Drupal was only one of a few open source solution providers who had a booth at the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference. Although open source didn't appear to be adequately represented at the conference, there has been a great deal of blogging on open source social computing solutions for the enterprise and specifically on Drupal's ability to play a leading role.
Content Management or Social Publishing Software?
Drupal has always been known to most as an open source web content management system. But as social computing software seems to have taken a large portion of the attention away from pure content management, you see many content management vendors like Drupal selling their wares more as "social publishing software".
It is true that most CMS providers today have either built-in or tightly integrated solutions for social networking, blogs, wikis and mashups in their solutions. And websites are social in many ways. So maybe it does make sense that we see Drupal calling itself social publishing software.
From the number of blog posts that have been talking about open source and particularly Drupal since the Enterprise 2.0 conference, others must think so as well.
Open Source for Enterprise 2.0
A panel on the use of open source for social applications -- that included Alfresco, Acquia and Ringside -- yielded some interesting comments and observations:
* The application of open source solutions may prove difficult in the enterprise as social software is seen as very strategic for both IT and management
* Some view the deployment of open source software as more complex
* Licensing issues would be a challenge to adoption
* Out of the 52 vendors in the Demo pavilion, less than a handful were open source. However, Jon Newton of Alfresco did not believe this was a "true reflection" of what the market actually bears
* Jeff Whatcott of Acquia believes that SaaS and open source will advance in parallel but that at some point organizations will see advantages of an open source model over a SaaS model in terms of the ability to customize, integrate and extend these social communities.
Drupal and Enterprise 2.0
Jeff Whatcott blogged on the conference and open source in his own blog. He said that after walking the demo floor he found that "Drupal+Acquia was the only fully organic open source project represented."
He also noted that the pitches by many of the vendors were very much the same and that Drupal needed to find a way to "more effectively emphasize the flexibility, agility, and adaptability of Drupal". He believes they can do these by stresses the strengths of their open source model which include their community, the breadth of their add-on modules, the ability to develop a number of 'special' solutions without a great deal of custom coding and the fact that they are almost always up to date with the latest trends.
Drupal's ability to provide an enterprise solution was demonstrated at the conference via a presentation by Pfizer, during a general session on Web 2.0 approaches for internal team social publishing. Pfizer uses Drupal for blogging, although they did not openly state it in their presentation.
According to Jeff Whatcott, this is a perfect example of Drupal's viral adoption and that Acquia has a great opportunity to sell Drupal as an Enterprise 2.0 solution.
Andrew Watson, Changing Way, mentioned Drupal as one of four vendors he sees on the continuum of Enterprise 2.0 adoption. This is due to the built-in functionality they provide for social computing as well as the number of add-on modules you can get. Another blog mentioned Drupal as "one of the strongest open source portal platforms".
What's In a Name?
Drupal may struggle with enterprise adoption as a social software solution for two reasons, both of which can be overcome. The first is the fact that they are open source and the enterprise is still slow to adopt open source solutions.
The second is that although they are calling themselves "social publishing software", many still call them web content management with social computing capabilities. Many enterprises already have content management solutions in place and are simply looking to augment with pure social networking, blogging and wikis based solutions.
Mind you with enterprise still struggling to figure how best to deploy Enterprise 2.0 solutions, Drupal may find getting through the doors easier than expected -- if they can sell the need as well as the software.
You can learn a lot more about Drupal and what their solution offers from their website. You can also listen to an audio version of the panel discussion mentioned above.