Making the Business Case for Open Source Drupal [October 10, 2012]
Making the Business Case for Open Source Drupal [October 10, 2012]
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Many organizations are evaluating and building business cases for web content management (WCM) systems. In this webinar, we will discuss the four elements of a business case: costs and cost reductions; enabling value in effectiveness of business process; Drupal and open source benefits; and managing risk. We will review several white papers that provide guidance on the costs of using a WCM. We will outline how several large organizations use Drupal to drive value in their business processes and as their mobile web platform. We will also examine how risk is managed with Drupal by diverse organizations, such as US Federal agencies and others, as well as how large media and publishing enterprises continue to publish content uninterrupted during sudden, unexpected traffic spikes. This webinar will help Drupal advocates build a business case for open source Drupal in their organizations.
Hannah: HI, everyone. Today’s webinar is Making the Business Case For Open Source Drupal with Kieran Lal, the technical director of enterprise sales here at Acquia. Kieran was employee number two of Acquia and recently celebrated his five-year anniversary. Congrats, Kieran. He has served on the Drupal Association board of directors where he focused on business development. We’re really happy to have him presenting today.
Kieran: Great. As Candace said, I’m Kieran Lal. I’m going to talk a little bit about the making the business case for Drupal and OP source. I think that the first thing that we’ve seen is just a huge amount of adoption worldwide with what we estimate to be around million sites or more than a million sites. More importantly, where Drupal’s really accelerating in its adoption which is with large organizations dealing with the more complex websites, and so we see lots of big media organizations that are standardizing and building Drupal as one of their key platforms, a lot of big media brands, universities, particularly in the United States, the adoption of Drupal and universities are sort of becoming the de facto standard. We’re now starting to see three, actually it’s moved from two to three of the global large music companies, so Sony, Warner Music, and Universal, now all starting to adopt Drupal as their platform of choice for their media brands and then about 130 nations using Drupal for government websites and now there’re number of people from the government, different government agencies here, so I’d encourage you to check out our wiki page of several thousand government websites, national websites, and regional websites. We’re also starting to see a significant adoption of Drupal in the global pharmaceuticals. As people are starting to build platforms and brands around their pharmaceuticals and they want to build a repeat features and functionality of their site quickly they’re starting to use Drupal.
One of the reasons that I mention this is because it’s good to understand why these organizations who have adopted Drupal has paved the pathway for you as you’re thinking about building the business case for Drupal. I actually come from a bit of an unusual background within the Drupal project. I started off as a programmer myself and ran some technology labs. Then, when I came over to the Drupal community, I found that there were tons and tons of programmers here but there were very few people who could really articulate the value in the business of the business advantages of Drupal. I sort of switched from being a classic sandal wearing, ripped jeans kind of guy to being the suit and was frequently known as one of the few guys, if not the only guy, in the Drupal community who wore a suit and wore it all the time. This actually became a bit of problem because some people were like, “The suits are here. This is terrible.” One of the things I did was when we had our Drupal cons to make people feel like the Drupal platform wasn’t being taken over by the suits. I had decided to change, to dress up a little bit and help out. Here’s a picture of me at Drupal Con London last year dressed up as a beefeater and then more recently at Drupal Con Denver dressed up as a cowboy going on the themes. Part of this was to really bridge that gap between how do we articulate the value of open source, grass roots programming model all the way up into the corporate office, the suit, having a little bit of fun with that motif here.
What I want to do is talk today a little bit about the business case for Drupal and really take you through four different things that you need to be considering. The costs and cost reductions. This is the one where a lot of people focus up front but when they actually get into it and you get further along in the decision making process the cost becomes less significant but they’re still important. Enabling of value in effectiveness of business processes, I’ll really walk through some concrete examples of organizations who use Drupal to help with their business processes. Flexibility, a key decision. A lot of people are coming off in existing CMS today or sets of HTML pages and they find themselves extremely limited by what they can do, and so they’re not abatable. Basically, their CMS did not adapt into the business. The last, and most importantly I think, is risk. The organizations, extreme large organizations are really first and foremost mitigating the risks that they’re willing to take in a CMS platform decision, and so being able to address that case is absolutely critical.
What I’m going to do now is I’m going to work through a little bit of the total costs of ownership angle. I think this is important that people have this down and really understand this, but I also want to put that caveat that it’s only part of the equation. We’re getting some feedback, at least from one person, that they’re having trouble seeing the slides. If you are having trouble seeing the slides, feel free to drop into the Q&A box and let Hannah know and we’ll make sure that the right slides are coming through. When you go to do your cost model there’re a few things that you need to take into consideration. Number one your license fees. If you’re buying a proprietary CMS there’s going to be a clear license fee. There’s also typically a maintenance and support fee that goes along with a proprietary product. In Drupal, the license fee for Drupal no matter how many instances you have is zero. It’s a free license. It’s an open source license under the GPL version 2+ or higher. However, there are realistic maintenance and support costs that go on with that and they’re comparable to what you can see with a CMS and you should be planning to have a budget for that. There’s an implementation cost often where the bulk of the capital costs that people are spending get put in, and so that’s often hiring or developing an internal web development team and having that team focus on the project anywhere from days to months to years.
Training costs are important. Often organizations have existing technical talent that are sophisticated web talent or sophisticated CMS talent, and it’s merely a matter of taking them through a training program so retool their skills onto this new web platform. Then, there’s also a content editor training challenge. Many organizations have dozens if not hundreds of content editors, some cases there are people using Drupal who have literally thousands and tens of thousands of content editors on their Drupal sites. There’s a training program that has to go on to help people, content editors, to be effective with the CMS. You can’t just put them in front of a CMS interface and expect them to succeed, particularly if the business demands some complex work flows where there’s a specific way of the business to CMS. They’re going to have to learn how to do those beyond just what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing.
There’s typically ongoing development. One of the things that we see with a lot of organizations is that once Drupal is deployed it deploys pretty quickly compared to other CMS solutions that they’ve had in the past. They really get excited about the rate of change that they can have with Drupal. The business starts asking for more and more features and what that means is that there’s typically an ongoing development cost that keeps on going, and then, of course, there’s an administration cost. From time to time, you have to think about what does it mean to administer my costs either managing content from external community and managing content internally but also administering the site in terms of applying security updates, patch and feature updates in the modules, taking advantage of new features that are coming out and refactoring parts of your sites, so it’s more maintainable, more flexible going forward. Those are the six buckets of costs that you need to think about. I won’t go into too much detail about that. I’ve gone about as far as I want to go in terms of detailed costs.
I do want to point you to a paper called the TCO for Open Source Social Publishing. There’s a bit.ly link on the top corner of this page that you can go in and get to it or you could search on that title in Google and it’ll show up. This is a fairly detailed whitepaper, eight to 10 pages long. It really goes into what are the costs typical for a proprietary CMS and the prices that you’ll pay for that versus what would the cost be for using open source Drupal. I think in a lot of cases you’ll see the costs are shift in some cases and in other cases the costs are really significantly lower in comparison, and particularly your flexibility and certain features are important to you. Also, a lot of people think about not of just having the CMS but does it actually take to operate the CMS to keep it up and running, keep it supported, keep it scalable, keep it flexible, make it adapt to you business. That’s a separate cost consideration, and we have a nice whitepaper that I worked on called Get a Grip on Your Hosting Costs for High Volume Website and where you can really go into detail, think about all the different costs that are involved, what does it take to hire talent and staff, and what do you pay for hardware, and what does it really take to turn and optimize and get great performance from folks. That’s a great whitepaper that really gets into the costs between cost of the CMS and the cost of the hosting.
Then, if you’re a slightly more independent view of the world these last two whitepapers are from Acquia. You can go and take a look at this paper from the London School of Economics. Again, you can get a copy off Acquia, but it was produced independently and we just happened to have distribution capabilities for it and it was produced by the United Kingdom Cabinet office on open source. This gives you a nice overview of factors to consider, cultural factors, cost factors, internal tooling, and skills factors when using open source and what are the advantages. This is a great paper to help build your business case.
What does this all really mean? I think at the end of the day you probably are thinking about you have to go build this business case and you have to take it to your CEO. What your CEO is really considering is not just the business case itself but what they’re really thinking about in terms of what are my capital costs and what are my operating costs, so how much initial outlay do I have to put out to get the site up and running and built, and then once it’s built and running what are the operating costs. That’s really what your CEO is asking you, not these esoteric important considerations but more of an academic or an analyst view of what the costs are. Your CEO is looking for clearer pragmatic dollar consideration. You have to take that.
What that means is that often when they’re thinking about those sort of immediate costs we’re really dealing with perceived costs, so software costs, free to use, implementation costs. We often see implementation costs around Drupal being 30% less than proprietary often because there’s not a big talent pool for the proprietary CMSs and there’s very large pools for open source because it’s so accessible, and also because a lot of proprietary CMSs are built off more classic enterprise languages which have a smaller pool and more expensive pool of talent. That could be an issue. Whereas, languages like PHP are more accessible, so there’re more people around the world that use them and because people are more likely to take a career path of setting up a hobby site or a site for their friend and really like using Drupal, start doing some consulting, then graduate into a full-time position. The size and the talent pool is very large around Drupal and that helps to keep costs down a little. Drupal’s very popular, and as a result there’s a huge percent of competition for talent in the market today. Then, maintenance and support, what we see is in our calculations often enterprise commercial support at certain levels is 20% of proprietary costs and where we see platform as a service which is a new trend in the industry around what does it take to have a dedicated application hosting environment called platform is a service. We’ll often see that many people in the community have been in the Drupal community for a long time have built up these custom hosting platforms internally. When they actually factor what it takes to maintain them, keep them up to date, keep all the tools, keep the staff and do all that, that they see as much as 40% savings when they switch over to having someone help as opposed to building the whole stack themselves.
From savings standpoint, one of the things that’s really key is that often when people do a CMS option they’ll find that that CMS is targeted at a specific niche. This CMS is meant to do the corporate CMS or the CMS is meant to be a microsite CMS or the CMS is meant to be a SAAS CMS. One of the things great things about Drupal is Drupal does all of those things really well and so it lends itself to consolidation. By consolidating or reducing the total number CMSs you can reduce the total number of technical teams that you have to build on the CMS and you can reduce the total footprint of operational costs, and so that consolidation is critical in terms of saving money. Many organizations, we’ll talk a little bit more, but a lot of universities or governments are seeing huge cost savings by consolidating onto a single open source CMS that’s really flexible, can meet the full range of needs in an organization. When it comes to vendor selection, if you buy a proprietary CMS often you’re tied to just one single vendor. Because it’s an open source license you can come to a vendor which is a vendor that targets corporations and enterprise primarily, but by no means are you down to just using Acquia. There’re huge, thousands of vendors out there who are providing different levels of implementation services around Drupal, or you can go and hire talent directly into your organization so you get a lot of freedom. Within that freedom, if your budget isn’t a large budget project then you might want to go with a small vendor that’s used to building small or lower budget projects and you’re also not tied to what could be a very small pool of national very large agencies that know how to do these large complex implementations. You can actually go and find a local vendor in your community who knows Drupal and can help you or use open source and that can help.
Last but no least, Drupal is also because it’s grown up as a grass roots worldwide platform from it’s very inception has always been focused on internationalization because it was started by Belgians because it was a team of people who spoke Dutch and English and Flemish and New French, and then had early developers who were eastern European languages or other European languages, and so Drupal had a very strong internationalization presence. A lot of businesses that are thinking about expanding internationally or supporting a customer base that is multilingual want to be able to have a Drupal site that can serve those many markets, so we see a common model where somebody stands up a Drupal site and as they go global and start to support more and more languages they’re quickly able to reuse that CMS to support those multiple languages. There’s significant cost savings from that.
I talked a little bit about Drupal as a platform standard. This is a great slide that really shows how Drupal can serve a wide variety of sites. We see community sites and product sites and corporate sites and marketing microsites. Because all these sites are available you just use Drupal as your standard platform and then build a wide variety of sites as opposed to having to go out and say we’re going to use this blogging service for this service, and then for this model we’re going to use as SAAS service, and over here we’re going to use Tumblr, and over here we’re going to use a big enterprise service, and then for this product campaign we’re going to buy an enterprise SAAS, and so you don’t end up with all these different costs and different teams. You just have one platform that works for everybody.
That’s a review of our costs starting off with initially looking at all the different things that are going to be initial costs, a list of six different costs that you have to address, but then really recognizing once you get through those and looking at some whitepapers that you’re going to have to have really take this up to your CEO or take it up to a stakeholders approved budget, and so they’re really focused on operating and capital costs. Then, thinking a little more a long term about what are the potential savings from that. All of those things may be factored into costs and cost reductions. This first part of our presentation is really been more of the classic academic view of sitting down and taking out a pencil and paper and really trying to figure out what it’s going to cost for a CMS.
Now we’re going to start getting into some of the things where a business really thinks about what is the CMS really do for my business and how does it actually make my business work better? We’re going to talk about the effectiveness of business processes. You’ll have to think about things like how do I update my website, how do I do content websites, what different services can I offer. Many organizations they’re in a situation where today they have a call center and they get a certain volume of calls into that call center and there are possibilities that they could put a nice little application that answers people’s questions like an FAQ or a little chat box or a forum or some kind of group where many of those questions could be answered quickly, and more easily, and convenient for customers rather than having everybody call in. Those kinds of additional customer services can be really effective because Drupal doesn’t just manage content, it’s also a full web application framework so you can build custom applications to service the needs of your business.
Because Drupal is open source and it’s freely available it has had a huge amount of contributions to it by thousands of developers around the world, and so it has a tremendous amount of features in it. it also has a very large pool of contributed modules, almost 19,000 contributed modules. That doesn’t mean that those contributed modules always perfectly or in combination always perfectly give your business exactly what you need, but it can give you a very significant leg up where you’re trying to do a common application that’s a well known architecture pattern for the web. By using this series of site building modules you can save a huge amount of custom development and have a lot of flexibility for the future if you need to change it because these are modules that are well architected and reusable, and so you get a tremendous amount of labor savings for your developers where they can click to do things, put together a site, in a very quick fashion.
You also can get some productivity savings. If people have traditionally been paying a webmaster to go edit HTML and now all of a sudden somebody’s in a content editing role on the marketing team or somebody who’s not very technical is able to push content live to the website which was previously very limited to technical world. There can be really significant savings there. Also, because the website is administerable through a user interface they don’t have to get down to the command line. They don’t have to be a very technical person to manage the website and so that can really help.
Then, one of the other things that we see certainly at Acquia, we spend a significant amount of our budget on outbound marketing and inbound marketing, and so some of the things that we do are search engine marketing. We’ll put ads so that if you go to Google.com and you type in enterprise Drupal you’re likely to see an ad from Acquia at some point or other. It’s really important for us to not only have a search engine marketing spend, but we also want to make sure our website is really well search engine optimized so that if there’s a chance for us to get a link on the front page of whatever query you put into Google that you’re likely to click through and get to us and that’s sort of free marketing for us, and so making sure our site is well optimized is really critical.
We have a number of people who registered for the call today and I’m not sure exactly, I haven’t checked and saw who’s on, but there was certainly on group of folks which was a number of people from the higher education base. We saw Babson College and Jefferson University Hospitals and the University of Washington, the University of Toronto, and the University of South Africa had registered for this conference. I think this a great example of organizations that are standardizing on Drupal, reusing it, trying to make it work across a wide variety of needs from the main university website to their alumni fundraising to professor’s websites, to student project websites.
What I want to do is spend a little bit of time talking about a college that’s closer to our headquarters there in Boston which is Harvard University. Harvard’s recently within the last year we launched their Harvard.edu on Drupal. They’ve built out a really great site that I think shows some great examples. In this particular case, they’re really four missions for higher education. They’re first recruiting, and so they want to be able to get people to come to school and pay tuition and be educated. In this case, you can see right there in their information architecture apply to Harvard, link for parents who are likely to be involved in paying for that school, and then getting admissions and aid. First mission, recruiting and you can see how this Drupal site clearly makes it easy for people to accomplish that recruiting goal.
The next is that higher education institutions really focus on teaching and learning, and so in this case we see that there’s a city lecture series so that people can visit and come to campus and be able to see a series. There’s a link directly to the faculty there. There’s a list of the courses, and then there’s also access to a few things in the library and academic research as well as other research that’s going on campus. That teach and learning component is really critical, and so the information architecture points people to that to help accomplish the mission.
Universities are being increasingly scrutinized for the huge rise in tuition fees. Nationally, at least in the United States, we’ve seen total tuition that’s managed by the Federal government or assisted by the Federal government hit almost a trillion dollars. There’s been a lot of question in about all of this money that’s being lent to students and whether or not it’s turned out to be a proper economic and educational investment. With that, comes a lot of scrutiny. In fact, some schools are being threatened that if they don’t improve the employment of their the students who are graduating and from what they’re being taught that they face some forms of sanctions or some forms of pullbacks in terms of their ability to get access to Federal dollars as well as potentially student loans for the students who want to come to the campus which is a real threat to their economic model. Employment is absolutely critical, and so obviously people graduating from Harvard want to see placement. We have really high unemployment rates for young people, particular between the ages of 20 and 25 as the economy’s slowed down.
Last but not least, we want to raise money. Building endowments, getting people to put gifts in their bereavements or to donate a certain percentage of their income back to their alumni, sometimes they do it because they love the sport team, sometimes they do it because they’re loyal or they have a great memory, they met their spouse on campus, they want their kids to go that particular campus, and so they believe that making donations that it’s a great way to stay close to the university over time. This is the fourth mission integrate university. If we look at them all together we see recruiting students, raising funds, teaching and learning, and job placements. This is a great example of how open source Drupal can be used to accomplish the mission of higher education to really focus on the business processes of a higher ed campus.
Just to summarize again, the first thing we looked at was the costs and different ways to model costs, and look at costs and savings. Then, in the second phase we focused on the effectiveness of business processes, so website and content updating, customer service, labor saving through developers, productivity savings, the amount of people using the website, and savings in sales and marketing from improved SEO can really give a concrete example of how a university was able to apply the business processes to the Drupal site.
The next thing that we want to take a look at is flexibility. Flexibility is really critical and we often hear training of evaluation phase that the existing CMS is being replaced because it just can’t do what the business needs it to do, or there’s a lot of tension or a lot of frustration between he vision that the marketing team has and capacity that the IT team has to deliver what they want with their current CMS. Flexibility is critical. Flexibility can mean a lot of things. At the very high level, flexibility means I can deploy Drupal as an Internet on private network inside my company, or it can mean that I put it into a cloud service and so I’m able to host my public website externally, or it could mean that I want to consume Drupal as a different deployment model as a SAAS model. It can also mean that you deploy Drupal in a multisite configuration so that you can have one code base but dozens or hundreds of sites potentially. There’re lots of different ways that Drupal can be deployed, and because of the way the license is free and because you have to access to source code there’s no real restrictions about what CPUs or where you deploy Drupal. That offers a lot of flexibility. We also see that Drupal as it grew up really focused on a number of things. When Dries was student in his dormitory he was working on parts of the Linux kernel and particularly documenting some parts of that. He believed that he should follow along and in that open nature that the Linux project could have, and so Drupal has always tried to adopt web standards and open stadards so there was interoperability. Because of that, at the heart of it, you’ll always see Drupal adopting those standards very early on. We also see that a large of number of organizations want to put a lot of data, particularly when they’re when they’re building complex web applications, and so we’ve always had open data formats and support for open data. That can extend to things like semantic formats. Some proof in the pudding, for example, there’s a been of number of large initiatives recently where governments have stood up open data sites and so we’ve seen organizations like data.gov.uk expose most of the national data through a Drupal site and data.gov here in the United States has exposed a lot of data through their site, and then recently just in the last few months I think India has exposed their open data site in Drupal as well. That’s a great example.
Then, last but not least, is open SAAS. Open SAAS is a really unique model. A lot of organizations are increasingly looking at their IT portfolio and saying, “We don’t want to manage this anymore. We really want it to be managed outside,” and so we see people turning to the cloud or turning to SAAS vendors and trying to get it open. There’s a good upside about that. It can be very effective. You don’t have to maintain a lot of technical talent. It just works as a service. It has great service level agreements behind it, and you pay a nice operating cost, and it all taken care of. That’s great. Probably one of the better known organizations for doing this is Sales Force who’s a very early adopter of cloud technology and software as a service. The caveat if that if you ever decide that you want to integrate more tightly those software as a service applications into your IT systems you may be in a steroid injection where you’re limited by the road map of the vendor. One of the nice things about Drupal is that you can have it in SAAS format through a product called Drupal Gardens and there’re a few others in the community. If at any time you want to take your site out of that SAAS environment you get your source code, you get your data, you get everything you, and then you take it and move away. That’s really a great option for a lot of organizations that are looking for I do manage low cost sites, lots of microsites and be able to roll them out.
The other thing around flexibility is talent. Many organizations if they either have a custom CMS or they have a proprietary CMS the talent pools are extremely small around those CMSs, and so working on an open source project gives you a lot of access to a very amount of talent and you can switch back and forth over time to look at different talent whether you go with internal talent, external talent, you go to an agency there’s a lot of Drupal talent in the world. We also see best of breed integration. Many organizations (I'll show a slide in a little bit) are really talking about how do I integrate not just my CMS, but I need to integrate it into my newsletter mailing systems, I need to integrate it into my CRM, I need to integrate into my enterprise marketing management systems, I need to integrate into my backend proprietary applications. Drupal’s built to integrate, and so if you need to tie it into some different business systems there’s a really high probability that if you go on drupal.org and look for a module there is a module to tie. If you haven’t, there’s probably one that very similar that can be based on it, and so your developer can build a module to tie into it.
Drupal by its very nature is agile. It’s developed in an agile methodology. The idea is that from architecture standpoint it starts off as a very lean core, and then as you need features over time you can add these small reusable modules that allow you to deploy more features in a short period of time as opposed to more of a proprietary CMS where it’s a gigantic proprietary one-time install and hopefully it has all of the features that your organization needs. Drupal’s really built around adding more things over time.
Then, last but not least, is the ability to keep up with innovation. I have a couple of slides where I’ll talk about some of that innovation. Certainly, the things that we’re seeing going on today is the huge shift to the mobile web, and so being able to tie your Drupal site into a mobile browsing experience or having a native mobile app or a native iPad app or a native tablet app is something that there’s a lot of stuff. If you go today to iTunes you can download the Drupal Gardens Drupal app, and then simply installing the mass module for Drupal 7 on your site you can have a native content offering experience with your Drupal site on a mobile application. Also, projects like Sparq which is a distribution to Drupal that’s hosted on Drupal.org you can have some really rich mobile editing experiences. We’re also seeing people want to tie Drupal into other products and other services. One of the things we’re seeing is a huge explosion of the social web. Marketers want to reach out where that audience is which on Facebook and Twitter and Google Plus and YouTube and things like that. They want to be able to tie their Drupal site in so that when they publish content on their Drupal site it also gets published out to Twitter, out to the social web. Then, people comment they’re actually able to interact on a Facebook app or a Twitter app that’s actually running in Drupal if just being exposed through that social media portal. That ability to have that integration is really key. The weight of the social web is incredible. It’s very difficult to keep up.
Earlier I talked a little about the best of breed tools. This is a great slide. It really talks about how you can line up your social media, your marketing automation, your CMS, your analytics tied into Drupal, and then on the other side of the equation where you have all these backend systems that are doing these measurements you’re then able to push forward and do all kinds of measurements of external applications like the primary website, your mobile app, your social and Facebook, Twitter, your campaigns, your video portal. It’s has that innovation, that integration is really critical.
I want to now start to get into some more case studies or some more concrete examples of things. This is a great picture from 2012 Olympics where in the women’s, I think, four by 100 relay the broke the world record. It’s one of those moments where Twitter is just all a buzz, a lot of people watching this, really, really exciting event that a lot of people wanted to experience in real time. One of the challenges that organizations like this had was how they do deal with this explosion integration of real time media. One organization that had to deal with this was NBC Sports. They had actually won the Olympic contracts in a previous round of bidding but most recently renewed in 2011. One of the challenges they got was how do I deliver content experience through television around the dinner hour when most of my viewers are watching yet at the same time this acknowledgement that most of the Olympics are being consumed by people in social media at the same time. They had received a lot of criticism around the Vancouver Olympics about this and there was even some estimates that they had lost hundreds of millions of dollars on the Vancouver Olympics. When the bidding came up for the 2011 Olympics there was a lot of focus on what is NBC going to do in order to be savvy around the social media, this more of a real time experience, how are they going to innovate this very old classic American TV company, how are they going to be able to innovate at the pace that the web is going. They went out and they did an evaluation of the CMS platform that they looked at it, and because there had been a lot of success within the broader NBC family, NBC Universal family with Drupal they had Drupal as a contender. I was brought in early on after I gave a talk not that similar to this one at NBC to help them with part of their evaluation to Drupal. In the end, they did go ahead and they did select Drupal. Part of the reason why they did they were in this situation where they were competitive, the bids had gotten very high, up to 4.4, almost 4.4 billion dollars to get the Olympics, the U.S. network for the Olympics through 2020, so a huge amount of money on the table and they had to be able to say we don’t want to get caught like we did in Vancouver again where we were stuck on a platform, we’re not able to innovate at the rate that Twitter and Facebook and all these things are happening, we need to be able to keep up in real time.
They chose Drupal because it was, at least in part because it was incredibly innovative platform that they had a huge community of talent, they had a lot of innovation, they had a lot of flexibility because who knows what’s going to happen in 2012 today. What’s the web going to look like in 2020 when you’re delivering that last game with that web experience? For that bid and for the London Olympics in 2012 they had to really focus on delivering that platform, so we worked with them to deliver their mobile site for NBC Sports and are now working with them to deliver a wide variety of other platforms due to the success of that platform for other properties within the parent organization Comcast.
Another thing that you want to be thinking about when it comes to innovation is it’s great to hear that there are innovative Drupal developers out there, but how do you really deal with getting that talent within your organization? One of the nice things that I encourage people to do is when they’re building a business case for Drupal and they’re thinking about the flexibility to have really being able to address the total amount of talent. One of the nice things about Drupal is that it has a very large talent pool. In fact, on LinkedIn if you go into LinkedIn/skills and you type in Drupal you’ll see that there’re 62,000 people on LinkedIn with Drupal skills. Obviously, that’s probably some expected distribution of the quality of talent over time, but certainly on Drupal.org there’s over a million people registered, and so not everybody has Drupal on their resume on LinkedIn. It’s a very large pool, and so there’re some really amazing people doing a lot of interesting work out there.
I’m going to point out just three people. I recently gave this talk in Texas. There three folks happen to be from Texas, but they’re indicative of the talent that’s available. Chris Rupple with Fourkitchens in Houston doing a lot of really innovative work around responsive teams, how do you have a team to automatically adapt to a desktop size to a tower size to a smart phone size. He’s been doing really great work in that space. That’s kind of become the de facto for the future of the web right now is that when build a Drupal site you build with a theme that takes the assumption that there will be a mobile experience if necessary right from the ground up and it’s built into the theme to be available at all three sizes. In the middle, is a partner is ours based in Dallas, guy named Tom McCracken. Tom McCracken’s been doing a lot of really interesting work around Drupal through an initiative called the App Store or Drupal Apps. The idea here is that we’ve always had all these site building and reusable components that have been really great from a technical site building perspective, but we wanted to create more of an experience for a site builder or an end user. He’s been really working on how do we combine the power and the flexibility of this great architecture and improve the figurability of Drupal to the point where you can click a button and say I want this feature on my site, I want that feature on my site. Tom has been doing some really amazing work with his team around Drupal Apps, in particular through a distribution that’s he's got called open enterprise. Last but not least, is a guy named Mark Sonnenbaum. Mark actually, also in the Dallas area, but he actually works for Acquia remotely and he’s our top performance engineer. Mark does a lot of really innovative stuff and he has very strong opinions like many engineers do. In particular, he focuses alot on performance. He’s been doing a lot of work on caching and scalability. If you want to laugh and if you know Mark or you want to see some of the personalities you go to a website called what would Mark Sonnenbaum do and you’ll see some anecdotes that a group of his friends have put together about some of his best known blurbs when it comes to scalability and performance of Drupal. Again, really amazing talent of people who aren’t necessarily working for you company and aren’t necessarily on your team, but if you’re using Drupal these are team Drupal for you. They are innovators who are doing amazing work for you and having access to these people who are just constantly day in day out doing great work that you’ll be able to benefit from using Drupal is really key to flexibility.
We’ve started to see more government sites use it. We have a number of people from different government sites. There are regional folks from British Columbia and Maine and some other regional governments. In particular, there’re folks at the national level who are on the call and I wanted to point out some of them. We have some folks from the SLAC which is the Stanford linear accelerator, part of the Department of Energy but located on the Stanford campus, or just off the Stanford campus, really interesting work there. We’ve also seen the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced that they’re likely to put Drupal and they’ve put out some bids and working through the bidding process right now. One of the things that’s really interesting is NIST is part of the Department of Commerce and Department of Commerce has been one of the earliest adopters of Drupal. You’ll see at doc.gov as well as many of the commerce sites. In fact, one of the things that was really interesting in terms of the communities that are using it is that the Department of Energy actually does these really interesting programs where they have Twitter parties where they get together and you can get on Twitter and you can chat with these people who are linear accelerator physicists and quantum physicists. In fact, one of the things that just recently happened was just yesterday the Nobel prize winners in physics were announced. One of the physicists at NIST was award winner and therefore a member of government Department of Commerce is actually a Nobel prize winner. That’s some really exciting times and I’m sure you’ll see some stuff posted to Twitter and through the websites as they work on their social media strategy around somebody in the Department of Commerce or NIST winning a Nobel prize. We also have a wide adoption of Drupal throughout the United Nations, and so we actually some folks helping to get the acronym right, but I think it’s the Economic Commission for Latin America. We’ve seen a large number of non-governmental organizations, like the United Nations, like the World Bank, adopt Drupal and in a really big way because they need flexibility.
A little closer to home, we started to see some organizations adopt Drupal. This is actually a website for a grocery chain in the United States called Whole Foods. Whole Foods does a lot of interesting stuff. They wanted to create really great experiences. One of the things they do is if you’ve spent any time in a Whole Foods they have these really beautiful store layouts, just lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. When you walk in, they always have these beautiful displays of food. They really spend a lot of time thinking about what is the experience when people go into our store. When it came to their web presence, they wanted a really great web presence. They started by launching a magazine on Drupal called Dark Rye that really showcases some recipes and talks about unconventional ideas and innovation and creative things around that. Finally, when that was project was a success they actually moved WholeFoods.com over to Drupal. The big focus here from an innovation standpoint was really on personalization. Their focus was they have about 250-300 stores throughout the United States. They’re constantly growing and adding. They wanted people not to just come to their store. It’s know it’s very hard to see, but if you see the second cow from the left on the top left it says welcome in some white lettering and it actually says Potrero Hills which where I’m broadcasting. Potrero Hills is a neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, and so about a mile from me is Whole Foods. I spend a lot of time there. One of the things they do is they give me the opportunity to log in and select my store for Whole Foods, and then at that store they actually have somebody whose job it is to go and put Potrero Hills specific content onto the website, so that when I go to the website either as a mobile experience or from my desktop experience I get personalized content that’s specific to my store and that I’m interested in. At the same time, they have a national strategy where the national brand can push down content and override what’s at the local store. If they have an anniversary that’s store specific because that store, just like me just had its fifth year anniversary, and so they had some specials on one day. Then, if there’s a national event they can override that content and decide what’s going to be on the home page. That ability to do customization and personalization is really critical to the mission of Whole Foods to create the kind of experience that they want to create.
We see this focus on innovation being really critical for everybody. Here’s a great example. Probably most of you have heard of Pinterest or Facebook just yes launched a competitive feature to Pinterest. Pinterest is the new hot social network. In February 2012, it was the first web property to reach 10 million unique visitors per month. Incredible rate of growth and you can see that nice little hockey stick style growth inside the Pinterest 10 million uniques logo there on the left-hand side. What happened if somebody got on Drupal.org and said Pinterest is now at 11 million users, could we add Pinterest capabilities to Drupal? A month later, sure enough, a developer in the Drupal community went out and created a Pinterest module and so there was Pinterest integration in 15 sites going live with Pinterest capabilities and integrated into the Drupal site.
If you think about that level of innovation what it does from just something big happens in the world, a few weeks later somebody gets on and says can I have this, and then a couple week later after that you’re actually people live in production with that feature. Take that and compare that to a proprietary CMS there’s no way they’re going to have that ability to put that into a road map. It just doesn’t work. They just don’t have that huge pool of talent of people around the world, tens of thousands of people around the world who are building custom sites and are contributing back components of what they’re delivering to their customers back to the big pool to make a huge difference in terms of the ability to innovate.
Again, just a quick summary of our third point. First point being cost and cost savings; our second point being adapting to business processes, getting value and value effectiveness out of business processes; and our third point being flexible. We talked about different deployment models, ways to push Drupal out in terms of SAAS and open and private Internets, and then we talked a lot about talent and innovators and people who can be effectively on your Drupal team to help you innovate and how is it agile. Then, we talked a little bit about a couple of different organizations both in government as well as a retail organization like Whole Foods that’s using Drupal to create great personalization experiences.
The thing I want to talk about is risk. Risks is probably the most important component here because really if the organization ultimately perceives that Drupal is too risky because they don’t understand it or they perceive open source to be too risky no matter all effective all the other things are, they just simply won’t pick it. Tackling the risk profile is really critical. There’re a lot of things that you have to think about in risk. The first is that it’s not just a matter of writing a check or getting an insurance policy. Managing risk and managing open source requires real change in the thinking of the organization if they haven’t adopted it yet. Most IT organizations are dabbling or have dabbled particularly around Linux source some kind of systems tools, but to be at the application level it may be a little less common. Thinking about open source applications requires real change. You also have to think about elasticity and some security. Procurement can be a real challenge. A lot of organizations are used to going through proprietary vendors license and saying we will accept this clause, we won’t accept that clause, and then all of a sudden they want to know who they can sue if the Drupal site doesn’t do exactly what they want. That’s a way a lot of enterprise procurement offices work. They want to put all kinds of clauses. They want to say that they own the rights to the security. They own the rights to the software. They want special clauses that if Drupal ever goes bankrupt that they’re guaranteed that they get access to the source code and kinds of things which they get out of the gate, and so they have trouble understanding this. Having to work through your procurement team to help them to understand what does it mean to work with an open source licensed product. Licenses, obviously, aren’t an issue. Champions are really critical. If you want to see Drupal succeed with their organization there’s almost always, always a champion, somebody who really understands the organization, understands the road map, who the stakeholders are, how the decisions are being made, what are the concerns of the organization and they’re able to translate those business concerns into advantages for Drupal, ways that they can explain the successes of Drupal to help it. Then, you deal with IT strategy, and then the fact that with a Drupal site because it’s going to be successful, because it’s going to offer a lot of business features you’re going to be probably doing a lot of development over time.
This is a picture I’m going to just tell you a quick anecdote about risk and risk management. This is a picture of Dries Buytaert the founder of the Drupal Project in I believe 2004, I think 2004 in December. This was his first presentation, Drupal 4.5 had just been released and he was flown out to Vancouver. In particular, he was flown out to work with a company out in Vancouver called Bright, one of the early evangelists and one of the teams of the really great top tier Drupal people who are contributing. It turns out that they had a really interesting customer. They had a customer that wanted to build a series of university styles sites that basically collaborated, but it was a very particular use case. Part of what they do is they have this organization called the National Defense University in I believe it’s in D.C. or Maryland, in that area. What they do is they teach advanced strategies, tactics, counterinsurgency, non-proliferation, all those kinds of things. We actually have people from our allies around the world come and take classes at the National Defense University. They may come take a class on counterinsurgency or border protection. These are advanced graduate level classes, so these are Ph.D., masters level classes, post doc level classes, very smart people, strong commitments. They’re coming, but they want to keep the dialog going after. Actually, as part of a larger initiative in the United States Department of Defense they have something called the Security Cooperation Agency. United States spends a fairly large amount of money, actually I think more money than the next 17 largest militaries in the world combined. Part of having a successful national strategy is having allies and strong relationships. Part of the way you keep those relationships is when people come and do training with you when they go back to their countries to their defense work they’re able to have a dialog. What the Department of Defense did through the Security Cooperation Agency was to create a series of 17 sites. They created the 17 community sites what actually based on Drupal Commons and some additional features on top of that. They wanted to be able to host these and manage them worldwide. Today, we’re able to host those and we host them in Acquia cloud. All these organizations that are really focused on security and how do we collaborate across borders. They maybe not state level department secret talks or not necessarily operational military mission level talks, but there are people talking important questions and the questions that not necessarily governments want publicly exposed, so security in the cloud and security with Drupal is really paramount. The Department of Defense when it comes to having models for security they have something called DIACAP which is their Department of Defense level strategy. These cloud sites have gone through the DIACAP. You can think of it as Drupal has gone through some of the most rigorous security standard issue of the Department of Defense and are even hosted in the cloud, and so this is a really important standard that Drupal has achieved in terms of security and risk.
One of the questions that people ask is can open source software be secure? If everybody has access to our source code does it mean that the hackers are going to figure out how to do it? I think what Dave said and my experience has been we’ve seen this code from the Department of NCIO continuous broad peer review enabled by publicly available source code supports software reliability and security efforts. One of the things that I’ve been doing in the Drupal project for a number of years is helping to coordinate the Drupal security team. We have a team of about 38 members right now. We put out regular security releases and people from the Department of Defense, people from agencies, people from newspapers, security experts around the world contact our team and basically say, “We found a problem with a security violation in Drupal,” so we have a process for working through with the security teams to validate that it is, in fact, a security issue. Then, we verify that there’s a fix that’s made, and then we push that out. We have a number of tiers in which tiers of modules, tiers of code, which we put our security. There’re some very rich processes that allow us to do hundreds, thousands of interactions with security people and developers around the world to manage the security profile. There’s actually in effect, because there’s a lot of discussion with security and because there’s a lot of openness about security that actually makes the product much more secure or at least as secure as proprietary products where there’s a only very small team and nobody really knows what’s going on in the code unless you’re a hacker.
Sometimes people have to think about how they secure borders. I was down in Texas recently and noted this really interesting article. One of the judges down there with the election coming up made a joke, he was serious, but he had said that he was afraid that if Obama was reelected that the United Nations would invade Lubbock, Texas, assuming from the Mexican border. Sometimes when people are thinking about security they’re thinking about really serious security and other times their not. Yes, the guy had made security to stop the United Nations from invading from Mexico, but it’s to train longhorn cattle to keep them out. This is a little joke I had going with our friends in Texas about security models.
There are some more serious security models. This is an article from the newspaper this morning from the Washington Post. One of the things is NATO has just come up this morning and said they need to be able to defend their ally Turkey if Syria continues to shell across the border. In the New York Times this morning we also saw an announcement that the United States is going send 150 troops to the border of Jordan to help primarily with relief logistics but also to prepare in case there were a complete collapse and certain weapons were available. These are the kinds of really serious discussions that allies can be having and can be talking about in these kinds of sites. These are Drupal sites. They’re secured in the cloud. They have to meet a standard. There’s a lot at risk when using Drupal in this particular manner, so it’s really important that security is critical.
In 2009, I had the opportunity to reach out to the White House that had started using Drupal for recovery.gov. This is a picture of me at the White House with Dries Buytaert the founder of the project. When we got three, we were asked a lot of questions and because I had been working on the security team for a number of years and thought a lot about enterprises issues having come from IBM we were able to convince them that Drupal was a viable model. Nobody really knows what the most hacked site in the world is, but certainly lots of people, lots of national governments would like to see a compromise of whitehouse.gov and we’ll see a hacker group say that they’re going to try to take it down. Whitehouse.gov is a site that launched Drupal and it has to meet extreme security standards.
We also see other organizations that have to deal with security. This is a screenshot of Tahrir Square in Egypt about a year and a half ago, the March time frame. What had happened was the protestors as part of the Arib Spring were rising up against Mubarak in Tahrir Square. They were being surrounded by paramilitary, militaries of the Egyptian government that were loyal to Mubarak. There were fears that he would be killed. One of the things that went on was that a lot of the protestors were very tech savvy, so they were on Facebook, they were on Twitter, but they were also on one of the most widely read news sources in the Middle East which was Al Jazeera, in particular Al Jazeera English blogs. They actually had huge massive spikes in traffic. People were blogging there. One of the things that the paramilitaries did was to try to take out the Al Jazeera site. What they did was they actually firebombed the offices of Al Jazeera in an effort to try to prevent them from publishing and being a voice pushing for freedom in Egypt. We actually got a call from some folks that we knew over at Al Jazeera and they were struggling with this massive, massive increase in scalability of traffic. We were actually able to help them and move them to Acquia cloud, and so today they’re a customer and help them with their scalability issues and things like that. That ability to look at risk profiles, the ability to say, “My site could really take off. I could have huge news. I could end up with the need to have elastic resources.” It’s that ability to be in a cloud source and to provision elastic resources on demand are really critical. This could help to really mitigate the risk of your site.
I think I wanted to just summarize with that to say risk is probably the most important, or if not the most important, consideration that your organization’s going to be making in the business case for Drupal. People like the White House and people like Department of Defense, people like Al Jazeera, really, critical times in history have evaluated Drupal, have used it, have taken through security models. Those are great use cases to help you show that this can be effectively managed around Drupal.
To review, we talked initially about costs and cost reductions. We talked about enabling the value, in particular that Harvard site showing how we helped to accomplish the missions. We talked about all the flexibility and the innovation all the great talent, how the people were doing really amazing and interesting things. Then, we talked about risks. We talked about organizations like the U.S. government and important organizations like Al Jazeera that are trying to get the word out and trying to get journalism and freedom out to across the world being under threat, and so they’ve had to deal with different security profiles.
That’s the summary of what I have. If you have any follow-up questions you can feel free to email me or reach me on my mobile. I’m sure Hannah has a long list of questions because I’m probably 10 minutes over. Let’s see what kind of questions. The first question I have is from Randy Seal and he says, “How do find Drupal developers who are willing to work with small 501c organizations that have sub six-figure development budgets? It seems that every Drupal you can find doesn’t want to work in that market. Actually, that’s a little surprising to me. I think, in general, we do find that there’s a huge amount of adoption of Drupal in non-profits. In fact, some of the recent surveys that had come out, listed non-profits have indicated that many if not more than 50% of all non-profits in the United States had switched over to Drupal. I think the challenge is many people who believe in openness, believe in sharing, believe in those kinds of things that are popular in open source are very interested in organizations that are serving a mission not just connecting economic agendas. There are a lot of Drupal talent in non-profits. The catch is that what’s happened is as we’ve seen Drupal take off in governments and all these industries, particularly in commercial industries, those people are making a lot of money with Drupal have then come and basically tried to pull talent out of those non-profits and try to get them to come to work. To some extent, they’ve had some success. Certainly, there are a lot of partners. I you go to the Acquia partner page you’ll find that there’s a lot of organizations that have very strong histories of delivering to non-profit sites, most of the early Drupal shops that I know that are five or six years old who are very focused on non-profits and servicing non-profits and universities. That’s possible. I think if you’re looking for talent, there’re always a couple of places to go. Groups.Drupal.org is a great place to post a job. I have a couple of web pages that I can send you. Let me see if I can switch over and show you a page. I think I may have been looking at your site earlier. You go to Drupal hire developer, hiring a site developer. If you go to Drupal.org and you go to hiring a site developer, and you get in here skills and essential backend web developer and skills of essential front end web developer.
What I would encourage you to consider doing is if you’re finding the market hard find Drupal developers since you’re competing against all these for-profit organizations, find somebody who’s just really believes in the mission of the non-profit who’s really trying to make a difference. Then, see if they have some basic web skills. If they have these basic web skills, then they can work on Drupal for you. You’ll also see a lot of people who jumped across. They started in non-profits and went to the enterprise. They found that they motivations in for-profits weren’t that good for them, and they’re actually looking to come back out. I certainly know of a number of developers who had recently chosen to transition out of that. Send me a follow-up email. I’m certainly happy to point you to a long list of Drupal shops that might deliver sub $50,000, sub $20,000 Drupal sites. There’s always sort of a part of the market that’s always going to try to make their way up the ladder, and so smaller budgets work and I’m happy to make some recommendations there.
I’m going to switch back to the Webex and see what other questions we might have. Are there any other chat questions?
Hannah: There was one more question. It said, “Could you teach upon the need to make the argument to your CEO about contributing code back to the project and budgeting for it?
Kieran: Sure. You can build, hire a developer, go out and build a module that does exactly what you need. Let’s say that costs 10 units of whatever. The argument that you want to make to a CEO is the effort that goes into that module and the maintenance and ownership of that module over time is not insignificant. Somebody has to look at that code, they have to go in and QA, they have to test it. There’s probably somebody in the business who has a non-proprietary need to do something else with that module of code does, and so you’re a lot better off having that module in Drupal.org’s repository where people with QA that module, other developers will come and maintain it for you where it can get external security reviews so people can see that code, review it. If there is a bug in it, it’ll be reported to the Drupal security team. If it’s a fully released module, security team will do a review. They will work with maintainers to get an appropriate patch. If there’s a broad problem in Drupal around security it could get code reviewed as part of a broad sweep of Drupal. Figure out the security costs, figure out the new feature costs, figure out the code maintenance costs, and then basically say, “Is it worth it to for us to keep this module solely proprietary to us?” There’re a lots of reasons why modules that are specific to businesses that aren’t proprietary. Oftentimes, a lot of modules are generic web architecture pieces that are plug and play. We want to contribute back.
The other thing that you need to consider is if your business is growing and you want to hire talent, when Drupal developers are looking around part of the way they find that companies are hiring Drupal developers and are looking where to work is they’re looking at these modules that are being shared and they’re saying, “You’re some really good work here. Would you like to do a part-time contract work with this module?” That can ultimately lead to full-time. It’s smart CEOs thinking about addressing talent, minimizing their costs, opening up to innovation, all those things will really take all those things into consideration. Any other questions?
Hannah: I don’t see any more. Thank you, Kieran, for the great presentation. Thank you everyone for joining. Again, slides and recording of the webinar will be posted to our site in 48 hours. Thanks, Kieran.
Kieran: Thanks, Hannah. Thanks, everybody.