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5 Common Misconceptions About Drupal

Duo on May 22, 2014

Last week Acquia hosted a webinar with Dries Buytaert, founder and lead developer of the Drupal CMS. The first part of the event focused on common misconceptions that decision makers have about Drupal when vetting the CMS. I want to reiterate Dries’ message and nullify some of the misconceptions floating around about Drupal.

Misconception #1: Drupal is only for “simple” sites like blogs.

Wrong. Unless you consider GE and NBC “simple” sites, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Drupal is a hybrid of an application and a framework and has the capacity and flexibility to build almost anything of varying complexities that you can imagine on the web.

50% of the top media and entertainment companies use Drupal. More than 130 nations around the world use Drupal. 7 of 8 top U.S. universities, including Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton, use Drupal.

Warner Music has built 300 completely custom artist experiences with Drupal. Managing 300 unique websites is no simple task. With Drupal they can manage their existing load and continuously launch new artists and bands at a rapid speed. 

Misconception #2: Drupal isn’t secure.

Wrong. Drupal is trusted by more than 130 nations to handle their government websites. This includes the United States and the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The fact that the government vertical frequently uses Drupal to build their websites is a testament to the CMS and open source software as a whole.

The Drupal community takes security very seriously. The CMS’ security team is made up of 30 individuals whose sole focus is to make Drupal the most secure CMS available.

What’s more impressive, and should be noted by decision makers choosing the CMS for their website, is that Drupal, in comparison to proprietary software, fosters a culture of peer review and transparency which enforces security.

When security issues do occur, these bugs are publicly addressed and mended. This commitment to transparency is healthy and effective to getting the issues resolved as quickly as possible while ensuring clients are aware of any potential risks.

Let’s take a quick look at how proprietary software handles updates and security issues. When an engineer makes a change, they commit this change to the next version of the platform. According to Dries, it is common for only one individual to be conducting the code review.

With Drupal, 10-20 developers must review the proposed change before it is committed to Drupal core. In every single case, every patch is viewed by at least one other individual, but in most instances goes under review by several.

Misconception #3: Drupal doesn’t scale.

Similar to misconception #1 (Drupal is only good for “simple sites”), many people are misinformed and think that it can’t handle enterprise-scale websites. Wrong again. Drupal successfully powers technology in the enterprise, operating systems beyond the Content Management System. has been powered by Drupal for 3 years and received 460 million hits on the night of the 2014 Grammys. received 30,000 concurrent visitors per second during Hurricane Sandy with 100% uptime, successfully helping 5.1M customers in the metro NYC area during the disaster.

Misconception #4: Drupal requires secret tribal knowledge.

Reports against Drupal have suggested that the Drupal development model has no accountability.
Wrong. Let’s take another look at proprietary software vs. Drupal. Proprietary Web CMS products may have 100 developers working on their platform. The Drupal community has 28,000 people on its development team. The enormous ecosystem of Drupal and sheer manpower behind our CMS allows users to innovate and build websites faster than proprietary software competitors.

Misconception #5: Drupal is more expensive than proprietary software.

Drupal v. Proprietary Competitor 3 Year Project CostAnd wrong. The most important thing to remember when looking at your website budget is that Drupal doesn’t come with a license fee like it’s proprietary software competitors. There are some gross exaggerations about the cost of Drupal vs. Adobe website development. To address this I’ve included a graph that outlines Drupal vs. Proprietary Web CMS and what the 3-year total cost would look like.

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