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Myths & Realities of Drupal

In the decade since its quiet emergence onto the scene, Drupal has become an industry standard in the web content management and web publishing field, one with an almost cult-like following among developers.

With its sophisticated, easy-to-use Drupal Core system and thousands of modules for additional customization, Drupal has something to offer everyone, whether you’re a high-performance development team or a small business owner who doesn’t know the first thing about Web Content Management Systems (Web CMS).

The rise of Drupal has led companies of all sizes to consider it for their content management needs, and for good reason. Its open source nature makes it incredibly cost-effective, while its options for customization are unmatched for flexibility.

But there’s a catch.

Despite its attractiveness, several myths have sprung up around Drupal, and though the years since its introduction have helped clear up some of these myths, others have only become more ubiquitous. The same open source nature that makes Drupal a cost-effective option, combined with the sheer number of modules available for customization, has led to the perception of Drupal as an anarchic “Wild West” for developers, one without any guiding direction, and therefore a risky investment for companies looking to harness it for their website development.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In this article, I’ll dispel three of the most commonly-held myths around Drupal and its uses, offering up reasons why rather than adhering to the misconception of Drupal as the Wild West, companies should strongly consider it as their CMS of choice — when it fits their business objectives.

Myth #1: It Lacks Support

Because Drupal is an open-source framework, one not produced or offered by a well-established entity like Mozilla, many companies believe that once they adopt it as their CMS, they’re on their own. To many, the proprietary nature of solutions like Microsoft’s SharePoint mean they’re getting more than just software — they’re getting an established, multi-billion-dollar support system to aid in the customization of their sites and troubleshooting in the event of any problems.

Drupal, as they see it, has none of this support. Sure, it has plenty of enthusiastic users, but how is that going to help if something goes wrong during development, or if features aren’t configured correctly? And if they’ve brought on a partner to aid in development, what happens when the engagement ends? Once again, they’re on their own without a safety net.

Why is this a myth? Because support for Drupal is nowhere near nonexistent — in fact, it’s just the opposite.

Although Drupal is dedicated to the idea of community, this particular community has dedicated resources for supporting all facets of the development process. Many companies, a number of which are conveniently linked on the Drupal website, have built their entire business models on supporting and managing Drupal development efforts. And many of these companies are available 24/7 to aid and support every facet of the process.

Beyond this, Drupal has a thriving and growing community of enthusiasts, and options for support go far beyond just call center help. Hundreds of online and local groups have sprung up around the framework, many of which hold regular events and meet-ups to discuss anything and everything Drupal-related. Additionally, plenty of other online resources are available, including chat options, blogs (all conveniently aggregated on the Drupal website under “Planet Drupal”).

With Drupal, companies are getting much more than just software. They’re getting all the support they could hope for (and probably more), in addition to one of the most flexible and cost-effective CMS platforms on the market.

Myth #2: It’s Not Secure

For those larger companies looking to implement Drupal, security is, of course, a major concern, and here again the myth around Drupal support rears its ugly head. A company like Microsoft, for example, is well-known for the efforts it puts into fixing holes in its applications and systems, with a dedicated team monitoring 24/7 and issuing regular patches to fix newly-discovered flaws.

For a larger organization concerned about the security of its corporate data, the prospect of choosing a system that lacks this kind of resource can seem at best a risk and at worst, unthinkable.

But fear not. Just as Drupal has a thriving community of groups, committees and resources all dedicated to supporting and aiding in the development process, it also has a community dedicated to identifying and plugging any security holes in the framework, making it just as secure as some of the most widely-used proprietary solutions out there.

 

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