SharePoint and Drupal: Yes, We Can Coexist!


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Slides from presentation at Drupal Gov Days 2013 ( SharePoint has become the “de facto” standard for many U.S. agencies. But with the push toward open source projects, many SharePoint experts and developers are being tasked with learning Open Source, including Drupal. Enter EPA’s intranet move to Drupal and the brand new site. Both EPA and VA are now using Drupal in very different ways. This session will share lessons learned, pain points in the process of having to relearn, skills/terms that are transferable to both projects, tips/tricks to tackle your first Drupal website with a looming deadline, and how open source solutions and SharePoint can coexist.

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SharePoint and Drupal: Yes, We Can Coexist!

  1. 1. Drupal and SharePoint Can they Coexist?
  2. 2. Speakers Jessica Dearie •  IT Project Manager at the U.S. EPA o  Led intranet migration of legacy CMS to Drupal last spring •  DC ANG Member o  Migration and implementation of SharePoint 2010 Donna Rodriguez ●  Web Manager at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ○  Been working with Drupal 7 since Jan. 2013 ○  Launched 1st Drupal Internet Site in VA May 2013 ○  Been working with SharePoint since v2001
  3. 3. Drupal vs SharePoint •  Some Similarities •  Significant Differences When you take a business perspective first.... SharePoint vs Drupal may be an erroneous choice
  4. 4. Some Similarities •  Require developer knowledge and intervention •  Strong communities of support •  Cloud-based versions •  Both snap parts together •  There will always be features you want that either platform doesn’t offer in-the-box •  Both platforms allow prototyping for rapid website development with minimal custom programming •  Concepts of centralized content types, using taxonomy to give site content structure, free-form tagging {folksonomy} •  Control showing / hiding of content with metadata and publishing status •  Delegate content creation and site administration by defining who gets to do what on your site through permissions •  Architectural, Information Management and Engagement Planning is necessary for success! •  Migrating/Upgrading to a next version is a lot of work and requires planning!
  5. 5. Differences: Technology Drupal •  PHP/MySQL •  Multiple web servers supported •  Core/Module architecture lends itself to rapid innovation •  Relatively self-contained •  FREE. Hidden costs to open source? SharePoint •  ASP.NET/MS SQL •  Windows only. Supports interoperability with other platforms but requires Windows to run on •  Microsoft IIS •  “App module” relatively new •  Plays well with other apps - other vendors create connector web parts •  Costly. Once you put $ into dev platform this big in an enterprise, can be difficult to leave
  6. 6. Differences: Intent Drupal •  Web CMS + Community solution platform •  Greater focus on public- facing scenarios (though internal uses are growing) •  Process of learning open source and driven by convention, watch and learn from running code and test your ideas SharePoint •  Enterprise Services CMS + Portal platform •  Deployed primarily for internal use (though some external use as well) •  Closed proprietary and you will be reading a lot of SDK & definitive guides to get things done
  7. 7. SharePoint Strengths •  Scores tight with MS Suite integration o  Seamlessly integrates with Windows OS/SPDesigner/InfoPath & Office Products. o  Business Intelligence & Analytics •  Document Management & Collaboration o  Versioning system / check-in/check-out o  Workflows, actions and alerts o  Issue Management and Task Assignment connected to Active Directory o  Drupal slowly emerging as strong competitor with Alfresco integrations? Open Atrium? •  Familiarity: Management is used to the Microsoft Office look and feel (ribbon) o  Strong “comfort” factor •  Easy to create multiple site collections and subsites hierarchy with permission inheritance or you can break inheritance o  Plugged into Active Directory (makes permission management easy/efficient!) •  Find-ability: Search, index, and organize content
  8. 8. SharePoint Weaknesses ●  Open exchange of ideas and comments ○  Drupal excels in ALL social publishing and communities ●  Not very intuitive for site managers and users out of the box without training ●  Users tend to replace it as file share and can become chaotic if not GOVERNED! ●  Solutions may require significant number of third party purchases ●  Technology happens so fast. By the time you move an agency to latest/greatest it is old news! ●  Setting up local dev environment is not as easy as setting up local Drupal dev environment or free ●  Sys-Admin/Change Control Board - No longer add web parts or custom solutions because of arduous internal processes (Goal: 100% in the box solutions/No Visual Studio) ●  Extensive Branding can be more difficult to master. Make copies! ○  Use Firebug and test ridiculously to make sure you did not change wrong css inadvertently. ●  SP 2010 limits browser choices: Firefox and Safari aren’t “first class” browsers.
  9. 9. Drupal Strengths •  The quantity and range of available Drupal contributed Modules is its great strength and a significant advantage over the more monolithic SharePoint o  If a problem exists in a Drupal core module it would be fixed immediately! Have to find workarounds in SP until it gets upgraded or patched (if fix is “big” enough to be included in patch - have to write business impact case to MS) •  It’s hard to beat FREE and flexibility •  Extensive eco-system of freely available modules and themes makes it easy to put together a site that has a stylish look and feel & rich functionality while never (or almost never) having to cut a line of code •  When you want site users to create content and connect with each other - moving from “one to many” to “many to many” •  Multi-site Configurations •  Wide-open graphic design possibilities including responsive design
  10. 10. Drupal Weaknesses •  Lots of ways to do the similar tasks •  Determining the “best” way for your project can be difficult •  While formal training teaches the basics, most learning must be done through networking and trial/ error •  Lack of Document Management and integration with tools like MS Office and Open Office •  File Management: Uploading files and images o  Detach/Edit & Re-Attach?
  11. 11. Learning Process: It Depends SharePoint: •  Steepest learning curve by far was with Drupal (open vs. closed) •  Drupal lego-like platform with a wealth of options - which one? •  Learn what is possible in the SP box before you attempt to customize (90% is possible in the box!) Drupal: •  To get SharePoint to level of functionality provided by Drupal is much harder to learn •  Pro for SP is that there aren’t as many ways to do the same thing
  12. 12. Open source solutions & SharePoint can coexist If your agency is mostly a MS shop, deploying a few open source solutions can introduce the IT Dept. and your information workers to alternatives. The existence of SharePoint does not have to mean it is the only solution. There are good arguments for using both.
  13. 13. Drupal and SharePoint at the EPA ●  Drupal ○  Public website ( - migrating to Drupal ○  EAP/ORD intranet migrated to Drupal last spring ■  installation profile launching for 7 additional lab and research center intranet sites ●  SharePoint ○  Office 365 selected as new agency collaboration tool ○  Outlook, web office apps, SkyDrive ○  Document collaboration focus ○  Legacy intranet sites
  14. 14. Drupal and SharePoint at VHA/Web and Mobile Solutions ●  Drupal ○  New Public website ( ○  Integration with Atlassian - JIRA & Confluence ○  Primary solution for public facing websites ●  SharePoint 2010 ○  Intranet ○  Mainly used for document management ○  Internal communication and collaboration ○  Communication strategy and planning for migration to SharePoint 2013
  15. 15. Top 5 Drupal 7 Favorite Features 1.  Developer Community and Support Network a.  People in the community are willing to mentor and show you how they did things without charging 2.  Social & community publishing platform a.  User-generated content 3.  Open Source: don’t have to pay for licensing 4.  1000s of contributed modules are available to extend/grow your site: don’t have to wait for next version of proprietary software to come out to build latest feature for users a.  No restriction to code available or database 5.  Advanced workflows that support detailed processes to create and approve content workflows
  16. 16. Top 5 SharePoint 2010 Favorite Features 1.  Integration with SharePoint Designer and InfoPath to build solutions 2.  Central Content Types and Taxonomies 3.  Document Sets to “package” and organize a single related work product rather than separate documents 4.  Calendar Color-coded Overlay/10 Aggregated Calendars a.  Calendars from Microsoft Exchange Server can be merged with SharePoint Calendars 5.  Search with refinement to filter content
  17. 17. Drupal and SharePoint Yes, We Can Coexist!
  18. 18. Conclusion/Summary Best of both worlds. Deploy Drupal for the community front end and the familiarity of SharePoint for document management. There is a place for both Drupal & SharePoint! ●  For internal, document management, Office integration, SharePoint ○  Can’t imagine doing without Office internally (Outlook/Excel/ Word/PowerPoint, etc.). What would replace and how much investment in training would be lost? ●  For external sites needing broad range of functionality, Drupal
  19. 19. Conclusion/Summary Challenges: ●  Integration of content between solutions. ○  Feeds from Drupal to SharePoint/SharePoint to Drupal ○  SharePoint behind the firewall ●  Content strategies to avoid duplication of content and maintenance ●  Maintaining expert knowledge when working with both platforms
  20. 20. SharePoint doesn’t have to look like SharePoint! For inspiration, check out Top SharePoint Sites and use jQuery
  21. 21. Asked to create WebMD like community in SharePoint. No viable solution in the box without purchasing 3rd party solution - NewsGator or LightningTools
  22. 22. Color-coded Overlay and up to 10 Aggregated Calendars
  23. 23. Drupal and “Filtered” Calendars
  24. 24. Document Sets to organize a single related work product. Subsite hierarchy that breaks parent permission inheritance.
  25. 25. SharePoint designed to work well with other MS products. SharePoint integration with InfoPath forms can be used together to make powerful streamlined business process solutions for the office and reduce work.
  26. 26. Drupal Integration with Atlassian JIRA Issue Collector Form.
  27. 27. Legal Services Corp (.gov multisite!)
  28. 28. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  29. 29. Questions?
  30. 30. Sources 1.  Real Story Group: www.realstorygroup.comDrupal vs SharePoint, Tony Byrne 2.  Blue Coda: www.bluecoda.comDrupal vs SharePoint Fact Sheet