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 which has developed it for you.
So far, so good. You’re ready to go live, right?
Maybe. But have you considered whether you need a managed service provider to look after your site now that it’s up and running?
When working with open source platforms like Drupal, it’s easy to imagine that there’s less of a need for managed monitoring, maintenance and technical support than with proprietary or closed platforms. After all, if something goes wrong, there’s a wealth of free information and resources out there for you to work with.
In practice, however, managed services can be the most cost-effective, efficient and reliable way of ensuring that your investment in a new website continues to pay dividends, day after day. Here are some of the advantages of working with a reputable managed services provider – and the areas you should have front of mind when you are choosing one.
Your first line of defence
Any website is a potential route into an organisation for malicious hackers and cybercriminals – and Drupal, like any software platform, is regularly patched and upgraded to ensure that it is fully protected against the latest threats. However, because Drupal is open source, the exact patches and upgrades you need to apply will vary depending on which additional modules you have deployed – and this can quickly get complicated. Delay for just a few weeks and that’s a few weeks of your website – and potentially highly sensitive data – being vulnerable to attackers.
It’s important, therefore, to view your managed services provider as part of your defence against cybercrime. By handling the patches and upgrades demanded by the precise nuances of your website, they provide a first line of defence against digital vandalism, data theft and the reputational damage that goes along with cyberattacks. In other words, you should view your Drupal managed services provider as part of your cybersecurity posture – and choose them accordingly.
A single point of contact
Lots of third parties are involved with your website and wider IT infrastructure, whether you like it or not. Your website depends on reams of hardware and software, which in turn depend on individual vendors.. Managing all of these relationships separately can be complicated enough, but managing how they fit together, and ensuring that all of your vendors’ products and services ‘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 work powerfully to free 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 – freeing up valuable time for you.
Continual peace of mind
No website should just be left to its own devices after launch. Cybersecurity and operational best practice demand that you continually monitor your website, checking for any signs of technology failure or malicious interference. In fact, some of this monitoring may be required by law, depending on the regulatory frameworks you are subject to.
But, once again, this is a specialist and complicated process. Do you have the appropriate monitoring tools in place? Do you have knowledgeable staff 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.
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. Sometimes it can wait until tomorrow. Sometimes – 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.