5 Reasons to Dump Drupal for a Modern SaaS CMS

19 Dec 2021
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Posted by Crownpeak

The Drupal 7 Content Management System (CMS) had a good run. It’s over a decade old and it’s still the most widely used version of the platform – mainly because so many businesses are locked into it. Drupal 7 end of life (EOL) is beyond overdue, even though support has been extended to November 2022 to help buy some time for all those businesses whose websites still depend on it. For those who did upgrade to Drupal 8, you have some deciding to do too. As of November 2, 2021, Drupal 8 has officially reached its end of life, which means security support is no longer available from the Drupal community and the Drupal security team will no longer provide security updates, putting your website at risk for security breaches and nefarious actors.

This should be a wake-up call that anyone on Drupal 7 or 8 must act now or risk major security issues. If you’re coming from Drupal 7, you’ll need to do a complete rebuild and migration rather than a standard upgrade. The fact that so many businesses are locked into this ancient version is one of the key reasons you should be looking to leave Drupal altogether, to avoid an expensive upgrade that will keep costing you for years to come. Getting off the Drupal upgrade path can be a good way to leapfrog your competitors who are still stuck there.

Of course, whether you’re facing Drupal 7 EOL or Drupal 8 EOL, Drupal’s answer is “upgrade to Drupal 9.” But for you that’s going to be painful. Going through the process of upgrading anything – let alone something as important as your website – is, quite simply, an outmoded way of doing things. Change is hard. Changing large, mission-critical things is even harder because it’s also risky, disruptive and expensive. And, today, it’s unnecessary.

We’re talking about SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) here, where upgrades and security updates happen behind the scenes in a gradual, ongoing way that doesn’t disrupt your entire workflow and digital presence. And it’s especially true when we’re talking about a modern, agile, composable SaaS CMS compared to large, heavy, tough-to-maneuver, legacy platforms like Drupal.

If you’re on Drupal 7 or Drupal 8, you are at a moment of reckoning. You either bite the bullet and pay for an upgrade, or you go another way.

If you’re a bullet-biting type and are leaning toward migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9, just know it’s going to be complex and expensive. It’s going to take a team of Drupal developers to make it happen, and it’s going to take up to six months for them to migrate more complicated sites. And once you’re there, it’s going to keep costing you – you’ll need those Drupal resources to continue to upgrade, patch, and maintain your site. They can charge you high rates just to manage ongoing security updates and keep your website live, without even doing any functional improvements. And pretty soon it will be Drupal 9 end-of-life and you'll be doing it all over again.

Rather than locking yourself into another Drupal upgrade, this is a great time to make the jump to something more modern. Something simpler, faster and cheaper to maintain. When you move to a SaaS CMS, you get the job done, your website is up and running in a fraction of the time, and you no longer have that dark upgrade cloud perpetually hovering on your horizon, because the days of the painful, risky, disruptive and expensive software updates are over. Your website works. It evolves along with your company. And, with a composable SaaS CMS like Crownpeak’s digital experience platform (DXP) , you get to pick the capabilities you need now, and seamlessly add to them over time with the latest, market-responsive, best-of-breed capabilities as you need them.

Facing Drupal 7 end of life and still not sure what to do next?

Answer these five questions, to find out if you’re ready to ditch Drupal now and make the move to a SaaS CMS :

  • Complexity or Simplicity? If you stick with Drupal, you are looking at a future of frequent updates. And with open-source platforms like Drupal, it’s also common to have to augment with plugins that also require maintenance, patches and upgrades that introduce yet another layer of complexity (and risk). Why should you have to replace the entire backbone of your website every few years? Because a SaaS CMS is managed for you, updates are seamless, silent and a whole lot simpler. Crownpeak updates and upgrades on a bi-weekly schedule, and you don’t have to lift a finger.
  • Vulnerability or Security? Drupal security updates are common because it, and other open-source CMS platforms like WordPress, are some of the most hacked. Just search “Drupal 7 exploit” and you’ll be regaled with stories about “Drupalgeddon.” Because Drupal is vulnerable to unapplied patches, you have to stay on top of them all the time. And your website is only as secure as the weakest plugin link. But with a SaaS CMS like Crownpeak, patches are delivered seamlessly as soon as they’re needed, and they’re backed by Crownpeak’s world-class security . Crownpeak stays on top of hackers so you don’t have to, with industry-leading audits, assessments and certifications.
  • Variability or Predictability? When you’re looking at a Drupal 9 upgrade, you need to factor in the costs of all of the above to get your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Then you need to factor in the variables and hidden costs: updates, Drupal vulnerabilities you need to solve, another inevitable EOL to contend with. The TCO of staying on Drupal is likely prohibitive for all but the biggest companies who have deep pockets and too much invested to go any other way. For everyone else, once you start doing the math, you’ll quickly see that the TCO of the SaaS, zero-infrastructure approach is considerably lower and it’s far more predictable because you know exactly what it’s going to cost you year over year. (Check out our CMS Carrying Cost Calculator to learn what it’s really costing your organization to operate your current CMS).
  • SaaS or PaaS (it's more than "cloud")? When Drupal, and many other monolithic CMS platforms, refer to their solution as “cloud,” they’re not providing the full story. Drupal is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), which means the upkeep of the software (upgrades, patches, fixes) is on you or an implementation partner. These software upgrade implementations – which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of development time – still plague customers of cloud-based PaaS platforms throughout the relationship.
    In contrast, the Crownpeak Digital Experience Management (DXM) platform is a true Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution. Not only do you benefit from all that a cloud solution offers, but our software is fully maintained by us, for you. Upgrades are automatic and behind-the-scenes, which means you will always be on the latest version with automatic access to new features, performance improvements, and security enhancements without any additional costs or worry. There’s no end of life, no vendor lock-in and no security concerns or caching issues. Plus, it’s all incredibly easy to use, and for many tasks, you won’t even need a backend developer.
  • Monolithic or Composable? Today’s websites need to be built for agility and to deliver the modern digital experiences customers demand. The better – and faster – your brand delivers those digital experiences , the more likely you are to win customers and keep them coming back. When you invest your resources in a monolithic platform that’s complex to maneuver, it’s harder to respond to ever-changing customer needs, because each change is too complicated, time-consuming and expensive. Your marketing team can’t respond. Adding functionality is hard (if it’s possible at all). When you move to an agile, SaaS-based, composable CMS , you can future-proof your business. You can turn on a dime, respond to market changes, better address customer needs and deliver great experiences. Plus, you can get what works for you now, and add the functionality you need as your company grows – all without changing platforms or doing costly integrations.

To learn more about how a composable DXP works – and how to make it work for you – download our Composable DXP Buyer’s Guide .

But what if you’re on Drupal 8?

You may be thinking none of this really applies to you because you’re already on Drupal 8 and your upgrade path to Drupal 9 will be easy-peasy. It’s true that Drupal 8 has been re-architected with easier upgrade paths and backwards compatibility, so for companies that started on this version, or have already made the upgrade from Drupal 7, the path of future upgrades should be smoother. However, these upgrades will never be as smooth as moving to a true multi-tenant SaaS CMS . And all the other five considerations above remain true.

Composable is the Future of SaaS CMS

As you consider your next move after Drupal end of life, there’s never been a better time to transition to a modern, composable, SaaS digital experience platform like Crownpeak.

A composable DXP provides all the capabilities of a traditional, monolithic digital experience platform – enabling the creation, management, delivery and optimization of highly personalized digital customer experiences – with a modular set of best-of-breed components that all work together seamlessly. These easy-to-assemble components include, hybrid headless CMS, content-driven commerce, digital quality and accessibility compliance, AI-powered personalization capabilities (and much more). A composable DXP like Crownpeak gives marketers the tools they need to create engaging, market-leading customer experiences, with the agility and flexibility to do it faster and at a lower cost.

That’s why top analysts are recommending that organizations future-proof their digital operations by moving to a composable approach.

According to Gartner® in the report Adopt a Composable DXP Strategy to Future-Proof Your Tech Stack,

"By 2023, organizations that have adopted an intelligent composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation."[1]

Drupal 7 end of life is your opportunity to join the composable revolution and unlock your digital marketing agility with a modern, future-proof SaaS CMS .

Learn how, by speaking to one of our experts today >

[1] Gartner, “Adopt a Composable DXP Strategy to Future-Proof Your Tech Stack.” Irina Guseva, Yefim Natis, Mick MacComascaigh, Mike Lowndes, Gene Phifer, 16 December 2020. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.