If you’re making improvements to your sites, even as simple as pushing updates, you’re going to be changing things around. Inevitably, you’ll break something. Wouldn’t you like to find that out before the production site goes down from the “improvements”?

That’s the logic behind automated build/ test/ deploy pipelines. As soon as you make a change, the pipeline tests the change to see if it still works the way you want it to. If it works, great! If not, also great! You know right away and can go tweak it or change it back. All of this happens on test servers, far from the public eye.

However, many people still deploy updates directly to production. It makes a certain kind of sense: If you only have one site - the live one - then that’s where everything has to happen. And with just one site, it’s unlikely that building out a dev and stage environment in-house will have a positive ROI, so why put resources into making one? But outages mean people can’t access your storefront, potential partners can’t learn about you, and you can’t share your story with the world.

Where does that leave an organization that can’t afford unplanned outages on their site, but they also can’t afford to put resources toward building out deployment infrastructure? Fortunately, today there are more options to get away from the risky deploy-on-prod pattern.

Managed hosting services are familiar to most organizations with a web presence, but they can vary widely in what they promise. For example, let’s look at backup policies: some hosting providers, like Freelock, do redundant backups of your site every single day so that you can recover quickly in the case of a hack. Many offerings don’t do automated backups, or if they do it’s only on a monthly basis, and they only save it to one place (NOT redundant). Similarly, most hosting being offered doesn’t include access to a deployment pipeline where you can make changes safely and test them before you put them in front of the public. Freelock does. The value of an automated pipeline is measured in avoided downtime, peace of mind, and the ability to try things that others can’t for fear of “breaking it”. Think that a new interactive plugin would increase donations by 10%, but you’re scared to death to touch anything? Want to add a video of a recent talk your organization gave at a national conference, but you don’t know how? When you work with partners like Freelock, you can take those chances without putting your site at risk. You can give the intern the login credentials to make changes, rather than hire an agency with long lead times and high rates to tweak a thing or two.

If you’re ready to start using your site to its full potential, call us today at 206-577-0540.

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