. 

Putting off these upgrades or ‘getting round to it later’ can leave your site vulnerable to attackers and potentially have your site down for weeks if it comes under fire. 

You could be risking sensitive data and even worse, your customers trust in using your services. 

 you should view your Drupal managed services provider as part of your cybersecurity defence – and choose them accordingly.

working on laptop in kitchen setting - pexels
Ben

Ben N

Client Account Manager

With over 15 years in sales and customer care across networking, telecoms, software, security and professional services and having managed many multi year large corporate contracts including project management, scoping and resourcing of the projects I am the key client contact at Ixis.

Comments

When you say a managed service provider, do you mean a company like Platform.sh?

Glyn Heath

No, that's a self-service offering where you are responsible for backing up your site and applying security updates each week.

Mike C

In reply to by Glyn Heath

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