Drupal and 8 other open source and proprietary CMS's evaluated by University of Florida

mherchel's picture

Hi Everyone,

I stumbled on this evaluation of enterprise CMS's created last June by the University of Florida. The formal mission of this is to "...identify UF’s web publication needs, review the available options, and recommend an enterprise solution."

It comes to some interesting conclusions

  • Drupal is ranked 7 out of 8
  • The top three rankings are all proprietary solutions (Oracle being #1)

The end of the report weighs and grades each CMS on various categories. Its interesting to see where Drupal excels and where it was identified as insufficient.

The good news (I believe), is that many of the areas where we were identified as insufficient are being addressed in Drupal 8.

Anyway, I'll leave this here for anyone interested.




joel_osc's picture

This highlights a real challenge for those of competing on RFPs where the client is evaluating Drupal as a product. Many of the deficiencies they have outlined can be addressed with modules that already exist - you just need someone with the expertise on how to do it.

I also think many large organizations would rather spend a million on an Oracle product than $100k on the services required to make Drupal meet their requirements just because there is safety in the tangible. Large organizations also like having someone to blame, which they believe open source will not provide even though it is not true - just sign a support contract.

IMHO I think the safer, more costly decision is a mistake in the long run as the client will never have a product that meets the majority of their requirements as they will always be at the mercy of the large vendor's schedule and priorities which will likely never match those of the institution. Open source is not about cost, it is about control.

I teach at a local university that had evaluated Drupal as an LMS and eventually decided to use the most popular big vendor solution saying Drupal was a CMS and not an LMS. Since this product did not meet my needs I built my own LMS in Drupal and after only a week's worth of effort was able to demonstrate a Drupal LMS which had some very powerful capabilities! They were blown away - just a little too late though.

people too often evaluate

btopro's picture

people too often evaluate stock drupal instead of what you can quickly do with it. Oh well, ignorance is bliss i suppose :). Good on you for building a drupal based LMS, I'd be curious to see what modules you threw together to pull it off as it's an area I commonly work in as well.

Institutional bias?

autopoietic's picture

I have only skimmed this report, but one thing I have found within large institutions is that platform decisions like this are often made by the infrastructure team, rather than truly incorporating a wider range of stakeholder's requirements and in some cases, without acknowledging it, the reporting is written almost in retrospect, after having made decisions based on team/personal bias.

This kind of post rationalisation might still make absolute sense for the individual institution, because it implicitly avoids any problems of advocacy at the systems level, and is often derived straight from the skillset of the existing team. That said, the approach makes it really difficult to evaluate project requirements from first principles.

I felt that I detected a clear bias against open source as model for delivery or support, and that therefore all three open source CMS seemed dismissed out of hand, and without investigation.

I also found the following paragraph in the report interesting:

Of the 13 [peer institutions contacted], only 3 institutions (Minnesota - Twin Cities, University of Texas - Austin, and Pennsylvania State University) provided a centrally supported WCM and Penn State is deprecating that service in favor of distributed WCM support. Thus, it is clear that centrally supported WCMs are not a high priority at many institutions.

I believe the 'deprecated service' suggested of Penn State is actually the massive drupal multisite platform they use to provide web publishing to anyone who wants it. The multisite setup actually means that it is actually still a centrally supported WCMS, and their move to the distributed service might be worthy of consideration rather than dismissal, especially given that the shared platform could allow easy sharing and searching of content whilst allowing departments and individually to be less restricted in how they represent themselves, and to be able to share in any future developments of the platform.

Having said all the above, I love drupal partly because I have enough experience with it to be confident of its flexibility rather than put off by the organic modular nature. I would not personally suggest that an institution commit themselves to drupal for a large project unless they either have significant in house experience, or are prepared to buy in professional drupal support. Even if the alternative is to be straight jacketed by a rigid commercial system, that could be the optimal solution if the institution is not in a position to properly appraise and plan the drupal option.

I would suggest that the same institution invest in some basic drupal site building training (eg with Acquia) and then maybe use it for a suitable small project or even as a teambuilding activity so that they get some idea of its potential as a material for future use.


aitala's picture

The 'deprecated service' could also be that we are moving from Moveable Type to WordPress for blogging...


Drupal as LMS

autopoietic's picture

@joel_osc - I would be very interested to hear more of your experience and approach in using Drupal as an LMS, as it is something we have done for distance learning, though we have issues around advocacy for future projects.


oliviacis's picture

Where was Drupal found to be insufficient?

Not quite

aitala's picture

In regards to "I believe the 'deprecated service' suggested of Penn State is actually the massive drupal multisite platform they use to provide web publishing to anyone who wants it. "

I believe this refers to Penn State's WebLion group which is a centrally managed Plone group. Technically there is no central support for Drupal at Penn State. We did just move to Drupal for psu.edu public web site, but that's recent.

Eric Aitala
Penn State Drupaler

Higher Education

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