28 November 2018
Salsa Digital

Media release: 102 GovCMS SaaS sites now live on next-generation open platform

102 GovCMS sites are now live on the new GovCMS platform, having moved from the Acquia-hosted platform to a Salsa Digital and platform. This migration is a major project milestone and marks the official launch of the second-generation GovCMS platform.

“What a great outcome for Australian government — a whole-of-government digital platform built on the latest disruptive technologies and fully open source," said Alfred Deeb, Salsa Digital Founder and Director. “What makes this even better is that GovCMS has built on the great work of Victoria's Single Digital Presence project. They've invested further, and given it back to the global community so everyone can benefit. Open source at its best.”

The new platform is fully open source and introduces many cutting-edge web technologies such as continuous integration (CI), containerisation, self-healing, horizontal and vertical scaling, and significant automation. The new GovCMS also features a dedicated and unified helpdesk run by Salsa and This removes the helpdesk burden from the Australian government, saving them time and resources.

“The new Lagoon-based platform will deliver many benefits to government agencies,” said Michael Schmid, Co-founder and CTO. “The open source stack delivers more freedom and flexibility in terms of how the platform is set up and will evolve. The new technical enhancements will also deliver big benefits and are one of the key reasons the Department of Finance chose the Salsa/ solution. For example, the automation of many key processes will reduce the amount of time the Department of Finance needs to spend managing the GovCMS platform.”

The migration process itself was fully automated, making it a one-click migration process for each site. However, in the background over 100 individual tasks ran per migration. Over the past couple of months, many trial migrations have taken place to streamline the process. This meant that all sites could easily be migrated over the weekend.

The Salsa Digital and team has worked within tight timeframes with a small but elite team to deliver the migration and new platform. With the platform successfully launched and 102 sites migrated, the focus is now on next steps. While the GovCMS 7 distribution (based on Drupal 7) was the primary focus, Salsa and have also been working on building out the GovCMS 8 (Drupal 8) tools. These streams were running in parallel so that from launch day both distributions are available and functioning in the same way. This means agencies can now choose between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 for their SaaS sites so they can leverage the new features and API-first architecture of Drupal 8 while still benefiting from a fully managed platform.

As part of the migration, the Department of Finance has released a beta version of its own website,, which is the first site running Drupal 8 in a SaaS configuration on the new platform. There are currently 36 sites in the GovCMS development pipeline, many of these are using Drupal 8, and will use the new hosting platform to manage the end-to-end development lifecycle. Continuous integration and deployment tools, combined with development tools like Docker and Lagoon, enable developers to create and test code with full confidence it will work when released to the live production site.

Work will continue on GovCMS 8, as well as the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) sites. Finance is also exploring a ‘SaaS+’ model, which delivers the upstream support, maintenance and patching of SaaS, while allowing agencies to do some unique and bespoke things on their sites.

“We have an exciting roadmap ahead with new enhancements and features to be released and, of course, open sourced,” said Mr Deeb. “Ultimately, as part of our commitment to open source for open government, we’re hoping other governments and/or corporations will use these new elements and contribute back to extend the open source cycle even further.”


About GovCMS

GovCMS is Australia’s whole-of-government website management platform built on the open source content management system (CMS) Drupal. It was officially launched by the Department of Finance in February 2015. GovCMS provides all the tools and environments for developing, testing, deploying, managing, supporting, and hosting GovCMS websites. It also delivers a host of benefits, such as: a stable and reliable CMS; 24x7 enterprise support and proactive monitoring; security compliance at the highest level; an easy-to-use CMS; compliance with DTA’s Digital Service Standards and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines; and responsiveness across different devices (desktop, tablet and smartphones).

About Salsa Digital

Salsa Digital is a digital agency focused on open source for social good and innovation. Salsa Digital is committed to the open government movement and to the many benefits this ethos provides. Open CMS, open data, open platform and open design are four key pillars that enable an open government to lower the barrier for better digital services to citizens.

Salsa Digital contributes and delivers services in all these areas, with a strong involvement in specific open source initiatives such as Drupal, Wordpress, GovCMS, Single Digital Presence, Kubernetes, Lagoon and CKAN. Over the past two years, Salsa has delivered over 30 GovCMS projects and trained 100+ public sector employees on GovCMS.

Salsa Digital was founded in 2003 with a legacy in open source and has grown from a home-based business to an enterprise-grade agency.

About is a global hosting specialist and part of the Amazee Group. With staff around the globe they provide secure, high performance, Docker-based hosting that empowers developers through better deployment process, local development, and unparalleled flexibility through containers. Their next generation platform Lagoon is a completely open source, secure, high performance, cloud agnostic container hosting solution built by developers for developers. created history in October 2017 when it open sourced its Drupal platform Lagoon. Co-founder and CTO Michael Schmid said, “When you look at technologies for web development, there was one key piece that wasn’t open source, and that was the platform. So it made sense to us to open source it. Now, developers and engineers can ‘look under the hood’, see the code, and contribute back. In sectors where security is paramount, particularly in government, using Lagoon as the basis for secure hosting ensures that all requirements are met without building a platform from the ground up. This means resources can be used elsewhere, increasing innovation that directly impacts citizens.”

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