Looking for a Drupal alternative to Acquia? Pantheon vs Platform.sh

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Why choose Platform.sh vs Pantheon?

Looking for a more modern platform to host and manage your Drupal sites? If you’re using Drupal (and have a big budget), it’s likely those sites are running with a traditional managed services provider like Acquia, or you’re running your sites on-premises. Either way, your team deserves a better cloud solution, and you’re now considering Platform.sh and Pantheon.

Let’s begin by saying we’ve known our friends at Pantheon for a long time—after all, we both have deep roots in the Drupal community (their founders ran development shops while Platform.sh was incubated by Commerce Guys, the software vendor behind Drupal Commerce). They’ve built a great team and hosting product for Drupal.

More than 5,000 customers worldwide develop and deploy their sites on Platform.sh. What drove their decisions for Platform.sh over Pantheon? We asked for the top ten reasons. But like many awesome things, this list goes to eleven.

1. Platform.sh is built for Composer and Symfony, but doesn’t leave your legacy Drupal behind

Modern Drupal 8 is built around two technologies that make developers’ lives easier.

Composer simplifies dependency management for PHP applications, much like PIP for Python or NPM for Node.js. Unlike Pantheon, Platform.sh supports Composer natively. Instead of downloading and committing all of the dependencies for your Drupal site to your host, you describe them in a Composer file, and the Platform.sh CI/CD pipeline takes care of installing them and running any other build or deployment tasks.

Symfony is the other technology at the heart of Drupal 8. As the 'cloud' powering Symfony Cloud and Magento Commerce, our Symfony expertise runs deep. Learn more about Symfony on Platform.sh.

2. Platform.sh supports any Drupal version

Running Drupal 7? Or even Drupal 6? Drupal Multisite? You can run them on Platform.sh alongside your Drupal 8 (and when it’s available, Drupal 9) sites, with the same Git-driven workflow and “batteries included” approach to data services. Platform.sh supports Drupal Multisite multiple MySQL databases and schemas on a single project, too. There are arguments for and against Multisite, but with Platform.sh you’re not forced to change your architecture. Pantheon on the other hand doesn't support Drupal Multisite or more than one MySQL database per project.

3. All the services you need to run an ambitious digital experience with Drupal

Drupal has never existed in a technological vacuum. That’s more true now than ever before, with “Headless Drupal” or “Decoupled” architectures combining a Drupal back end with a Javascript front end written in Angular, React, and so on. are becoming the norm rather than the exception. Platform.sh supports multiple runtimes–like PHP and Node.js–in the same project, so you can manage and deploy your sites as a single app. Pantheon only allows Drupal and WordPress, so you’ll need to find a separate host for your application’s dependencies, and manage the resulting complex deployment process yourself.

For your data, Pantheon provides the basics: MySQL, Redis, and Solr.

Platform.sh gives you simple access to those services and myriad others, with no extra cost or complexity. You can snap in PostgreSQL, Kafka, Elasticsearch, RabbitMQ, Network Storage, worker processes, and more, with just a few lines of a yaml file. Learn more about configuring data services with Platform.sh.

4. Highly scalable and highly available

Platform.sh can provide “four nines” (99.99%) high-availability guarantees for mission-critical sites. That is less than seven minutes of downtime a month, and an SLA of less than an hour for urgent tickets. Platform.sh runs thousands of ecommerce sites and has extensive experience managing mission-critical applications. That’s why our approach to high availability isn’t based strictly on caching–we’ve designed triple-redundant architecture to ensure even transactional sites are fault-tolerant. Platform.sh can also scale up any site as needed when there is a surge of traffic, without downtime.

5. Drupal developers deserve tools for the way modern developers work

Platform.sh has been based around Git from the very beginning. We think of it as our main API. And, it drives collaboration across teams between devs and other stakeholders. Do you need a new environment to work on a feature or to fix a bug? It's as simple as:

git checkout -b new-idea

That's it.

One Git command, and Platform.sh clones your entire production app–data and all. That’s right, Platform.sh gives you new environments on demand, in moments.

Pantheon has a feature that's similar in concept called MultiDev, available as an option on higher support plans—but there are critical differences.

With Platform.sh, you can have as many dev/stage/test environments as you need. Pantheon limits you to a maximum of 10.

The Platform.sh workflow supports nested branches. This is great for teams, because it means you can group work by feature, team, or release. Whatever works for you. And you can push changes live from any branch. Each environment also has configurable access control for devs and viewers, and auto-generated (and free) SSL certificates.

Pantheon lets you do parallel dev work, but requires those changes to be synchronized through a single test/staging environment.

6. Deploy anytime

Because deploying to production is basically a git merge, and your team is developing on a perfect clone—including all the components and data of your [headless] Drupal site—you can be assured that what worked in dev is going to work in production. Our Deploy Friday motto isn’t just a marketing slogan; our customers live it. Learn more about therm.sh CI/CD process

7. Real integrations with GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, and anything else

Because Platform.sh has a robust API and supports custom webhooks, it's integrated with third-party tools you're probably already using, like GitLab, Bitbucket, and GitHub. Branches and pull requests created in those tools automatically generate (and clean up) environments in Platform.sh! That same API, coupled with our system of hooks and support for tools like Headless Chrome, gives you a robust continuous integration solution for Drupal and other technologies—again, at no extra cost.

With Pantheon, configuring a pull request driven workflow with GitHub, Bitbucket or GitLab requires manual creation of environments and their mapping to individual branches in your code management tool. Learn more about Platform.sh integrations.

The Platform.sh API isn't limited to managing your current Drupal projects. With just a few commands, you can create new projects across regions around the world. This is how Platform.sh partners like GoalGorilla build their own successful SaaS businesses (Open Social) with Drupal and Platform.sh. Learn more about the Platform.sh API and SaaS platform.

8. Platform.sh does Drupal best, at a lower cost

The most cost-effective host for your Drupal applications, Platform.sh doesn’t charge you for your success. (And that doesn’t even count the value of our continuous integration and deployment tools.) What does that mean?

Platform.sh was incubated as a tool to run high-volume Drupal commerce applications, which means the traffic is primarily “authenticated pageviews.” They’re difficult to cache and have to be served by Drupal directly, instead of a caching layer (including Content Delivery Networks [CDNs]). Therefore, our pricing model is based on capacity (in memory and CPU) to serve requests. We include CDN with our Enterprise solutions, and a caching layer (either viah or our own cache system) is provided for all Platform.sh projects.

In sharp contrast, Pantheon charges for every pageview and visit you serve. Why? Because they include a single CDN with every project, and that CDN provider’s cost model has to be accounted for. If you have a great month of traffic, you’re potentially looking at a larger invoice based on pageviews and visits. Let’s look at a quick example:

Pantheon’s Medium tier allows you up to 250,000 pages served per month—whether they’re served via CDN or not— at a Preferred price of $225/month.

On the other hand, the Platform.sh Professional Medium tier can serve 500,000 pageviews per month, uncached, at a price of $135/month. If your app is cacheable, you can serve far more, and we won’t charge you extra.

Professional
$135

Medium, Low traffic, multiple apps

  • 3 GB memory
  • Medium-to-higher traffic websites
  • Microservice apps or multidatabase apps
  • Suitable for around 500,000 monthly page views

Need a CDN? We can provide one, but you also have the choice to use the caching options that work best for your applications and budget.

Do you need to run tests, compile Sass, use Node.js-based tools as part of your build? Platform.sh handles all of that natively, too, rather than charging you more. You’ll have to account for using tools like CircleCI at $50/month or Codeship at $75/month (at minimum) in addition to your Pantheon hosting costs. Learn more about Platform.sh pricing.

9. Platform.sh does more than Drupal

Across organizations, it's rare for a single CMS to be adopted universally. There are many reasons for this: developer expertise, budget, and even internal politics. Supporting many languages and frameworks is good for us, and good for our customers. Real freedom comes from having a platform that can grow and shift with you as your needs evolve.

Platform.sh isn't exclusive to Drupal or WordPress by design. Instead, we let you run Drupal alongside your Node.js/Javascript app, Java, Python, and more at no extra cost. You can combine the front end and back end of your app in the same project, deployed automatically by us across our secure, containerized grid. Check out our complete list of supported runtimes in the Developers menu above.

With Platform.sh, you can use the best solution for every site you build and manage: WordPress? Our PHP support is peerless. Static Site Generators (SSGs)? Check out our examples with Hugo, Jekyll, and Gatsby. Java? Run CMS apps like Brightspot, or OSS stacks like Spring MVC and MongoDB. Pantheon is limited to WordPress and Drupal.

10. Platform.sh has Drupal expertise when you need it

Selecting the right platform for scalability is important, but sometimes your team will run into challenges. For that, we have a global team of support engineers spanning North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia.

Need hands-on support to keep your Drupal projects patched and secure? Platform.sh does that, too. Just ask us about Application Support.

11. Choice is good. That's why Platform.sh is multicloud.

Choosing which Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider to use can be a gamble, and once your die is cast, it's hard to switch. The same can be true of your hosting or PaaS provider. That's why most hosting providers like Pantheon work with only a single IaaS partner (in Pantheon’s case that’s Google).

Instead, Platform.sh makes it easy to use the IaaS provider that works best for your business, whether your choice is based on data locality for compliance, getting your application as close to your end users as possible, or simply preference. We can run your applications in the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Germany, and France.

Platform.sh works with four IaaS partners—Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Orange— to give you the most choices and global reach. And you can run the same code across all four of these platforms without making any changes.

Need a custom location? Let's talk.

We take security and compliance seriously. For some countries and companies, that means hosting locally too. Not only are we SOC 2 certified, we’re compliant with the CASL in Canada, and Germany’s BDSG and strict data locality and access rules.

Power. Simplicity. Freedom.

The best tools are the ones that fade into the background and let you get on with your work. Find out how we can help your organization focus, faster. Chat with our team now, or try out Platform.sh for free, below.

Launch your Drupal sites on Platform.sh.