The Future of Drupal - Sustaining Effective Growth

4 minute read
Felipe Rubim avatar

There are quite a few examples of quickly growing adoption in the content management systems/framework world, but it’s particularly fascinating to see how Drupal is uniquely changing the direction of how an organization will look at its content delivery strategy and the tools used to support it.

The game is changing in Drupal’s favor.

A common business mantra has become doing “more with less” -- which is helping push bigger movements such as the migration to the cloud. Few realize that it is also impacting the digital marketing strategies of small companies and corporations, causing free and open source software to become key in an increasingly competitive world.

To that point, Drupal is playing an important role beyond its traditional base of small companies, government and non-profit organizations. It has also hit -- and hit hard -- with the larger organizations of the world. Drupal growth is clear, along with the disruption it is causing for Enterprise CMS. That could be one of the reasons for the growth in activity, shown in the charts below (from builtwith.com):

Drupal Usage Trends



Even though Drupal’s growth is steady, well-sustained and on the right track to continue disrupting the small, medium and Enterprise CMS world, its future is potentially constrained due to two major challenges that every member on the Drupal ecosystem should be aware of:

#1. Sustainable Community Growth

The Drupal mantra, “Come for the software, stay for the community,” is really true in all senses. Once you join a Drupal camp or conference you can really see what is underneath that software -- an unbelievable ecosystem.

But as with many other open source communities, the way they govern themselves (explained in a great article by Randy Fay) is going to be paramount to ensure continuous software adoption in the long run. The community needs to keep up its momentum by continuing activities to help it grow, including:frequent releases, mature add-on modules, ease of extendibility, stable security processes, Drupal events and an increased number of companies supporting the software and the community.

The Drupal Association, the nonprofit organization behind Drupal events, is doing a terrific job fostering and helping convey the efforts to improve the software and how everyone can contribute to it, but the community is growing and challenges naturally rise with that.

The foundation that the association and the volunteers have put in place is solid enough to sustain the rapid community growth, but this growing community needs to maintain the support for which it is known. Keeping the community together is part of what will continue to impress its growing audience in the global enterprise market.

#2. Global Enterprise Success Cases

Startups, small and medium companies deploying a few or several sites using Drupal are excellent situations for platform success.

Learning Opportunities

Uptake by SMBs is a step in the right direction, but large deployments of Drupal sites by global corporations, up to hundreds of websites for a single company, are the key to bringing Drupal to the next level and establishing it, once and for all, as the leader in the enterprise world.

As Drupal started to stand out and grow in popularity, proprietary CMS solutions looked for ways to differentiate their products and prove why they should remain leaders for enterprise use. Along with increased activity from Drupal’s competitors, Web Experience Management (WEM) has also risen in popularity to challenge open source CMS, demanding innovation in how the platform could be configured to support organizations in theirincreased effortstowards better customer engagement.

Being a modular platform, Drupal has quite a few options to address WEM pillars. Although Drupal has the flexibility that is important to corporations, they also demand stable, widely used and well-configured modules, which will make a CMS a differentiator for this market.

To that point, Drupal service providers must continue to excel and improve their services geared towards larger enterprises by architecting and customizing Drupal solutions to address each global organization’s requirements, as well as stressing how Drupal’s core and existing modules can also help achieve success.

Final Thoughts

Drupal’s future is being taken care of and is well on its way to continued success. The eighth version of the platform is currently being carefully designed, implemented and reviewed and it should be out in the summer of 2013. As the market gets even more mature for such open source enterprise level CMS -- along with its vibrant community -- that release could be a real game changer.

As Drupal grows in popularity and its future becomes bright, it’s important that the community remembers that they are the backbone of its success. I have great faith in the heavily involved Drupal community, and look forward to seeing them continue to evolve to take the CMS to new heights.

Editor's Note: To read more by Felipe Rubim:
-- Myths & Realities of Drupal

About the author

Felipe Rubim

As Chief Technology Architect, Felipe manages the technical delivery of Ci&T's primary offerings including application development (for several platforms), application support and mobile services. He is also responsible for Ci&T's Digital Marketing offering which focuses on leading platforms for Web Content Management Systems (WCMS) such as Drupal.