How inRESONANCE Provides Nimble Drupal Development & Rapid Support on Pantheon

By standardizing on Pantheon, inRESONANCE saves hours of IT time a day, improving response times and freeing the team to innovate.

Summary

inRESONANCE (iR) is an industry leader of database and website solutions for independent schools. Through Schoolyard, iR is able to provide website development and hosting service to their client base. Currently, iR relies on the efficiency and ease of Pantheon's cloud development tools to build and manage over 100 Drupal sites.

inRESONANCE began in 1999 with a singular goal: to provide best in class software and support that empowers dedicated school professionals to transform their productivity. Supporting more than 500 schools in over 35 countries, iR’s database software provides solutions for enrollment, student management, development, and billing. 

As part of their quest to serve the independent education sector, inRESONANCE acquired website service Schoolyard in January of 2015. Schoolyard was designed to provide modular, customizable Drupal-based sites for schools.

At the time of acquisition, however, Schoolyard was experiencing a service and support bottleneck as it attempted to create an innovative product with a very advanced growth structure. Schoolyard sites were hosted on multiple platforms, none of which provided the flexibility and support that inRESONANCE’s development team required.

InRESONANCE’s Schoolyard manager Justin Wellman knew they needed a better solution to best serve their clients. “Supporting Drupal 6 sites and developing in Drupal 7 on different hosting environments was complicated. We were not equipped to handle the hosting and support of these Drupal sites in an effective way, at the level we demand of ourselves for our clients,” he said.

Wellman and Drupal Developer Sean Dietrich—along with the support of iR’s executive team—chose to standardize on Pantheon to reduce the IT burden on the development team, make support easier, and create a streamlined method of operating and updating Schoolyard sites.

We found Pantheon was best equipped to solve the issues that we were having. And we haven’t looked back since. 

—Justin Wellman, Schoolyard Manager, inRESONANCE

Before Pantheon: Stretched-Thin Support, Complex Management

When inRESONANCE first acquired Schoolyard, clients were hosted on multiple servers across three different companies. They were quickly running into a mounting server deployment, scalability, and support problem. “We had a small amount of people who could actually manage the servers,” Dietrich said, “It just became overwhelming.”

Wellman found himself serving as half of a two-person on-call support team. But when problems arose, it was challenging to investigate, diagnose and resolve the issue. Wellman would need to have Dietrich create a test environment and copy the malfunctioning code to it, before any work could begin. “I always felt like I had my hands tied behind by back,” Wellman said.

The lack of a standardized platform affected nearly every area of Dietrich’s workload. Maintaining backups, implementing updates, and pushing sites from Dev to Live all required extra time and effort. With so much technical overhead, it was challenging to continue developing the Schoolyard platform to better serve clients.

Chief Technology Officer Charlie Bailey recognized that inRESONANCE needed a way to simplify their workflow, standardize their environment, and free the development team from testing and implementation tasks. As a result, he began investigating alternative solutions. Wellman and Dietrich were both familiar with Pantheon professionally, and had positive experiences with the platform in the past. Still, the team continued researching other solutions before making a decision. In the end, Wellman said, “The Dev-Test-Live workflow really sold it for me. It’s allowed us to be much more efficient and effective at our jobs.”

Migrating to Pantheon: The Fast Track to a Better Workflow

The inRESONANCE team chose to standardize on Pantheon—they committed to moving all existing Schoolyard sites to Pantheon and developing future sites on the platform as well. That commitment qualified inRESONANCE for the Agency Fast Track Program. Pantheon sent a team to their office to provide on-site training, workflow consultation, and migration support.

For Wellman, the training they received was indispensable. The Pantheon team started with inRESONANCE’s existing workflow, listening as the team talked through the complicated, piecemeal process. Then they helped optimize that workflow and map it to the Pantheon platform. “They cut out so much unnecessary stuff in our process; that allowed us to be much more streamlined. That was really, really valuable,” Wellman said.

With Pantheon: Support, Efficiency, Symmetry

Standardizing on Pantheon proved to be a powerful time-saving solution for the support inRESONANCE offers clients. With Multidev, Wellman and his team can easily create test environments to explore issues that arise, pulling in the code without having to go through the dev team. Wellman estimates that functionality alone saves his team two to three hours a day, and enables his team to be far more responsive to client requests.

Multidev also helps take the IT burden off of Dietrich and the rest of the dev team. The site building team can create their own test environments, selectively allow client access, and control the flow of the entire project without having to schedule time with the dev team. The new streamlined workflow can save multiple days on each project.

The overarching benefit of standardizing on Pantheon, Wellman said, is the ability to provide symmetry in their business model. With Pantheon’s Custom Upstreams, Schoolyard can offer the same features for every client in a uniform fashion. They have a consistent start state for each new project—empowering non-developer team members to easily spin up new sites—while also having the ability to incorporate unique modules for specific sites as needed.

“Before Upstreams, it was almost a full time job just to apply security and module updates,” Wellman said. “Now we can roll these changes out to all sites at once and spend our time developing new features and functionality.”

This standardization offers economies of scale and efficiency while still providing a top-notch service for inRESONANCE’s clients. “Our clients are able to get support in a much faster way. We know there’s a standard set of functionality and we’re able to support that much more effectively,” Wellman said.

Growing with Pantheon: From Reactive to Proactive

Dietrich is reclaiming time he used to spend on infrastructure to develop the core Schoolyard product. Rather than managing servers, he’s able to focus on doing what he does best: writing and implementing beautiful Drupal code.

Pantheon gives me more time in the day. It gives me back a lot of time I didn’t have before, so I can develop the core product.

—Sean Dietrich, Drupal Developer, inRESONANCE

A more efficient and effective team gives Wellman the opportunity to look beyond day-to-day operations and plan the future of the Schoolyard platform. He plans to continue exploring how his team can use Pantheon’s tools for better client communication, even more responsive support, and continued development of the core product.

Most importantly, the whole team has the time and information necessary to make well-thought-out decisions about the future. As Wellman puts it, “We’re moving away from flying by the seat of our pants to being proactive and thinking ahead.”

Is your agency ready to standardize on Pantheon? Learn more about Agency Fast Track. Or create a free account to explore the platform for yourself.

Benefits

  • Multidev saves 2-3 hours a day of developer time

  • Upstream workflow saves 2-3 days of work on each project

  • Standardization makes development, implementation, and updates more efficient

  • More stability, faster response times, and a better product for clients

  • Freedom to proactively shape the future of their product