I’ve been looking a lot recently at Drupal not just as an open source CMS, but as a viable enterprise level CMS. Despite my earlier misgivings I think Drupal has a lot going for it, and it may be that over the next couple of years it will become a much bigger force in the world of content management.
Months of searching for a really good open source CMS had never really come up with anything that would meet my needs:
- really easy for people to create and edit content
- great support, or at least a great user community I could turn to
- highly extendable by someone with sufficient coding expertise
- able to cope with lots of separate – but related – sites from just one installation
My first thought was Drupal. So simple, so lovely… but… but that’s just for small companies and society websites, right? OK, next!
Then I found MySource Matrix (developed by Squiz, an Australian company) which did everything except point 2 (and sort of failed on points 3 and 4, but that’s another story). Then I found Alfresco, which is really a document management system. As you’d expect, it did everything except point 2 because for it, web pages are just another form of document.
I was running out of ideas. But actually, after I was forced to think about the total lack of open source enterprise CMS, I started to wonder whether I really needed all 5 of the above. Maybe I just needed the first 4, and having a massively integrated multi-site system is something which I could live without.
Hoorah! Epiphany! Yes, Drupal does do everything I want. As soon as you start to realise that, Drupal seems to fit the bill perfectly.
Even better, the more I looked at multi-site capabilities, the more I saw how Drupal does allow for this, albeit in a somewhat limited way compared with the really big, expensive commercial CMS. Don’t believe people when they say that Drupal can only do small sites. It can do far more than that. With a little imagination and tinkering around it can actually do a vast amount.
Delving deeper… I saw that there are now companies offering enterprise level SLAs for Drupal. Specifically, I found Acquia. It’s a company set up by the founder of Drupal himself – Dries Buytaert – to offer the kind of hand-holding that’s put people off Drupal in the past. OK, it’s a very new company with no track record. But the signs are good.
I think the moral to this story is: make sure you know what you’re looking for from a CMS. Don’t just assume you need the most expensive powerful beast out there. Don’t even assume you need something that fits in exactly with your organisational needs. Chances are that in most situations, your needs aren’t quite so written in stone as you might think.