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It's Looking Cool in the Cloud: Our Latest Pilots

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What do you get when you combine a premier cloud-computing powerhouse with University IT’s preferred web content management system? University IT (UIT) set out to discover just that when we joined Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) flexible and robust cloud-hosting platform with the popular Drupal web content management system. The result is our most powerful web publishing service yet: Stanford Drupal on Anchorage.

First Anchorage

Anchorage is the service name for a new platform UIT is piloting for delivering web-based services.

"While our existing platform meets the needs of most of the campus community, we want to support other colleagues whose websites and web applications require greater performance and flexibility," said Bruce Vincent, director of UIT's Emerging Technologies group. "We needed to build a trusted central service that met those higher-end needs rather than leaving our colleagues to work individually with vendors."

Leveraging AWS, UIT created a fast, extremely flexible, and highly reliable, secure server platform for running web applications in the cloud. Among its features:

  • Automation — spinning up the infrastructure for a new server takes minutes rather than the days or weeks required with traditional servers
  • Performance — maintaining acceptable performance by increasing and decreasing capacity dynamically based on guidelines you set, allows you to seamlessly meet the demands of peak periods
  • Availability — duplicating the service in three geo-diverse locations ensures your application remains up in the event of a failure at one or two of the locations; backing up and storing application data in two geo-diverse locations provides an additional level of safety
  • Monitoring — the platform infrastructure is monitored by UIT’s IT Operations Center 24x7

Add Stanford Drupal

In our initial Anchorage pilot, we are addressing high-end web publishing needs by testing Stanford Drupal on Anchorage. This allows pilot participants to host websites with high availability and performance requirements. One of the key pilot participants is University Human Resources, which worked with Stanford Web Services to build and launch HR's new Cardinal at Work website in the new platform. Launched last fall in time for benefits open enrollment, visitors had a smooth experience with the website during this critical period — a key performance goal for Stanford Drupal on Anchorage service. (Read more about this project on the UIT website.)

When released for broader use, Stanford Drupal on Anchorage will provide a platform with more individual flexibility and high-end performance than Stanford's free publishing platforms intended to serve the more common needs of the broader web publishing community.

H&S partnership

UIT continues to advance Stanford Drupal on Anchorage in partnership with the School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S). They were looking for a web publishing platform that met their increasingly sophisticated website needs matched with on-campus partners for infrastructure and application support.

"H&S is excited about the potential for Stanford Drupal on Anchorage to improve performance, scalability, and business continuity for our department and program websites," said Jon Pilat, director of information technology for H&S.

Learn more

To learn more about Anchorage or Stanford Drupal on Anchorage, contact Sara Worrell-Berg.

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