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How Website Technology Changed in 2014

It’s been a seminal year for web technology. In an established industry like ours, there’s often a gap between those first inklings of progress and the point at which major players feel the impact. But make no mistake, what changed in 2014 will have dramatic implications for the future of our industry.

Drupal and WordPress are finally being recognized as winners.

Gartner is now betting that more than half of all corporate sites will run on open source content management systems by 2017.

Why is this such a big deal? Until recently, there have essentially been two categories of website technology. One was the world of “WCM” vendors, reported on by analysts who helped enterprise buyers navigate the market. The other grew organically from the world of web technology, where the widespread adoption of open source content management systems has been the dominant story for the past five years.

Today, the second conversation is taking center stage. WordPress and Drupal, the industry’s current open source front runners, power more than half of all websites that use a CMS. The majority of professional website designers and developers have standardized on one of the two over the last several years. There are hundreds of expert developers for Adobe CQ and Sitecore. There are hundreds of thousands for WordPress and Drupal.

The adoption of Drupal and WordPress as the web standard for sites of any size and caliber is the biggest change to the industry of the past decade. Well-known analysts are now recognizing this shift.

Containers went mainstream.

The biggest story in cloud computing this past year has been the adoption of container technology over virtual machines.

Containers have gone from an experimental Linux technology, to front and center in the battle for cloud computing supremacy. GoogleAmazonIBM, and Rackspace have all announced their container strategies following the lead of container startups Docker and CoreOS. We’ve been early advocates for containers, having seen firsthand the dramatic benefits they can bring to cloud platforms, and it’s been great to see that industry has caught on.

The website technology market has a huge amount to gain by leveraging containers. In fact, we believe that containers enable the next sea change in our market after the mass adoption of WordPress and Drupal—the rise of website management platforms over DIY infrastructure.

Cloud is finally coming to the website industry. And that doesn’t mean just moving internal hosting to external “cloud” infrastructure providers like EC2 (and all the manual sysadmin work that goes along with it). Cloud in the website market will take the form of an entirely new class of container-based platforms used to build, launch, and run websites.

Agile digital marketing finds an unlikely ally—security.

Great marketing leaders obsess over time to market. Teams are learning to iterate faster and faster on the web—they’re using tools that help them outsource and automate, launching projects in weeks instead of months.

This stands at odds with the traditional approach of IT management. There has always been tension between marketers who are focused on agility and IT’s imperative of security and risk mitigation, especially when it comes to the shared responsibility of managing websites. This tension has been growing steadily for some time, but events this past year have pushed it past the breaking point. 2014 was the year of HeartbleedShellshockDrupalgeddon, and Sony’s very public IT security breach—and these events changed the game.

Modern IT teams move fast and they limit their surface area. This requires smartly leveraging external cloud providers that are equipped to handle security events at internet speed. In the case of website management platforms there’s an added benefit—marketers get the tools to collaborate, iterate, and speed up development to meet the new standards for time-to-market and product launches.

There’s magic happening here, and it’s that security initiatives from the technical side and growth initiatives from the marketing side are converging—accelerating the adoption of cloud instead of impeding it.

What about next year? We’re placing our bets.

The technology industry changes radically, and often changes quickly. When we launched Pantheon in 2012, practically nobody knew what a container was. Now we have over one million containers deployed and are getting ready to launch our 100,000th site.

The web is the world’s most powerful communication medium. Radical improvements to the technology that fuels it will be a great thing for everybody, and especially rewarding for those who spend their working lives making it.

The ecosystem of website management has changed tremendously and we're excited to talk about it. Matt Stodolnic, VP of Marketing & Alliances, and I will be presenting our predictions for web teams in 2015 on Thursday, January 15th. Don't forget to register for the webinar.

At Pantheon we feel the pace of change accelerating first hand. We’ve grown more than 10x in revenues and 5x in size over the past two years, and raised a Series B to enable us to place even bigger bets on the future of website technology. We couldn’t be more excited about the future.

Topics Drupal, Education, WordPress

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