Clockwork Takes a Fast Track to WordPress and Drupal Domination with Pantheon

Pantheon empowers Clockwork to offer exceptional service to their clients without stressing about infrastructure.

Summary

Clockwork is an interactive design and technology agency. Pantheon makes it easy for them to offer clients a CMS that will best suit their individual needs.

In order to best serve its clients, Clockwork developed a custom CMS, with a datacenter specialized to their platform’s requirements. But when the agency wanted to expand their offering to include Drupal and WordPress solutions, they needed a partner that could replicate their in-house consistency and high level of service.

At first, Clockwork built custom infrastructure for each Drupal or WordPress client. That satisfied the agency’s desire to offer the best fit for clients, but added substantial overhead to each new project.

With Pantheon, Clockwork saw a way to be as proficient in WordPress and Drupal as they were with their proprietary software. They could offer clients a flexible hosting solution that saved infrastructure-building headaches.

Through Pantheon’s Agency Fast Track program, Clockwork was able to quickly transform its DevOps team into a multi-CMS powerhouse. Now the team can rely on Pantheon for a high-quality Drupal and WordPress website management platform, and more: development workflow, access control, and monitoring functionality all help Clockwork maintain their high quality of service.

We see Pantheon as a way for us to have all of this awesome infrastructure without having to build it anew for every client.

—Jay Haase, Tech Lead, Clockwork

Clockwork homepage screenshot

Before Pantheon: High Infrastructure Overhead

Clockwork’s datacenter was heavily specialized to the team’s custom CMS. The team wanted to continue using their CMS when it fit the client’s needs, but wanted to offer more solutions as needed for different projects. It would have taken a significant investment of time and resources to offer the same high level of service with WordPress and Drupal as Clockwork could offer on their own CMS.

To solve the problem, Clockwork let clients take the lead in selecting third-party hosting solutions. Understandably, some gravitated to services promising low monthly rates, but lacking mission-critical functionality the team would then have to build.

“As the teams were doing more of their own DevOps work, we were challenged to effectively explain how much extra resourcing and cost would be associated with managing that type of infrastructure,” Tech Lead Jay Haase says.

Clockwork began to develop a set of requirements that would carry over the best practices from its own systems and apply them to Drupal and WordPress. And they started to look for a partner that could meet them.

We try to partner with our clients to provide the solution they need, not just the solution we want to give them. For Drupal & WordPress, Pantheon is the clear choice for both parties.

—Jay Haase, Tech Lead, Clockwork

Choosing Pantheon: Smoothing Out Migration Woes

A particularly tricky migration provided the catalyst for Clockwork to make a change. The client had three sites hosted on its own infrastructure, all of which needed migration from ColdFusion to Drupal.

The team found they had to build custom tools to do even basic development. The time, work, and frustration combined to compel Clockwork to seek a better way. After researching a few options, Clockwork recommended Pantheon to the client. The client agreed, the difficult tasks at hand became much easier, and Clockwork began to wonder what else Pantheon could do for them.

We have requirements that match what Pantheon offers. So we can say, ‘If you use Pantheon, there won’t be any additional hours developing that infrastructure.’ We’d rather spend our time on client work than building up infrastructure.

—Hank Kiedrowski, Director of Product, Clockwork

Clockwork building from outside

Learning Pantheon: A Fast Track to Confidence and Trust

Clockwork signed up for the Agency Fast Track program to make sure their teams would get the most utility out of the platform. Pantheon’s experts flew out for a site visit and were able to help the Clockwork team with a few challenging migrations.

Pantheon held introductory meetings for every department, explaining what the platform is designed to do and how best to use it. They also fielded tough questions from the dev team. For Haase, those Q&A sessions were crucial to getting the entire team on board. “It was key that Pantheon had really technical people here, so our devs could ask really detailed questions,” Haase said. “That helped build understanding and trust in the system.”

Once the team saw how easy it was to spin up new sites, they were off and running. “Because it was so easy to get a site up and running, some of our own processes could be streamlined,” Haase says. “We had to catch up with how easy it was to create sites.”

With Pantheon: Freedom and Flexibility for the Client’s Best Fit

Clockwork strives to give each client the solution that truly best suits their needs. For Drupal and WordPress sites, Clockwork isn’t shy about presenting Pantheon as that best fit. “We’re not muddying the conversation for the client,” Kiedrowski says. “We already have the solution worked out. It lets us get to the heart of the project sooner and clears up those initial conversations.”

Pantheon’s Multidev feature has led Clockwork to explore new ways of working for and with clients. Multidev makes it possible to partner with other agencies, each playing to their strengths without worrying about getting in each other’s way.

Not only that, Clockwork can invite clients to the dev environment, let them see how the platform works and even have them spin up test sites. According to Haase, that can be habit-forming: “Clients who start messing around in there start finding reasons to migrate more sites onto Pantheon,“ he says.

The dev team is also excited to work with New Relic (included in every Pantheon account). With New Relic, they can provide an elevated level of monitoring and service for every client, without having to build custom solutions every time.

Clockwork has always been able to offer exceptional service with their proprietary CMS. When the clients’ needs indicated Drupal or WordPress, Clockwork needed a solution that would offer the same level of service without incurring hours of infrastructure-building. With Pantheon, Clockwork expanded their skill set, tools, and capabilities, making the agency an even better fit for clients of every type.

Pantheon lets us use our web app expertise while we explore new areas.

—Jay Haase, Tech Lead, Clockwork


To find out how Pantheon can help your agency do more of what it does best, check out Pantheon for Agencies.

Benefits

  • Infrastructure that meets their exacting requirements

  • Multidev workflow allows safe and productive collaboration

  • New Relic makes it easy to provide support