USS Enterprise on Pantheon

By John Ouellet,

Greetings. I'm Kalabot John, and this is my journey with Kettering University and Pantheon Systems.

Kettering University became a Kalacare client of Kalamuna in June of 2013. Kettering is located in Flint, Michigan and has roughly 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students total. In the past (when they were the General Motors Institute of Technology), they were primarily an Engineering college. However, with the times they have matured into a small university offering a variety of Science Majors.

Their Drupal 7 site was about 20k nodes, 3k users, ~5GB in total size, 150 modules, etc. Before considering the Pantheon migration, Kalamuna assisted in performing some general clean-up tasks, such as module upgrades, ensuring a best-practices directory structure, and moving custom functionality into Drupal modules. Kalamuna also made certain portions of the site easier to administer by re-building pages using Panels.

Kettering had a workflow familiar to us from working with other universities: 2 in-house servers, hosting a production and a test environment. There was no easy way to stage work between the two, so getting content on either was done the old school way: SFTP. This had proven to be a bottle neck for any new features that Kettering wanted to deliver.

When Kalamuna took on Kettering University, we made a test site on Pantheon to develop and test new features and support-related tasks. Kettering loved the ease of Pantheon's use and the possibility of saving on internal hosting costs. So it was decided in early October that Kettering would go onto the Enterprise level of Pantheon. Documents were signed, people got involved, and the process began in early November 2013.

Moving a site onto Pantheon's Enterprise level of service is not like migrating your typical site to their happy platform.

For a successful enterprise-level migration, a lot of scrutinity takes place and at times it can be fairly nerve-wracking to redo portions of the site just to move it; however, this is necessary to achieve great performance.

As the process began, Pantheon provided a site audit docket that displayed what needed to be done before we went live. Some Modules were removed, 404 pages were painstakingly fixed, and that began to address some of the issues.

The 2 biggest problems with Kettering's migration was the caching/aggregation of CSS and LDAP Setup. Several modules (like Views DD block) had been modified to insert CSS. When CSS aggregation was turned on, these modifications annihilated the layout of any content utilizing this module. Updating these modules to stable versions and fixing other modules like Blocks enabled successful CSS aggregation.

LDAP was the next biggest hurdle. Our efforts alongside Kettering IT to connect a new LDAP server were being thwarted at every turn, even when replicating the same configuration that worked on the production LDAP servers. Many conversations and support tickets went back and forth until the whole situation came to a standstill. Pantheon had been a tremendous help in the matter and it seemed the new server was communicating with Pantheon, but in Drupal we kept getting a 500 error. On a whim, Kalamuna used some grep magic and saw that the Drupal Authentication portion of LDAP had inserted into a BLOB in the DB the old server name and login creds. This was addressed with script magic and voilà: LDAP worked happily. The last hurdle had been overcome.

The holidays had hit and in that time Kalamuna finished up some other small performance tasks and wrote 2 small custom modules to handle some old PERL functions. Snowmageddon hit the Northern US right after the holidays so we were delayed again. However, when everything thawed, we went live on January 11th, 2014. It was a seamless transition at this point and all is currently well.

If your website is in need of migrating to Pantheon systems, look no further than Kalamuna. We have successfully migrated dozens and dozens of sites to Pantheon, and would be happy to do the same for yours.

Ninja vanish. POOF.

John Ouellet

Director of Support

This support engineer was sent back in time to promote and serve Kalamuna. John wasn't manufactured with emotions - just a hardcoded desire for domination. With decades of actual programming experience, you can be assured that he actually knows what he's talking about, and that he won't waste your time with fluff and nonsense.