DrupalSouth, over the weekend of the 14th-16th February 2014 was another occurrence of the annual series of larger scale antipodean Drupal meet ups. Decision makers, developers, sysadmins project managers and more from all over Australia, New Zealand and beyond came to Wellington in the North Island to learn about and discuss the open source project that’s both employed us and brought us together; Drupal.
I was lucky enough to be selected to present a session at the conference after submitting a topic that echoes what I deal with frequently. A lot of our customers launch new sites on our platform at Acquia, be that a simple DNS cutover from another provider or a whole newly developed site. Usually, we’ve assisted in preparing the site for launch well before the date of no return and the launch is successful and quiet. However, once in a blue moon, if launch is pulled forward dramatically, a timeline isn’t followed, code changes are pushed at the last minute, or just an unforeseen scenario occurs, we get called in.
One of the hats I juggle as part of the customer solutions team is the task of necromancy; bringing websites and servers back from beyond the grave. When sites tank, myself and colleagues from almost ten different time zones are available to jump in and get them rolling again. With site launches being a highly watched, increased pressure period in the lifetime of the site, it needs to be done right first time or it could spell the end of a project entirely.
The session I presented offered a basic rundown of sensible site launch tasks and timelines. It also acted as a showcase for some of the more interesting launches I've seen with examples of launch almost-failures and steps for mitigation. While the slides themselves may not be very revealing of the talk, I certainly plan to build on this and use it for future Drupal gatherings. Site launches are the sharp end of developing a site and everyone across the team has a role to play in making it a success. While web technologies and offerings come and go, I'd imagine a launches are fairly consistent.