Acquia Cloud Hosting in my own words
Sean Hanford | TrustRadius Reviewer
Updated October 17, 2017

Acquia Cloud Hosting in my own words

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

Acquia Cloud

Overall Satisfaction with Acquia Platform

My team and I use and recommend Acquia Cloud Hosting for each of our client sites that are either self-hosted, or are using generic hosting solutions like DreamHost or DigitalOcean. Not that we have anything against either of those hosting companies; many of us have side-projects and freelance sites hosted there. But for enterprise-level site and repository management, client ease-of-use, basic to advanced levels of Drupal support, and a 99.95% infrastructure uptime SLA, Acquia stands far above their closest competition.
My organization sells its own software solutions that do not compete in any way with Acquia. In-fact, the company's business model is solely geared towards cloud-hosting higher-ed CRM solutions; from a basic, simple implementation of one of our entry-level solutions, all the way up to a managed solution with on-site support staff for the duration of the contract.
Web Services, the team I belong to, is normally an add-on item in the contract to provide website support and maintenance. Many of the schools we works with, like having a single company help them manage all of their Information Technology solutions. As a result, we are just a team of developers. no dedicated dev-ops or network infrastructure billets.
  • The Acquia Cloud Hosting (enterprise) provides a three-server solution. You have a Development, Staging (or UAT), and Production servers with a clear path of deployment straight up the chain. You may use Acquia's own Cloud Hooks, or their web admin UI interface to deploy to any or all of the servers.
  • Git is one of the foundation services built-in to the management of the website codebase. Allowing a developer, or well-trained end user (university employee) to easily deploy a tag or branch to any one of the servers, makes it very easy for us to offload the server / account management to the school, while we focus on improving their site.
  • Not only does Acquia Cloud provide a multi-datacenter failover disaster recovery solution, but they also maintain a multi-region failover as well, which allows for a fully redundant enviroment to be maintained in two geographic regions. No fear of losing any database changes or form submissions from students.
  • Lastly, the onboarding process is constantly being improved, and as I have been a third-party vendor involved in many of our hosting negotiations, I have seen it firsthand. Each enterprise client is assigned a small team of engineers, technical leads, and a pseudo-project-manager to explain the process in layman's terms to the client (university / college for my example), but they also perform a number of code reviews and best-practice analysis of a site prior to launch.
  • This is a difficult question for me to answer, as I have seen the platform mature over the past few years and they recently, 3-6 months ago revamped their admin UI web interface that addressed some of their previous shortcomings. I don't ever have any difficulty finding what I need, when I need it on the admin UI. My first suggestion would be to review their documentation in some areas, which are still linked to the previous iteration of the web interface.
  • The majority of the services offered by Acquia Cloud Hosting are built on top of Amazon Web Services. As a result, some SSL certificates do not work well, or at all if they originate from Network Soutions (which have never worked), or GeoTrust (Equifax), VeriSign, and DigiCert, which on occasion produce SSL certificates that fail to work on Acquia Cloud.
  • Recently I have found that team management has a couple of limitations when the client is the "Organization administrator," and the role of "Team administrator" is assigned to myself or a member of my team. There are some links and page options that should be available to those of us assigned the role of Team Lead or Senior Developer within the Team Management structure, but we have had to contact support to update our permissions to be granted the appropriate access. It may be a result of their recent upgrade to the site, and regardless, support was able to fix our issue the same day we submitted a request.
  • With Acquia Cloud, I no longer need to implement my own home-grown deployment system and stay up-to-date on the latest LINUX security vulnerabilities or upgrade my web server software, as all of that is managed by Acquia. That in itself can save a single developer 50% of their time when compared to self-hosting.
  • Again, as I recommend the platform, I have no direct involvement in the actual cost of the hosting solution, I still benefit as a developer by using a solid mature software solution that delivers exactly what is promised.
  • My team offers Drupal and Wordpress solutions for Higher-Education institutions. Over the past couple of years, we have put together a list of recommended hosting providers for both Drupal and Wordpress. On the Drupal side, we only recommend Acquia and Pantheon and as-such, we are able to share our knowledge with other team-members using the same vendor. As a result, we have compiled a number of tips and artices we publish on the team's wiki. Put in the perspective of ROI, working with a known entity, the consistency reduces the time-to-market of many of our site builds as we have established relationships with our counterparts at Acquia and we know its strenghts and limitations.
I have used Pantheon for almost as long as I have used Acquia. Many colleges and universities will use sub-sites in Drupal either as a separator for each department, or possibly for targeted marketing campaigns. One of the biggest reason we tend to use Acquia over Pantheon for these clients is that Pantheon does not support Drupal sub-sites. So, there is an added cost to the client each time they want to spin up another site based on their base Drupal installation.
The admin UI for Pantheon is similar to Acquia's, but they take a more hands-on / hands-off approach when it comes to core Drupal upgrades. Pantheon uses their own software called Terminus to help interface between the developer and the server. By them managing the Drupal core files, you, as a developer just need to understand that you can not update your copy of the site locally, when an updated version of Drupal is released. All of your custom and contributed modules are your responsibility (as they should be), but you just need to be aware that your commits will be rejected if they contain core Drupal updates.
In my experience, if you have a talented team of Drupal developers or even a single Drupal developer who has a firm grasp of Drupal, and you are an enterprise-level business or entity, there is no better solution out there. Although I failed to mention cost previously, which is certainly a consideration. If you are serious about your site and you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of site-visitors, the cost may not be an obstacle. For smaller organizations, or non-profits/NGOs, the cost may be prohibitive and you may want to explore a less expensive vendor, such as my second-choice, Pantheon, or even RackSpace (I live in San Antonio, and a good portion of the San Antonio Drupal User's Group is made up of some extremely talented Drupal developers; so I had to include them in here somewhere).

Acquia Open Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Feature Ratings

Code quality / cleanliness
10
Admin section
10
Publishing workflow
10
SEO support
10
Availability / breadth of extensions
10
API
10
Role-based user permissions
10

Using Acquia Platform

5 - I didn't know what to put for a realistic number. There are four Drupal developers on my team, and each of us use it daily. But, the CIO's and Web Managers at our client sites', that have Acquia Cloud Hosting, have access to the interface as well. None of them use the site and resources the same way we do though.
4 - This question really is not relevant, as we don't "support Acquia" it would be better to say that they, on more than one occasion support our team.
  • I wish I could put a list of use-cases here, but in my case, there is only one: Any client that has a Drupal site.
  • Even though many of us have been using Acquia Cloud Hosting for three or four years, we are just now beginning to really take advantage of the Acquia API and including Cloud Hooks in to our development and deployment process. This simple 'refactoring' in the way we deploy and manage sites allows us to continue to streamline our processes and continue to work towards a fully TDD development and deployment workflow.
  • Acquia offers free development account / sites, that we often use for proof-of-concept demos when making a pitch to a new client, as well as an environment we can spin up easily as a sandbox when trying out new Drupal modules or theme frameworks.
  • Many of the members of our team use Acquia's DevDesktop, which is an all-in-one development environment for MacOS, or Windows. It pulls down all of the necessary Git repository branches, databases, and public files, from an existing Acquia Cloud website. For us, as a growing team, it has been very easy to onboard new developers and get them up to speed and working on our client sites in a very short amount of time.
  • As Acquia Cloud, and Acquia Cloud Free are very specific services, there no other uses for the site aside from its intended purpose.
As a Drupal Web Developer, I have not encountered or been exposed to any other hosting solution that could surpass the benefits of having a site hosted on Acquia Cloud. Although, for any side-project or low-cost freelance gigs, I cannot expect that I'll always have the option of recommending Acquia Cloud, and that's okay. While I am at work and trying to help our team gain more exposure to my companies' extensive list of clients, when we have the fortune of adding another Drupal-based client to our roster, getting those clients on Acquia Cloud makes every other aspect of building or modifying their school website that much easier.