Announcing New Pantheon Upstream Workflow

Today we’re happy to announce that we’ve opened up our Pantheon Upstreams workflow to be self-serve and available to all organizations using our website management platform. Upstreams have been a valuable tool for our partner agencies and enterprise clients for quite some time; allowing them to build scalable solutions and maintain a large network of sites. We believe this is a benefit that any organization managing more than just a few sites should take advantage of.

So what makes our upstreams workflow so valuable for organizations? In short, it gives you the ability to build site templates while allowing for customizations later. By definition, a Custom Upstream is a repository restricted to members of a specific Pantheon organization containing a common codebase for new sites. This type of repository is a child repository to a Pantheon Core Upstream (WordPress, Drupal 8, Drupal 7) and acts as a parent for site level repositories. Organizations can start, update, and maintain thousands of related sites from a single repository with the ability to customize sites downstream—all the open source flexibility you want, without maintenance nightmares.

Pantheon Upstreams

Standardized, Reusable Start States

A Custom Upstream acts as a scaffold for new sites on Pantheon. Once you’ve built an Upstream, you can spin up new sites instantly with preferred sets of code, modules/plugins, and integrations pre-configured with Drupal or WordPress core.

Developers can continue evolving and improving their organization's preferred starting point for sites, easily distributing these changes down to all projects started from the Custom Upstream. This allows junior developers and non-technical stakeholders the freedom to kick off new web projects from the template you’ve already built without taxing your senior resources, while also staying connected to ongoing innovation.  

Scale Site Management

Custom Upstreams don’t just free up developer time, they also establish a long term, scalable process for updates and support across massive site portfolios that continue to grow. New features and functionality can be continuously developed in the upstream repository, then distributed to each site, where site owners can hold responsibility for applying them without worry of impacting other sites.

You can also push out mass updates as a centralized process with all the flexibility modern software release practice requires: release early to a canary group, allow some sites to opt into a beta channel, and hold back highly valuable or sensitive sites until any kinks have been worked out of the process. Skip the risk of portfolio-wide downtime. Compared to monolithic “one shot” updates across a whole portfolio of sites, it’s a breath of fresh air for everyone.

Build Platforms, Not Sites

The biggest benefit we see in Custom Upstreams is the ability for agencies and large organizations to think differently about their site portfolios and the relationships between all sites. By leveraging common, reusable code with Custom Upstreams you are able to think about capabilities and features that are core to your business and brand, while still having the flexibility to make customizations to individual sites that need it.

Countless agencies on Pantheon have pitched this capability to win large scale projects—growing their business and moving open source upmarket—all without needing to expand their current set of development resources. Take a look at how Forum One used Custom Upstreams as a key part of their pitch to win a client trying to manage more than 200 sites.  

To opt-in your organization and start using Custom Upstreams, go to your organization’s dashboard and select the Upstreams tab. Click ‘opt-in’, view our guide, and get started!


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Topics Agencies, Multisite, Website Technology, Digital Agencies, Development, Growth & Scale, Drupal, WordPress

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