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How to Break Up With Drupal: The 5 Step Replatforming Guide

Breakups are hard, especially when you’ve invested so much time and effort trying to make things work. When it comes to leaving Drupal, the situation can be just as messy — unless you’re well prepared.

Sure, Drupal has its positives. You’ve had good times. And yet, the same old problems keep resurfacing, whether it’s rushing to deploy emergency patches to plug major security flaws, or the looming inevitability of having to migrate to Drupal 8 (and before long, Drupal 9), there’s always something to worry about.

Eventually, you feel as if you spend more time looking after your website than you do scaling your business — and that hurts, particularly when you’re trying to pivot into new markets and channels due to the emergence of new technologies like the Amazon Echo.

In this article, we’ve laid out a plan to help you break up with Drupal and replatform without the usual heart or headaches associated with leaving Drupal.

The Options: On-Premise, SaaS, Open Source, and Closed Source

First things first, let’s consider your options. There are two categories you have to consider if you want to move on from Drupal.

The first category you need to consider is how you want your new CMS platform to be hosted. Do you want to go for an on-premise solution or a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution?

On-Premise vs. SaaS 

On-Premise Solution

An on-premise solution is hosted in-house. You purchase a license from a software vendor, and you install it onto your own servers. The CMS provider regularly reviews and updates the software and releases updates and security patches to their users. It is your responsibility to install these updates and run maintenance for security measures and ensuring the system works.


A SaaS (Software as a Service) solution is hosted and maintained by a third-party. You usually procure a monthly subscription with no upfront costs or no long-term contracts. Everything from updates, maintenance, security and installation is taken care off by the CMS provider. This leaves you with more time to manage and publish your content.

The second category to consider is deciding whether you want to go for a platform that is an open source solution or a closed source solution.

Open Source vs. Closed Source

Open Source

Open source software is generally available for the public to use. Open source software programs are distributed under a license agreement which allows for the coding to be viewed, shared, and modified by other users.

Open source programs delve into the idea of creating a community of developers to self-govern and maintain the software. The main setback to open source software is security. Since the coding is available to everyone, the software is vulnerable to malicious attacks from hackers.

Closed Source

Also known as proprietary software, closed source software is the total opposite to open source software. Closed source programs are distributed under a licensing agreement where only authorized users can access and modify the code.

Closed source software programs are developed under a controlled environment. And since the coding is not openly available to the general public, closed source software is generally seen as more secure.

9 Things to Look for in a CMS

Whether you’re going for an open source on-premise solution or a closed source SaaS, there are some fundamental features that every enterprise needs from a CMS.

  1. Developer Friendliness

Having a CMS platform that is developer friendly allows for quicker time to market. A CMS platform that is not so developer-friendly can heavily impact the amount of time and resources required to make any necessary adjustments and improvements.

  1. Marketer Friendliness

Your marketers will be the primary users of your new CMS system. So do check to see if a CMS provider allows marketers to have access to a range of marketing tools so they can deliver a personalized experience to your customers.

Marketers want to use a CMS systems where they have more control over how they can manage and publish their content. Look out for CMS vendors that provide a low-code user-interface and drag-and-drop composition.

  1. Headless content management

Headless content management is now a must. We’ve already seen how smart wearables, smart refrigerators, voice assistant devices have drastically changed how your customers are now consuming content. Conventional systems like Drupal and WordPress limits your content distribution to a single web-based application, it’s time for you to invest in a platform that provides omnichannel delivery.

  1. Multi-site capabilities

If you’re an enterprise with multiple brands, branches, or localized businesses, then you need to invest in a CMS provider that provides you with multi-site capabilities.

Having a multi-site feature enables you to manage and scale multiple sites through a single portal, all while having access to the same tools and features. It reduces the amount of time required to run maintenance on each site since you can manage them through a central hub.

  1. Multi-tenant architecture

Multi-tenancy means that one software application services multiple customers, or “tenants”, rather than each user having their own isolated system. Multi-tenancy provides a number of economic benefits in terms of software development and costs. For example, with a multi-tenant architecture, you only have to make a single update in order to benefit all tenants at once, rather than resorting to making updates for each individual user.

  1. Multi-lingual support

A CMS that provides multiple lingual support can enable you to scale your company globally without alienating non-english speaking employees and customers. Paired with personalization and localization features, multi-lingual support can help you to create and manage independent websites for each country.

  1. Security

Having a CMS that is well maintained and secure can protect your brand’s reputation and can reduce the risk of malicious attacks. Plus, it’s much easier to remain GDPR compliant  when your CMS is built to withstand data breaches.

Take some time to speak to vendors to find out how often they run their security protocols and what their procedure is when they encounter any bugs or flaws in the system.

  1. Integrations

Rather than going for an all-in-one CMS solution, you should opt for a CMS solution that allows you to integrate a variety of tools and features. Zesty.io is a licensed Google partner, so you already have google tools such as Google Analytics, Google Translate and Google Calendar embedded into the platform.

  1. Support

If you come across any issues, do you have access to the necessary support to help you resolve the problem? Look out for CMS providers that provide 24/7 support and are readily available through webchat.

5 Step Towards Replatforming Your CMS

Right, now that you know of all the things that you need to look out for when looking for a new CMS platform, it is time for you to familiarise with the 5 steps you must take to replatform and part ways with Drupal.

  1. Get Stakeholders Onboard

Before you decide to part ways with Drupal, you need to ensure that everyone is on board. This includes senior management, support staff, marketers, developers and executives.

Everyone that is involved has to come to a collective agreement that is time to move on from Drupal and find another CMS provider.

  1. List Your Requirements

Once you have your stakeholders onboard, it is time to identify what you and your stakeholders want from the new CMS. Arrange meetings with your stakeholders to get a good understanding of your requirements and list them down in order of priority. You could even categorize your requirements under as “mandatory”, “preferred”, and “non-essential” headers — which will make it easier to choose between CMS vendors.

  1. Shortlist of CMS Vendors and Send RFPs

Using your prioritized list of requirements, it is time to search for suitable CMS vendors and shortlist them. Ensure your shortlisted CMS vendors meet all the “must-have” requirements and many of the “should-have” requirement as described in the previous step. We suggest shortlisting at least five CMS vendors.

Once you have shortlisted your CMS vendors, send out an RFP (request for proposal) to each shortlisted vendor with your requirements and an additional information they should be aware of. For example, you should explain what you intend to use their platform for, how you hope to scale, and what you hope they can provide besides software. The CMS vendors will respond back with details on how they will implement the new CMS platform and will also confirm if they are able to meet your requirements.

  1. Schedule Demos, Reconvene, and Decide

After going through each response, pick between 2 to 4 vendors and arrange for a demo. Make sure you invite all your stakeholders to the demo, so they can familiarise with the system.

Once all the demos have taken place, take some time to decide which vendor fits best with your organization. Again, ensure you have all the stakeholders involved in the decision process.

  1. Migrate, Deploy, and Launch

When you have decided on your CMS vendor, you may need to hire a data migration service to migrate your data from Drupal to your new platform. Ideally, your new software vendor will help you make the move, but that won’t always be the case (this may be something you wish to outline in your RFP).

Once the migration process is over, you can look into developing your new website or application with your new CMS. Again, ideally, your vendor will be helping you settle in at this stage.

Once you’re happy with your new digital presence, you’re ready to launch. Take this as an opportunity to generate a buzz about your brand and get your customers excited about any new functionality, security, or speed that they can now expect.

Breaking up with Drupal Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

Replatforming from Drupal to another CMS can seem daunting, but with the right process in place, and a helpful CMS vendor on the other end of the journey, it could be a lot easier than you imagine.

Plus, when you take into account the forced and arduous migration that you have to endure with Drupal 8 — and pretty soon, Drupal 9 — moving away from Drupal could mean replatforming for the very last time. Now that’s something to get excited about.

By Gisele Blair

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

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