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May 8 – 12, 2023
Norfolk Waterside Marriott
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Large scale dynamic web deployment for CERN, experience and outlook

May 9, 2023, 11:00 AM
Chesapeake Meeting Room (Norfolk Waterside Marriott)

Chesapeake Meeting Room

Norfolk Waterside Marriott

235 East Main Street Norfolk, VA 23510
Oral Track 5 - Sustainable and Collaborative Software Engineering Track 5 - Sustainable and Collaborative Software Engineering


Rajula, Vineet Reddy


CERN hosts more than 1200 websites essential for the mission of the Organization, internal and external collaboration and communicaiton as well as public outreach. The complexity and scale of CERN’s online presence is very diverse with some websites, like

, accommodating more than one million unique visitors in a day.

However, regardless of their diversity, all websites are created using the Drupal content management system (CMS), and are self-hosted directly in the CERN Datacenter on a dedicated infrastructure that runs on Kubernetes

. Workflows like provisioning, deleting, cloning, upgrading, and similar are fully automated and managed by a customised Kubernetes controller. By leveraging the custom controller, the infrastrucutre has proven highly reliant with minimal, manual intervention necessary. In order to further automate deployments and improve goverance, we run a customised version of Drupal called the CERN Drupal Distribution. Supported by end-to-end integration tests and automated browser simulation, our setup enables us to propagate security and feature updates seamlessly to all websites without any downtime.

In this paper, we outline the architecture allowing us to build, test, and distribute updates to a large number of websites without any downtime. We further share our experiences and learnings from managing such a service at CERN with a lean team.

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