Drupal SaaS

Building software as a service on Drupal

Colan Schwartz

Drupal North 2019

Who am I?

Enterprise Cloud Architect
Drupal/Aegir/SaaS/PaaS/SaaP/IaaS Consulting

Consensus Enterprises

Helping you do big things in the cloud

  • DevOps processes & documentation
  • Self-hosted multisite solutions & audits
  • Application lifecycle management
  • Continuous integration/delivery (CI/CD)
  • Cloud infrastructure
  • Software-as-a-service engineering

Ground Rules

Interested in Drupal SaaS?

How many of you are…

  • considering building a SaaS product?
  • currently working on a SaaS product?
  • already selling a SaaS product?
  • just realizing you’re in the wrong room?

Other interests?

Project vs. Product

  • Different than development contracts
  • Lots of unpaid work to build platform
  • Have a plan for keeping the lights on
  • Consulting? Investors? Rich relative?
  • Now: Lots of development. No regular income.
  • Later: Little development. Lots of regular income.

…but only if you’re successful.


Drupal Hosting Companies


  • Outsource infrastructure
  • Simplify site maintenance


  • Vendor lock-in
  • No control over hosting costs
  • No control over data centre locations
  • Non-portable configuration as code
  • Don’t support multisite
  • Costs may not scale well for many sites


Proprietary IaaS

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Google Cloud Services (GCS)
  • Microsoft Azure

Open-source IaaS



  • No vendor lock-in
  • Often no data in & out charges
  • Portable configuration as code: standard API
  • Data centres in various countries
  • Data portability (e.g. export & import VMs)
  • More control over hosting costs

But you still need a hosting system!

Do you need to write one from scratch?




Aegir Hosting System

  • Designed for hosting Drupal sites
  • Open source
  • 10+ years!
  • Web services API

…and will soon host anything

How many of you…

  • Have heard of Aegir?
  • Are using Aegir?
  • Were using Aegir?

So you now have a hosting system…

How do you integrate it with:

  • e-commerce
  • recurring billing
  • subscription services

Aegir Site Subscriptions

Adds e-commerce to the Aegir ecosystem by associating hosted sites with customer subscriptions via recurring billing. Communicates with the Aegir API over Web services.

Aegir Site Subscriptions


  1. Customer selects a plan
  2. Subscription service takes payment info
  3. Customer’s site gets provisioned
  4. Site gets deleted on payment failures

Aegir Site Subscriptions

Subscription Providers


  1. Recurly (done)
  2. Commerce Recurring Framework (ideal, needs funding)
  3. Others (need funding)

Customer site issues

Customer Service

Public-facing issue tracker

  • GitLab’s Service Desk
  • Associates customer tickets with project issues
  • Good option if already using GitLab
    • And who isn’t?
  • Other good options?

Thank you!


  • Questions?
  • Comments?
  • Thoughts?