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Changes to Hosted Websites Completed

Over the past two months, the California Democratic Council (CDC) has been working on migrating the websites hosted by the organization to a new server. The websites are now hosted with a different service provider, DigitalOcean, known for their security and reliability.

This action followed concerns that the purchase of their previous service provider, iPage, by Endurance International Group (EIG), a publicly-traded company that owns more than 80 web-hosting companies, had focused its efforts on maximizing profits for their shareholders by outsourcing support services and migrating clients to unreliable hardware infrastructure.

“We had been running into numerous issues with iPage that affected our ability to provide support to our affiliated organizations,” a memo from the CDC’s tech department explained. “For example, they would shut down our server without communication if there was a suspected virus, which turned out to be false flags.”

The completed migration to a new server included changes to how the websites are set up, which run on open-source WordPress software.

“During the migration, we found that a lot of websites had outdated modules installed due to lack of maintenance by content managers from affiliated organizations. We realized this could be attributed to poor or lack of training on our end and high turnover rates within these organizations. Either way, we had to take pro-active steps,” the memo further explains.

In order to close these vulnerabilities that have the potential to disrupt other websites on the server, websites have been modified to operate within a multi-site network, a setup where WordPress core files, plugins, and themes are shared by all users of the CDC’s hosting services.

“This change increases the security of the network as a whole by ensuring that everything is always up to date. It also boosts the performance of our sites by sharing resources instead of having to power individual site installations. We can reach faster turn-around times for setting up new websites and addressing any unforeseen issues.”

There is a trade-off to this benefit, as the memo finishes.

“For the experienced WordPress user, this restricts their ability to install external modules at will. However, this allows the majority of content managers, who are not as experienced, to focus on updating content on their site instead of worrying about maintenance. The work-around for the rare external module that needs to be installed is requesting it by e-mail. We aim to fulfill those requests within 24 hours.”