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Large-scale Drupal migration for Court Services Victoria

Hot on the heels of our last successful govCMS migration came our next big mandate, this time from Court Services Victoria, the statutory body that supports the administration of Victoria’s courts and tribunals.

Alfred D 15 October 2015

About CSV

Court Services Victoria (CSV) supports a key component of the Australian justice system.

The function of Court Services Victoria is to provide, or arrange for the provision of, the administrative services and facilities necessary to support the performance of the judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative functions of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the County Court of Victoria, the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, the Children’s Court of Victoria, the Coroners Court of Victoria, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), and to enable the Judicial College of Victoria (College) to perform its functions.

The mandate

The challenge presented to us was by no means small. We were tasked with migrating, hosting and maintaining security compliance for six of CSV's key websites, namely:


These websites contained large volumes of information on the court and tribunal system, and it was therefore very important that they remained accessible at all times.

CSV needed Salsa to deliver, manage and assume full responsibility for the dedicated virtual hosting, security patching and related compliance maintenance of both the product and UAT instances of the CSV Drupal websites. This was a project of considerable scale and required careful planning and execution.

Why the migration?

CSV needed assurance that their digital service provider had in place structures and rigorous processes that would deliver platform stability and security. Salsa Digital was chosen because of our strong engineering pedigree and structured approach to site migration and important routine tasks including patch management. Acquia Cloud Professional was also selected as the obvious choice given its highly optimised and resilient Drupal platform stack, backed by AWS (Amazon Web Services). Both production and UAT of the six websites, which used a mix of Drupal 6 and 7 infrastructure, were co-hosted on a single hosting platform.

CSV needed Salsa to ensure patch levels were current and deployed on time, specifically critical security patches within 48 hours.

What we did

To do the best possible job for CSV, we defined the following success criteria:

  • Smooth and fuss-free Drupal migration onto the new target platform.
  • Setting up of a reliable and cost-effective hosting platform with strong uptime SLAs, monitoring and support.
  • Clear process with related roles and accountabilities for application maintenance.
  • Proactive patch monitoring and notification and confidence in staying abreast of any Drupal updates.
  • Clarity of judgement when choosing between applying or deferring a patch and related risks and mitigation strategies.
  • Receipt of status reporting along with updated Drupal application patch register for each release.
  • Clear, systematic and accurate communication and expectation management.
  • Clear and concise incident reporting in the event of outages.

Based on this success criteria, we offered CSV the following proposal:

  • An Acquia Cloud Drupal-optimised hosting platform-as-a-service providing full stack management, reducing complexity and maintenance.
  • Logically separated development, staging and production environments.
  • A mature, proven and repeatable Drupal hosting platform migration, with associated testing and validation rigour.
  • Full Drupal security and application management SLA.
  • Full Drupal patch release traceability, to track which patches had been released, applied, deferred and so on via a structurally-maintained Drupal Patch Register.
  • Proactive monitoring and notifications on patching.
  • Mature and reliable patching management process translating to managed, coordinated, tested and reported patching.
  • New Relic Infrastructure and Application Monitoring.
  • Collaboration with the CSV stakeholders during the project to establish a clear support process, identify key roles and responsibilities, and so on.

We'd be lying if we said this project was a piece of cake. Each website came complete with its own stakeholders, incumbent and DNS administrators, all of whom required detailed communication and collaboration to make the migration come together.

It was a process that had us gnashing our teeth and celebrating our wins in quick succession. But in hindsight, things went relatively smoothly, and we were able to complete the project in under six weeks.

The grunt work might be finished, but our job's not over yet. Today, we continue to provide CSV with application management and enhancement services to ensure its websites remain current and compliant.

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