Axéréal, a key international player in agriculture, has to handle numerous websites for its subsidiaries and cooperatives. Putting them online used to be time-consuming, and problems related to the original system architecture consistently made the teams' lives difficult. Tired of having to patch a series of bugs, website by website, the Group decided to pass the task of hosting on to Koriolis, an agency specializing in Drupal website factories and taking advantage of Platform.sh's PaaS solution.
Take your website problems, and multiple by 21
Axéréal, which has many subsidiaries and lines of business, has to keep no less than 21 different websites running at the same speed for all its subsidiaries in France and abroad. These days, fleet management has become customary for corporations. Some of them manage thousands, or even tens of thousands of different websites. Website fleet management, with its capacity for quickly cloning websites, is different from classic multi-site management, which requires more time and resources.
Axéréal's numerous websites represent the company's main technical constraint, in what is otherwise a fairly simple situation: The websites' technical platforms are identical, it's only their graphics that are different. However, this never kept the website updates from being a tedious, site by site task, with all the various problems that come with it, until now. Since they were all on the same server, if one website was down it could cause problems on the other websites as well, which required that the hosting provider be contacted regularly.
Since Drupal version 7 was nearing end-of-life, Axéréal came to the conclusion that grouping its websites would be more efficient. To do so, the company would need to modify its entire hosting system and upgrade to Drupal 9. The goal was to duplicate the parent website every time, keeping changes minimal, to keep costs down. “That didn't keep us from continuing to use the websites, updating them and making changes,” explains Anaïs Renvoizé, Web & Event Manager at Axéréal, who is in charge of all the Group's websites.
How Koriolis and Platform.sh went straight to the heart of the issue
Koriolis, an agency specializing in Drupal, is an eight-person company popular with both SMEs and major corporations, particularly for high-traffic websites. Its focus is development, and its trademark is the absence of infrastructure administration. To achieve this, it relies on Platform.sh's PaaS (Platform as a Service) solution, which makes it possible to integrate hosting directly into the code.
The first step was to increase memory and duplicate the new structure across all websites. According to Sébastien Lissarrague, founder of Koriolis, “With Platform.sh's expertise, all we had to do was factorize the Drupal code, modify it on a single website, and redeploy it to the 15 others.”
Now, Axéréal only has to provide website mockups to Koriolis. “It gives us consistency across all our websites, even when a specific feature development is required for one site, or for a few. That means that the HR module deployed on several different sites is identical,” says Renvoizé.
Time saved, transparency increased
The Web Manager used to have to call the hosting provider regularly to handle emergencies, but those days are over. “Now, everything is transparent and accessible. We can test modifications as we go. Before, every little hiccup caused a chain reaction across all our websites. Now, when a problem comes up, we can handle it quickly and definitively. We move forward and stabilize.”
In terms of time saved on maintenance, and the resulting increase in productivity, the before and after are very clear. According to Sébastien Lissarague at Koriolis, “Platform.sh has allowed us to automate everything and manage an entire fleet of websites much more effectively.” It used to take half a day to put a website online. Now it only takes a few minutes. Schematically, instead of 5 steps — hosting, development, preproduction, verification and production — now Koriolis just has to put its code, data and static files in Platform.sh. Once that's done, most of the work is finished, and the website can be deployed.
While it is almost time to upgrade to Drupal 10, frequent updates are no longer an issue for Axéréal's 21 websites. “It's all thanks to Platform.sh and Koriolis, they go hand in hand for us,” says Renvoizé.
A summary of the seven advantages of the Axéréal x Koriolis x Platform.sh partnership
- The time saved, and the agility to develop and administer the website fleet.
- Security, with immediate solutions for all websites at the same time
- Mastery of the complexity caused by the number of websites: everything, from infrastructure to applications, to manage over a dozen websites. “We don't spend all our time in meetings. Everything is very contained,” says Sébastien Lissarague of Koriolis.
- Co-management of the fleet of websites
- Continuous improvement