[consulting] Selling Drupal to consultants

Michael Haggerty mhaggerty at trellon.com
Mon Feb 13 08:16:15 UTC 2006

There are a lot of reasons to want to switch to Drupal. You can skin that
cat just about any way you choose.

Here's where you may wish to start for a list of features compared against
other content management systems:


1) Server Performance - Drupal stacks up nicely against other frameworks in
terms of performance. If you are into performance metrics, compare a drupal
app with something written in Fusebox, Struts, Mach-II, RoR, Plone, PHP-Nuke
or Mambo. Either you need to add another application into the server stack
(in the case of J2EE, this is very significant), deal with the intracies of
fast-cgi (which has definite performance caps), or have to put up with more
resources being used on each pageview (your mileage will vary depending on
how drupal is configured and which modules are installed).

2) Application Architecture - The page serving mechanism behind Drupal is
fairly transparent and well documented. Building new applications is a
matter of understanding the framework and how to take leverage existing
functionality. The framework has many great capabilities such as virtual
servers (the ability to run multiple sites off a single codebase), modular
architecture, theming, and more. Much of the work of building applications
is already done, meaning it lends itself to rapid application development.

3) Open Source - The GPL is a great thing when you think about how many
people are contributing to the Drupal core. Every day, there are thousands
of developers world wide working on Drupal, introducing new functionality
and fixing issues with the platform. The GPL places no requirement upon you
to release your proprietary applications to the world, meaning you can build
new modules for drupal and keep them as your own (although people respect
shops that release new projects). Drupal runs on top of a LAMP stack and
requires little or no licensing fees in order to operate. In terms of
manpower, it would cost millions of dollars a year to try to emulate this
environment under a proprietary model.

4) Features - The number of contributed modules for drupal expands every
day. Besides basic content management capabilities, drupal offers many cool
things like WYSIWYG text editors, event management tools similar to MeetUp,
Image Galleries, CRM functionality, and much more. Just showing people a
complete list of modules in the contributions folder is enough to open some

5) Cost to Maintain - While the initial cost of a drupal installation is
next to nothing, the cost to maintain an application is low as well. There
are a number of shops specializing in drupal that charge very low rates, and
this number is growing very quickly. The cost to train people to understand
your application architecture has a definite impact on the bottom line for
development. Hiring new developers, handing off work to a 3rd party, etc.
becomes more expensive when you have to train people on your architecture.
If your shop is ever in a bind and needs someone to pick up the overflow,
you have the advantage of working on a common platform with easily
understandable rules for building applications. There is no need for people
to understand the semantic rules of your proprietary framework and engage in
costly rewrites, like what your shop is having to do now.

6) Community - If something in drupal works differently than what you
expect, you have direct access to the architects of the product through
online forums, email and IRC. There are a variety of ways to address issues
including building custom modules, committing changes to the core, etc. Try
doing that with a proprietary application, if the original application
architects are still employed by the company they probably have no interest
in changing their product to fit your specific needs unless everyone is
complaining about it.

7) Focus on the Services - This is a business decision. Why concentrate on
the application when you can focus on the services around delivering it? If
you really want to build the world's greatest user management system, go
ahead and do that. If you really want to build the world's best blogging
platform, go ahead and do that. Otherwise, do not reinvent the wheel - there
are so many worthwhile Web sites people could be making instead of
developing ancillary tools to support them.

8) Not Going Away - Unlike other CMS platforms, the drupal cms and its
underlying modules are supported by an ecosystem of development shops,
non-profit organizations, and developers with a vested interest in the
platform's success. Short of a cataclysmic event, drupal is unlikely to go
away anytime soon. Remember Allaire's Spectra? Once considered the wave of
the future, it vanished one day when the company found it to be
unsustainable on a profit basis. Drupal will never go away due to budgetary
concerns, because development chiefly comes from unpaid volunteers.

9) PHP Rules - If you are an enterprise guy, .NET and J2EE have offered the
only real enterprise level computing platforms in terms of scalability and
reliablility. This is changing. If you follow any of the Gartner reports on
enterprise computing, you will see that a lot of research is coming out
attesting to the fact that PHP scales nearly as efficently as J2EE. PHP
itself is receiving various certifications for use in mission critical
systems (the details of which I am a little sketchy on, you would have to
research this yourself) and can be deployed as both a SAPI filter for Web
applications and as a tool for building desktop applications. This relates
to Drupal as part of a larger architecture, and means that you could
actually include it as part of a software rollout even in a military
organization without some nitpicker screaming about SDLCs and software

10) Drupal is Fun - Let's face it, you don't get people volunteering to work
on a CMS without there being something to make them want to. I have worked
within other communities centered around software platforms and never found
one as intreaguing as this. There's a whole political-technology-social
aspect to working on drupal that is a big change from the whole
corporate-profit-sustainability vibe with other platforms. Even Mambo, up
until recently, was mainly controlled by a single corporate entity. There
are times it feels like drupal is changing the way people think about CMS,
and the people in the community around the project make it more than just
some web application.

Thank you,
Michael Haggerty
Managing Partner
Trellon, LLC
(p) 301-577-6162
(c) 240-643-6561
(f) 413-691-9114
(aim) haggerty321 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: consulting-bounces at drupal.org 
> [mailto:consulting-bounces at drupal.org] On Behalf Of Larry Garfield
> Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2006 10:03 PM
> To: consulting at drupal.org
> Subject: [consulting] Selling Drupal to consultants
> The "Costs of forking" thread has focused on how to convince 
> clients that OSS software like Drupal is a good thing, and 
> that the benefits are worth it.  
> Good stuff. :-)  I have a slightly different problem, however.
> I work at a small web development consulting company that has 
> just doubled in size in the past few months.  The developer 
> (singular) who wrote our old codebase has mostly left, and 
> everyone agrees the old CMS code is unmaintainable.  Lucky 
> me, I get to write the new one. :-)  Fun as it sounds to 
> write a CMS from scratch on a deadline and then turn around 
> and use it on a client site almost immediately, I'd much 
> rather switch the company over to Drupal then write a rushed 
> Drupal-inspired hacked-up CMS.  I've mentioned it a few 
> times, and so far haven't gotten a firm no but mostly have 
> gotten waffling "we'll see".  
> If I can get an actual discussion on the table somehow, any 
> suggestions on how to sell both my fellow developers and 
> designers and management on Drupal?  
> They made it clear when I was hired that we're not an open 
> source shop, since I'm a big open source fan, although we do 
> current use some LGPLed stuff in various places and we make 
> it a point that we always own the code, not the client.  I 
> want to wedge that door wider, for my own sanity if nothing else. :-)
> Thoughts?
> -- 
> Larry Garfield			AIM: LOLG42
> larry at garfieldtech.com		ICQ: 6817012
> "If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all 
> others of exclusive property, it is the action of the 
> thinking power called an idea, which an individual may 
> exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but 
> the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the 
> possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess 
> himself of it."  -- Thomas Jefferson 
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