Letters C M and S overlaid on gears

There’s More to the Drupal CMS than Meets the Eye

When it comes to content management systems (CMS) Wordpress is king, powering 43.7 percent of the top 100,000 websites worldwide. For many companies, that makes this CMS is an attractive choice—it's free, easy to use and is the backbone of popular websites like Forbes and CNN.

But there's another power player on the market: Drupal. As a recent IT World article reports, over one million websites now rely on Drupal—sites like Whitehouse.gov and the Linux OS homepage. But what makes this CMS a contender for enterprise Web content?

The Drupal Difference

Drupal got its start in 2001, three years before Wordpress hit the market. Just like its better-known competitor, this CMS is open source and runs on a combination of PHP and MySQL. This means Drupal installations are free, although many high-quality modules (analogous to Wordpress plugins) come with an added cost. Manually deploying Drupal takes around 10 minutes, comparable to Joomla but twice as long as Wordpress. And as WPML.org notes, Wordpress and Drupal share many of the same basic elements—functions are simply given different names and operate in slightly different ways.

So what makes Drupal different?  It starts with flexibility. While Wordpress was conceived as a simple way for bloggers to produce regular content and then developed into a more robust CMS over time, Drupal was designed from the ground up to give governments and enterprises flexibility in webpage design.

Need a static front page and a blog? No problem. Need to scale up and support thousands of page? Drupal can do that too; the service is stable no matter the number of users. In addition, this CMS was created with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind and comes built-in with strong version control and access control list (ACL) support. Users can also expect updates every seven weeks or so—Drupal has a strong developer community which includes online and local groups, IRC chats and sites like Planet Drupal for knowledge sharing.

Deconstructing Drupal

In addition to Whitehouse.gov, Drupal powers the websites of companies like FedEx, Nvidia, The Economist and National Geographic, according to Drupal Showcase. Yet it can't seem to overtake Wordpress. Why?

Drupal has earned a reputation for being powerful, scalable and stable, but isn't easy to use right out of the box, notes Udemy.  That results in developers falling in love with the CMS, but users preferring a simpler approach. Drupal encourages developers to write their own modules and create their own code, which can be daunting for a small business lacking in IT staff or enterprises in need of a simple blog.

Think of Drupal like a tool bench and pile of lumber in the garage of your Web Host, while Wordpress is a finished project just waiting for paint. Both have their advantages but it's no surprise that Drupal is favored among Web designers looking for ways to build flexible, community-friendly sites with enhanced taxonomy and content features.

Enticing Enterprise

Many enterprises still find themselves facing an IT budget crunch, so it's often tempting to choose a stripped-down CMS as a way to quickly get websites up and running. But Drupal is gaining ground, in large measure because it mirrors the functionality of cloud computing and “as a service” deployments—just like services in the cloud, Drupal is scalable on demand and stable even when serving thousands of concurrent users.

Wordpress has made significant inroads by slimming down the development process and presenting companies with a set of predetermined options—here, simplicity is the focus. Drupal, meanwhile, focuses on performance over predetermination, giving companies everything they need to build sites from the ground up and the power to run smoothly at any size.

[image: Alexandr Mitiuc/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]

ABOUT THIS CONTRIBUTOR
Freelance writer
Douglas Bonderud is a technology expert with a deep understanding of web hosting, cloud computing and data security.
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