Common Web Platform - What are your options?
Upgrading your Common Web Platform (CWP) website to CWP 2.0 can be difficult. If you haven't upgraded your website yet you should consider the options that are available.
Note this article was originally published in 2019.
The Common Web Platform is an infrastructure as a service platform that hosts 230 sites owned by 60 government agencies.
The second version of the Common Web Platform (CWP 2.0) was launched earlier this year on Silverstripe 4.0. The first version of Silverstripe is now out of support.
Many agencies with websites on CWP are yet to upgrade to the latest version of CWP. But upgrading isn’t the only option.
This article discusses the four broad options open to agencies who have not upgraded their CWP website yet. These are:
- Rebuild on the CWP
- Rebuild off the CWP
Option 1: Upgrade to CWP 2.0
If your CWP website is on CWP 1.0 and is working well, a simple upgrade to CWP 2.0 might still be the best option. The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) points out that you can both upgrade and refresh (change the site’s purpose) at the same time, or “…simply upgrade to CWP 2.0 and call it a day”.
DIA guidance is also clear about the risks of upgrading to 2.0, especially for complex sites or sites with custom code, modules or recipes.
The Common Web Platform does not offer some of the server-side tools and support that can ensure a painless upgrade of sites requiring substantial testing, monitoring and debugging.
The fact is that some government agencies have found the upgrade process to be painful and difficult, while others have found it to be quite straightforward.
Option 2: Rebuild on CWP
The DIA developed a framework for understanding the complexity of upgrading your site to CWP 2.0. If your site is medium or high complexity on this framework, it might be worth considering a rebuild.
Without refreshing your site’s content or design, a rebuild can be relatively cost-effective and lower risk than a potentially painful upgrade.
A lack of documentation or knowledge of your site’s advanced functionality (for example if you have lost key staff) can compound upgrade risks by making it difficult to test and identify bugs, potentially until the site is live.
Rebuilding is more predictable and may suit site owners with a lower risk tolerance.
Option 3: Rebuild on Silverstripe, but not on CWP
You don’t need to use CWP to have a high performing, secure government website. There are a wide range of suitable alternatives that offer service level agreements, support, and that can utilise the benefits of Silverstripe 4 combined with an alternative hosting arrangement such as Amazon Web Services.
Put simply you might get more “bang for your buck” by re-building off the platform - a decision that is best informed by a thorough analysis of your requirements.
Option 4: Rebuild on another platform
This is a new option since this article was first published in 2019. At Haunt we consider ourselves fairly platform-agnostic. But if you are sick of Silverstripe, it isn't the only option in government. There are a number of important government websites using Drupal, or for smaller campaign sites you could consider a headless/decoupled site.
We can help
Our team has experience upgrading to CWP 2.0 as well as building government websites on and off CWP. We're happy to discuss your CWP website and what your options are.