University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine Builds and Maintains Portfolio of Sites with WebOps

A century old leader in health research and innovation leverages Pantheon and WebOps to streamline management of over 35 websites.



  • Standardize site design with a custom Drupal Distro
  • Launch new sites using Custom Upstreams
  • Automate site updates using Terminus


Why Pantheon

  • New sites are configured and launched without IT support
  • Automation reduces human error and maintenance costs
  • Distro provides brand adherence and content flexibility



  • Effective management of over 35 unique Faculty of Medicine sites
  • New site configurations, launches, and support handled by a single manager
  • 60% reduction in maintenance costs


When Roberta Brown, Digital Communications Specialist, joined the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Communications, she knew the school's expectations for excellence and innovation extended to her new role, which had responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the school’s online brand and managing the websites that make up its online presence. Brown’s first assignment was to revamp the Faculty of Medicine’s flagship website.


Discovery Commons quickly learned that three sites meant 3X the time required for maintenance and support. As the demand for new sites continued to surge, the team decided to rebuild those sites using a Drupal Distribution (or Distro), which remained consistent and was easier to launch. Then, over the next two years, three sites grew into 20, and Discovery Commons found itself managing all these sites, rather than fulfilling its core mission—engineering new solutions for the Faculty of Medicine.

The Approach

A critical step toward getting maintenance and support costs (and the time spent on them) under control was a move to Pantheon’s WebOps platform. This provided the right combination of Version Control for deploying code, replicable Dev, Test & Live environments, and a command-line tool—Terminus—that could be used to automate deployments.

“We know that a project without Pantheon will need extra hours to set up workflows…that’s time that isn’t spent working on features.”

—Aidan Foster, Foster Interactive

Foster Interactive also employed Pantheon’s Custom Upstream tool to create an archetypical site that could share changes with all the other sites in the Distro. As new features, core updates or fixes were rolled out on the Upstream, all of the other independent sites in Distro became aware of and could inherit the changes.


“With the move to Pantheon, I’m completely independent,” says Brown. “I don’t have to wait for anyone. I don’t have to be in the office or be on a VPN to get to the server. I go in, set up my site and I’m off to the races.”

—Roberta Brown, University of Toronto

The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, together with Foster Interactive, were successful in orchestrating the rollout and subsequent management of over 35 distinct sites, and in reducing their maintenance costs by a whopping 60 percent. Today, the Office of Communication single-handedly launches new sites for the Faculty of Medicine and supports dozens of unique and complex sites, while maintaining consistent brand standards. Using Pantheon WebOps tools, Foster Interactive is able to develop new site features, as needed, and maintain client sites leveraging Upstreams and the power of automation.

Download the full University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine case study here.

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