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.