UPEI goes Drupal

While on the subject of Canada, the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) is moving many of their public facing websites to Drupal. So far, 85 UPEI sites use Drupal. Ryan Palmer, the driving force behind this work, told me that the many Faculty of Arts department sites should be online by the end of November, and that many other smaller sites are in various stages of completion. One year down the road, they expect to be in the 300-site range.

Each site on the UPEI system was built as an independent site on its own database, but run from a shared code base using Drupal's multi-site features. According to Ryan, the UPEI chose Drupal for its ability to centrally manage the sites, its LDAP integration that allows centralized control of user authentication, Drupal's ability to enforce the university's brand across sites, and the fact that Drupal can serve 30 million hits per month from a single server.

According to Ryan, the University of Calgary went through a similar implementation in late 2006 and early 2007. UPEI also hosted a gathering with the University de Moncton, who have just completed an 18-month study of their public websites that concluded a proper CMS was necessary and that Drupal was the best choice. At the University of Ghent, where I work, our department has a similar multi-site Drupal setup albeit with fewer sites.

What is interesting is that more and more universities start to embrace Drupal by moving smaller departmental sites to Drupal. It is an emerging trend, and one I think we should support. If you're into reading tea leaves, this might mean that we'll see an uptake in Drupal being used an enterprise-grade content management system. After all, universities are complex enterprises that often employ hundreds, if not thousands, of people.


WouterVH (not verified):

"What is interesting is that more and more universities start to embrace Drupal by moving smaller departmental sites to Drupal."

Quite logical, they all move to *a* CMS. Even one of the largest Belgian universities (KUL) doesn't use a CMS for their portal website.

Rick (not verified):

I also think that we're going to see increased Drupal adoption for Universities (and the public sector in general). Multisite support, multi-lingual support, accessibility and open source are all working in Drupal's favor at the moment.

At work we're already working with a major US university on their standardization around Drupal for all their sites. UBC here in Vancouver also uses Drupal in some areas. Once a few case studies are available for these pioneering institutions the flood gates will open.

PM (not verified):

This is good news. Universities are slow to act, but once they get on board, they're sure to stick with their decisions for a while. And I think many universities can see Drupal's benefits and in turn, support the community effectively.

RP (not verified):

This does bode well for Drupal in the long-run. As mentioned above, UPEI will be stuck using Drupal, for better or worse, for quite some time. The last CMS-type installation at UPEI lasted 10 years. I predict that the UPEI CMS will remain on Drupal for at least a decade, during which time UPEI will continue to hold a stake in the success of the Drupal project.

Shaun (not verified):

"... and the fact that Drupal can serve 30 million hits per month from a single server."

Where may I find capacity planning information? What would be the sizing of the server being used at UPEI?

robotoverlord (not verified):

University of Lethbridge (another large Canadian University) is also in the process of converting to Drupal. I was lucky enough to see a presentation by the guy in charge of this conversion at Drupal Camp Vancouver this year.

Warren (not verified):

We have moved to Drupal after a consultant recommended that choice when the opportunity came up. We did a primary re-write of our content, new IA and design to get the whole ball rolling. Of course it's still in development but we had two main areas that we struggled with...
1. Workflow. Until our consultant provided a very good person to develop a now recommended module for Revisioning, there was little to provide for 'save, review and publish' processes. In a University, document revisions and double checking is essential.
2. Development. Getting the process sorted to do CSV for the developers on localhost, streaming that into a dev service, combining it with current/active/live content for delivery of the code changes to the release server, again was something we had to invent ourselves.
If these higher level processes were sorted and documented and provided full solutions to these real-life requirements then I think this type of product would be more easily adopted by Higher Education and Commerce alike.