[kwlug-disc] Drupal Multi-site Hosting

john at netdirect.ca john at netdirect.ca
Mon Feb 8 10:57:17 EST 2010

I'm noticing that have more and more Drupal sites. Most are internal but 
increasingly more and more are customer sites. We have been installing 
separate Drupal instances for each web site and it becomes time consuming 
to keep them all up-to-date and we risk becoming insecure if we miss one.

I know that Drupal can handle multi-site hosting per instance and I'm now 
considering doing just that. It seems clear how to go about doing this, 
but I'm worried about the consequences.

Does anyone know any gotchas in doing this?

The multi-site hosting seems easy:

- Install one copy with a generous assortment of useful (and active) 
modules and themes,
- Create a sites/customer.com directory structure and matching Linux user 
so they can upload modules, themes and files,
- Create a database,
- Create an Apache config for the domain,

This should allow customers to upload/download themes, additional modules, 
and control their own site's users and settings. They can use the base 
modules (in sites/all/modules) or add their own. 

I could set up three instances, one for 5.x, 6.x and 7.x and put the 
user's sites/customer.com directory in whichever instance they want. Then, 
when needed, I'd only have to do one update to affect all sites for a 
given version. When a user wants to upgrade, we run through the upgrade 
process except move the sites/customer.com to the new instance, then run 
the update process to update their database.

One unique thing in this is that we most of our customers rely on us to do 
the web site administration, however we do have customers that work with 
their site at an content level (e.g. they don't change site-wide configs 
like modules, themes or such.)

We would have to concern ourselves with making sure some customers are 
prepped before upgrading.

Is any hosting provider doing this effectively?

John Van Ostrand
Net Direct Inc.
564 Weber St. N. Unit 12
Waterloo, ON N2L 5C6
john at netdirect.ca
Ph: 866-883-1172
Linux Solutions / IBM Hardware
Fx: 519-883-8533

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