A transformative journey from Drupal 7 to 10, securing luxury and excellence for De Vere

About the Client

De Vere operates as a hotel and leisure business dedicated to restoring historic mansion houses and enhancing them to accommodate a 21st-century way of life. 

The collection of country estates around London, the south-east and the Cotswolds boasts over 260 meeting rooms, over 1800 bedrooms and lavish spa facilities, all designed to provide a luxurious experience for guests seeking relaxation and functionality.

Business Challenge

Working with De Vere for several years has meant we have dealt with various challenges. As technology has continued to evolve, De Vere has adapted to changes to ensure their digital experience matches the in-person experience their customers expect at one of their luxurious facilities. 

Initially using Drupal 7, an imminent change was necessary to address concerns, including the upcoming Drupal 7 end-of-life approaching and GDPR compliance and data security concerns. 

Throughout the years, De Vere has moved from a Drupal 7 and Drupal 9 hybrid to then upgrading to Drupal 9, and, most recently, they have made a move to Drupal 10, all under our expert guidance. Along the way, we have tackled issues such as booking issues, protecting customer data, improving their staff portal as well as addressing UX issues. 

All the while, our hosting and support team have continued to address any critical issues and other reactive ones to keep the De Vere website running faultlessly. 


Swift Solutions for Data Security and Booking Efficiency

De Vere needed a quick solution to address their concerns over the end of life of Drupal 7 and the problems this would bring with GDPR and data security concerns. The personal data of their customers stored unencrypted in a public domain would have been non-compliant with GDPR and was of a high priority to De Vere, who wanted to ensure the privacy of their customers' data. 

The organisation also needed help with booking issues with duplicates and failed payment tokenisation, causing personnel overheads. 

Our solution was a hybrid Drupal 7 and Drupal 9 website running with Drupal 7 for the back office. This would address multiple issues. 

Sensitive customer data, such as age, gender, and dietary needs,  and commercial data, such as De Vere's room pricing model and hotel occupancy level, would be protected behind a private network and be GDPR compliant. The staff portal and admin area were secure, and the hybrid version would ensure that Drupal 7 would no longer be a security risk to De Vere. 

The hybrid model was the fastest way to implement a viable solution to ensure a quick launch. The move also came with additional benefits such as no personnel overheads with staff re-training and no additional investment needed from the company.

Booking System Challenges:

One of the reasons that De Vere was looking to upgrade their website was due to the issues they were having with their booking system. Our team discovered that these issues were not Drupal 7 related but had more to do with the network and Application Programming Interface (API) calls between the payment gateway, Drupal 7 and Oracle.

This led us to integrate a new payment gateway and build an additional logging of the transactional calls. It was agreed that the payment gateway would be assessed post-launch to determine if there were still issues or if the new payment gateway and Hybrid solution had resolved them. 

The outcome for De Vere at this stage was a Drupal 9 secure website with a securely accessed back-office, their personal and commercial data in a private cloud, leaving them safe knowing this was a data-secure solution. This hybrid project was accomplished within a quick delivery date and within an existing budget. 

Strategic Shift to Drupal 9 and User-Centric Enhancements

While the Drupal 7 and Drupal 9 hybrid worked for De Vere for some time, it became clear that the next step for the organisation was to fully upgrade to a Drupal 9 website. 

The primary focus was refactoring the API and upgrading the back office infrastructure. The goal was to create a stand-alone data API, upgrade the staff portal, and seamlessly integrate the admin area into the Drupal 9 website.
This would remove the dependency on Drupal 7 and ensure the maintenance of the private network security we had previously put in place.  

The website's overall design during the upgrade stayed largely the same, with the integration of some bespoke components. The upgrade also required work refactoring the legacy code to adhere to Drupal 9 standards. Furthermore, integrating editorial and package interfaces enhanced the overall front-of-house staff portal to ensure its efficiency for staff members. 

The payment gateway was still proving problematic for De Vere. So, with issues still arising, it was suggested that an alternative payment gateway replace the current PXP gateway, leading to the implementation of a different payment gateway, Freedom Pay. 

The Drupal 9 upgrade was completed in three phases:

Phase 1 - Set-Up

This phase would entail setting up the new infrastructure for the new Drupal 9 site so that it could be deployed, tested and content populated without affecting the current live Drupal 7 installation. 

Phase 2 - Launch

The new Drupal 9 site was deployed, thereby replacing the old one. 

Phase 3 - Scale Down 

With the new site live,  we reduced the overall infrastructure costs where possible since the old Drupal 7 site was no longer receiving live traffic.

User Experience:

De Vere took this opportunity while upgrading their website to utilise our user experience (UX) services to improve the usability of their website for their users further.

Changes made include: 

  • Showing extra property and room information on the room selection page
  • Detect if an Applause rate is selected and then presenting the requirement to either sign up or log in
  • Integrate the applause sign-up process as part of the booking journey
  • Integrate the Applause login process as part of the booking journey
  • Show bed selection, room package and occupancy as part of the room 

Overall, the transition to fully move over to Drupal 9 addressed immediate challenges and positioned De Vere in good stead for future growth. The system ensured security and efficiency and guaranteed a better user experience for De Vere customers.

Future Proofing with Drupal 10 and Seamless OWS Cloud Migration

With the end-of-life date for Drupal 9 set for the end of 2023, De Vere has most recently made the move to upgrade their website to Drupal 10. Much like when upgrading to Drupal 9, the move to Drupal 10 was essential for security concerns; however, this upgrade does naturally come with other benefits for De Vere, including a step forward in content management and web page creation, bringing improved functionality. 

Following the same principles of the Drupal 9 build, the Drupal 10 upgrade went through the three phases of set-up, launch and scale-down. 

We completed an audit during the set-up to establish the effort required to upgrade De Vere's website to Drupal 10. Once complete, our dedicated Drupal team worked tirelessly to set up the new website, which underwent meticulous bug fixing and user acceptance testing (UAT). 

The launch took place out of hours, with key journeys tested post-migration and a stabilisation reserve in place for urgent post-launch issues to give De Vere peace of mind. 

OWS Cloud Migration 

De Vere used the hospitality management stem, Oracle Opera Web Services v5, hosted on a dedicated infrastructure for De Vere by Oracle. However, when Oracle decided to retire their dedicated infrastructure option, this left De Vere in a position where they were required to migrate to a cloud-based version of the Opera Web Service solution as an interim solution before moving to Oracle Cloud. 

A dual-running Drupal 7 backend was created to enable the migration of De vere hotels one at a time to the Oracle Web Services (OWS) Cloud. Our dedicated team worked for over three months researching, designing, and documenting the intended build. As well as conducting meetings with the relevant parties and updating the design and documentation based on their feedback while ensuring alignment with De Vere's requirements and reducing risks. 

The successful completion of these initiatives resulted in a seamless upgrade to Drupal 10, a smooth transition for De Vere Hotels to the OWS Cloud, and the adoption of Oracle Cloud as the new hospitality management system. Our approach has minimised the risks that can occur with upgrades and migrations, as well as ensuring that the needs of De Vere are met at every stage.

The Fundamental Role of Hosting and Support in Maintaining Online Excellence

De Vere has always relied upon our hosting and support services to keep their website up and running. 

Our critical support service means continuously monitoring their website to keep it operational with our dedicated team of support technicians available to respond to alerts and any issues the De Vere team raises. 

De Vere also has reactive support available, so our team can look into minor changes and fixes each month to keep the De Vere website running smoothly.

Our consistent communication and regular calls with the De Vere team mean we can stay on top of their priorities and gives us the power to plan and review so that the De Vere website maintains an impeccable level of superiority, enhancing De Vere's status as a luxury brand.

Quality Assurance (QA) Testing

All of our projects undergo rigorous testing through the software development process. In order to deliver the utmost quality for clients and their respective uses, our in-house QA team ensures that all end products perform accurately and reliably under normal and abnormal conditions. Testing is followed by continual monitoring of software performance to prevent the reoccurrence of any issues and to ensure efficient ongoing operation.

As such, we were able to confidently deliver a well-designed, scalable and technically stable result.


Our team has been at De Vere's side through every Drupal migration as they continued adapting to the necessary changes as the Drupal service advanced its technology and capabilities. 

Initially tackling the imminent challenges with the end-of-life concerns of Drupal 7 and most recently upgrading De Vere to Drupal 10, we have continued to ensure the brand remains at the forefront of change, tacking concerns along the way, such as:

  • GDPR Compliance
  • safeguarding customer data
  • refining APIs
  • enhancing the staff portal

Ultimately, in each project our team were pursuing exceptional usability for De Vere staff and customers alike. 

Our hosting and support services played a critical role throughout, sustaining De Vere's reputation as a superior luxury brand. Regular communication and collaboration with the De Vere team have ensured a thriving partnership, contributing to the ongoing success of their digital presence. To this day, we continue working with De Vere, supporting their website and looking forward to more projects with the organisation in the future.