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Drupal Hitting The Enterprise and Nonprofit Organizations

Posted by admin

If the THREE THOUSAND Drupal geeks at DrupalCon San Francisco in April, including the friggin' WHITE HOUSE wasn't enough to convince you that Drupal has hit "The Enterprise," this bit of news oughta' put a nail in it: The Royal Mail, for the uninformed and ignorant (as I was until I saw this news bit tonight and looked it up on Wikipedia) is the equivalent to the US Postal Service. It's a €9Billion business that basically moves all the mail for the UK, and it is migrating its website to Drupal. This decision, especially considering the White House's move to Drupal, should leave no doubt as to the performance, reliability, security and scalability of Drupal as a platform capable of delivering in some of the most demanding market environments. This also suggests a reliance on Drupal as not only a Content Management System, but as a Web Application Framework as well. Drupal's security, scalability and developer base make it clear that the Drupal platform supporting the software makes it a serious option for the enterprise. And hundreds -- if not thousands -- of really, really big corporations have switched to Drupal. What this means to non-profit organizations: The entry into the "Enterprise" level of the marketplace is a crucible. Enterprise IT is ridiculously demanding. The level of detail, review and filtering that technologies go through before becoming adopted at the "enterprise" level is exhausting and in some cases more expensive than the annual budget of a small non-profit. Numerous Fortune 500 companies, The White House and The Royal Mail cannot be bothered with software that will not withstand the rigorous demands of an entire nation banging on their sites. Or a software platform that is expensive to use. In the same way technology investments in space exploration end up in our kitchens, the technology investments made by a large number of really, really smart business people in the large-business part of the market create a kind of knowledge draft for smaller businesses and non-profits. Certainly, every organization should check Drupal against their strategy-driven criteria. But knowing that some of the world's biggest, most prominent and complex sites have chosen Drupal should add some heft to Drupal as an option. Drupal is not for everyone, though. Smaller non-profit organizations with simple needs can quickly and easily manage a free-themed WordPress site, start collecting donations and building awareness for zero dollars and a few hours of a geek volunteer's time. And Drupal still requires some experience with Drupal in order to maintain it. Especially as new versions of Drupal and contributed modules are improved. Migrating a Drupal 5 site is no small feat. This is kind of a conundrum for smaller organizations without Drupal geek resources, or professional vendors at hand. We all have high hopes for Drupal 7's usability improvements, and certainly Acquia's Drupal Gardens, Buzzr and others have made significant strides in making the installation, customization and management of a simple Drupal site incredibly easy. For organizations with an aspiration towards innovation on the web, building community, or providing something more than contact form's worth of funcationality to a site, Drupal stands alone in terms of its potential in the hands of Drupal experts, on staff or outsourced. I have mixed feelings about this fact. On the one hand, it's provided CivicActions with a base of business. Many organizations would rather invest in hiring a reputable, aligned firm with multiple resources than hiring a single developer as a contractor or employee. Often, a non-profit's technology vision extends beyond the skills available in any one person, making a firm a better choice anyway. What is unchanged is the importance of having a clear vision and strategy preceding the choice of ANY web platform, vendor, or technology. Without a clear vision and strategy, any amount of technology investment is at risk. The enterprise knows this too. Knowing that major sites have adopted Drupal should give the non-profit technology executive some degree of comfort in choosing Drupal as a platform, assuming the level of the site's functional complexity demands it.



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