Managing snowflakes at scale: A multisite service architecture in higher education.

The central IT organization at The University of Iowa maintains over 450 websites, in two models- a free “standard service” and a cost recovery “custom service”. This session aims to cover some of the unique aspects of running the two services with a team of seven developers.

Additionally, our university is in the final stages of a 650+ Drupal site migration from on-premise hosting to Acquia Cloud, so we aim to discuss some of the service architecture changes we made as the service moved to the cloud.


  • Service model overview - a hybrid cost recovery model balancing enhancements for the entire service and department-specific development.
  • Service technical architecture - How we moved from Jenkins and custom python deployment scripts to Acquia Pipelines and Symfony to assemble Drupal core, our installation profiles, and our custom developed sites.
  • How we manage the deployment of the two base codebases and the hundred or so custom sites.
  • Multisite considerations: Why our multisite architecture works for us, but may not work for every organization.
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