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Managed Updates: Say “Yes” to Open Source and Focus on Results

With Managed Updates, your website will never run an out-of-date version of WordPress or Drupal again. Choose from our Lite, Premium, and Portfolio offerings. 

Managed Updates

I’m thrilled to announce Pantheon is now offering Managed Updates for both WordPress and Drupal. This release has been nearly a year in the making, and stems directly from our strategic acquisition of StagingPilot last May.

The core benefit of Managed Updates is that your website will never run an out-of-date version of WordPress or Drupal again, including contributed open source plugins or modules. Our offering is unique in the market in that it leverages a sophisticated Visual Regression Testing (VRT) approach to quality assurance. This provides customers a high degree of confidence, and is fully managed and supported by Pantheon’s team.

Managed Updates is available in three flavors:

  1. Lite: This is our base offering, designed to suit the common case and budget. It's an affordable solution for customers who just want to set it and forget it.

  2. Premium: This service includes customized testing, workflows, and builds. It's best for highly complex sites or in cases where Managed Updates is running in parallel with an active dev team.

  3. Portfolio: This solution is designed to complement our Upstreams offering. It is for customers looking to cover a larger number of sites sharing a common codebase.

We’re also able to mix and match these flavors as a bundle, so no matter what the size and shape of your portfolio, we’ve got you covered.

Starting The WebOps Journey

Managed Updates bridges a key gap for people as they start their WebOps journey, which really begins with a quality CMS implementation. Our research suggests that as many as 50% of marketing teams lack the confidence to operate their own CMS and publish in real time. Others simply aren’t allowed, and have to work through a specialized sub-team or even go to engineering to publish or update content.

Often that’s because they’re stuck with an outmoded enterprise tool, a website that’s wedded to their product, or some kind of home-brewed platform cooked up by an internal (or contract) dev team a few years back. Maybe they’re on an open source CMS, but it’s an aging implementation that hasn’t kept pace with the business—likely because the roadmap for making any functional or design changes has to go through IT, and they’re stuck waiting for the next big relaunch.

Whatever the reason, the desired outcome should be clear: the marketing org needs to strategically own their website tech. For the vast majority of use-cases, WordPress and/or Drupal are excellent tools for the job. These open source CMSs are used by millions, and there are literally tens of thousands of digital agencies and hundreds of thousands of freelancers that can help deliver a high quality implementation. But historically, there’s been one big problem...

Realizing the Full Potential of Open Source

Open Source is, as they say, “free as in puppies.” The main benefit isn’t the zero license fee, but rather the freedom and control that come with really owning the digital experience. The problem is that there’s a ton of operational complexity that comes along with that ownership. Without a strong WebOps capability, would-be users can be deterred from leveraging an open source CMS in the first place, or find that they’re falling short of the ROI they wanted.

Managed Updates allows customers without dedicated technical resources to confidently say “Yes” to WordPress or Drupal, depending on their use-case. It also allows those with on-staff developers (or an agency) to take the equivalent of digital janitorial work off their plate, and focus on driving real results. 

Making the Open Web a First Class Platform

The launch of Managed Updates  advances Pantheon's mission to make the open web a first class platform that delivers results. It does this in three ways:

  • Increases adoption of open source CMS by lowering risk and total cost of ownership

  • Moves humans up the stack by automating the drudge work of website smoketesting

  • Unlocks the potential of the open web by focusing technical resources strategically

With Managed Updates Pantheon takes one of the most common objections to choosing WordPress and Drupal off the table. However, it’s important to note we’re not trying to compete with our agency partners.

This release is primarily about eliminating the objection/risk that comes up around coverage. We're not in competition with agencies who are building recurring revenue streams out of long-term support and maintenance, much like our 24/7/365 on-call support isn’t meant to compete with agencies offering direct client support.  

This is the answer when people ask “what if all the devs are on vacation?” It's a solution when a customer is struggling to manage multiple vendors, or when they (and their agency) want to focus on strategic value vs baseline maintenance.

What Comes Next

There’s more on the horizon. While this release focuses on customers who require a managed service approach — where Pantheon takes ultimate responsibility for the updates — we are also developing a self-service offering for technical teams that would benefit from a VRT practice themselves. 

This next release will serve customers and agency partners who want to invest in an internal Visual Regression Testing practice to ensure their (or their clients’) sites are up to date. By making the same core technology we use for Managed Updates directly available to them, we estimate we can give their internal teams 10x efficiency or more in self-managing these processes.

Our vision as a WebOps platform means bringing the same value to CMS maintenance as we have delivered further down the stack. In the same way our serverless approach lets customers uplevel or reallocate their sysadmin time to more strategic goals, we want to liberate web developers from any and all “keeping the lights on” kind of work, so they can be focus on being creative partners in driving growth.

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Topics Growth & Scale