Interview

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Rob: Rob Gill, I’m Director of Operations for NBC Universal’s O&TS, Operation Technical Services. We’re shared corporate organization that tries to promote best practices.

Chris: I’m Chris Herring. At NBC Universal, we use Drupal as a centralized publishing system for a lot of the NBC Universal brands.

Rob: Across company, we have 30, 40 brands: Bravo, SyFy, Telemundo. We have films, parks and we’re in a unique position to work with all of those different brands and their digital properties. We had tried a lot of the enterprise content management systems out there. They were very content-specific so there might be a really good blogging platform and if you want to build a website out of it, you could modify that blogging platform and sort of get it to do most of what you wanted it to do. Drupal was one of the first, if not the first, platform to come out. It was more of a global solution to a website as opposed to using something and then trying to make it work for everything else.

Chris: The fact that there’s a community behind Drupal made a huge difference, particularly around time to deploy for a new site.

Rob: Another major, major factor for us is on the editorial side. We have, in some cases, brands that have 30 editors that are entering content and very specifically, Drupal scaled really well on the editorial side. We consider our primary customers the editors that use the system and they have been incredibly happy with it so that was the success that we’ve built on. As we push - continue to try to push Drupal as our standard across the company, being able to back that up and have an Acquia-type company, has been very helpful.

Chris: We tend to use Acquia as a knowledge resource so when we’re researching a particular use case or a business problem, we tend to use Acquia to help us make that final determination on which module we should use. The few times that we have engaged Acquia for that sort of architectural guidance and advice, it’s been really interesting to me because each time, not only were we told the right way to go, but the options we were considering we shouldn’t have even been considering. They helped filter a lot of the noise that is out there in the community down to the exact right option to solve a business problem.

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Ryan Garner: Hi. I’m Ryan Garner, Vice President of Direct Consumer Services at Warner Music Group. I run a group that Warner did build, and operates all of our artist websites. Today, within Warner, we have a number of different labels within the company: Warner Brothers Records, Atlantic Records, our label in Nashville, and for a long time all of these labels have been using different technologies for their artist web platforms. I’m proud to say that we’re in the process of migrating the entire company, and all its artist websites which numbers between 300 and 350 websites, over to Drupal.

In the decision to move the entire company and all its other divisions over to Drupal really came about because of Acquia, and believing and seeing in Acquia that there’s a partner there who knows and whose core competency is to scale, secure, upgrade, host, manage, provide helpdesk and great fix support for Drupal at an enterprise level.

So Warner Music Group today has begun a relationship to move all of its artist websites over to a new product called Enterprise Gardens, and I’m very excited about this relationship. We’re kind of creating or defining a model of OpenSaaS and to me, that’s the best of both worlds. For a company like Warner’s, again, it’s not an engineering company having SaaS products that are managed by engineering and development organizations whose core competency it is to provide these products makes complete sense. But the challenge with SaaS has been that these products are often proprietary and when the organizations that run them or provide them to us either go out of business or decide to move in a different direction with their platforms, etc., it leaves us in a very awkward spot and leaves us in a place where we’re not in control of the platforms we’re using; and now you introduce this concept of open. So OpenSaaS is this idea that you can have a product company, you can have an engineering company providing a platform to you and at the same time that it can be built on open source technologies. So should something happen in the relationship or should that company not want to support that business line anymore, you can find another vendor for it; it’s open.

Warner is using Amazon web services in a number of ways. We are a biggie C2 customer, we’re a big S3 customer and a biggie BS customer. Interestingly enough, though, the way that it works for us is Acquia is actually administering that relationship and managing that relationship on our behalf; so through Acquia and through this three-party relationship and this concept of open sass with Enterprise Gardens, we’re leveraging the Amazon to run all of our websites.

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Currently, about 30% of all colleges and universities in the United States use Drupal to power their main .edu site or what they might call their corporate site. Those numbers are also increasing around the world as well. So schools really depend on websites more than ever to deliver rich, engaging experiences, and they need the websites to tell the story of the institution. It really has the flexibility to be used for recruiting, for admissions, for general outreach. It has the ability to be used as a development platform for applications to serve current students and also has the engaging outreach capabilities to work with alumni as well. So it can really handle all the digital needs that a college has. Colleges and universities are realizing that they’re not in business to manage servers and to deal with technology infrastructure. They’re in business to deliver learning to students and that’s their core business. So they’re looking for opportunities to get out of those ancillary services whenever they can and redeploy that capital towards more effective and more appropriate uses. So the Cloud, in higher education, is absolutely taking off. We’re seeing it in digital platforms as one of the areas where schools introduce themselves to the Cloud and get into the Cloud services. So one of the conversations that we’re having with a lot of our customers right now in higher education is the deployment of applications on Drupal open source applications built on Drupal that can replace proprietary software technologies on areas like learning management systems; certainly, in areas like portal and internet functionality. Schools absolutely rely on collaborative social platforms to keep their students engaged and keep their students in a position where they can transact with the institution; whether be it register for classes or just pay for bills, engage in student activities. Schools are moving away from proprietary solutions in those areas because they don’t offer the flexibility and the engagement that Drupal platforms can and they’re starting to build out portals and internets using open source Drupal to do that. We’re also seeing a lot of interest in building out learning management capabilities as well, either to supplement or augment the system that currently exists or to replace it entirely. So initially, Drupal was used by colleges and universities to convey information sources through the website content. Now more and more we’re seeing Drupal being used to engage, to collaborate through the use of applications as well. So it’s a pretty exciting trend that we’re seeing right now.

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