Baby Steps: Zappos.com's Switch to Drupal Content Management
We've written before about the projection that Drupal, the powerful open source content management system (CMS), may run more than 240,000 sites on the web by January of next year. OStatic runs on Drupal, as do many other well-known sites, including The Onion and Fast Company. Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal, has a post up on how Zappos, an e-commerce web site with more than $1 billion in annual revenues, is using Drupal. The Drupal.org site also has a case study up about how Zappos uses Drupal, which illustrates how flexible a platform it really is, and provides a lesson in how many sites using expensive proprietary CMS solutions could gradually transition to the many open source alternatives.
Zappos did not adopt Drupal across its several sites all at once. Instead, the company built its About.Zappos site on it, as an experiment, comparing it to other CMS solutions. After favorable results, the team at Zappos decided to base Zappos' Zeta site on Drupal as well.
As the case study illustrates, Drupal became very pervasive at Zappos. As has been true for the team at Zappos, we at OStatic run on Drupal, but take advantage of some modular tools that we consider to be improvements on certain aspects of it. Modularity, a hallmark of many open source applications, is one of Drupal's strengths.
That, again, drives home the point that even established sites with a fair amount of complexity to their structures don't have to shift all at once, or in their entirety, to free, open source content management platforms. People running sites don't have to pinch their nostrils, jump in and completely submerge themselves in a foreign environment. Instead, baby steps can lead to further steps, and there is no rule that says a platform such as Drupal has to run a site from end to end.
If you're unfamiliar with Drupal or most other well-known open source content management systems, you can try them--working for hours as an "administrator"--at OpenSourceCMS. I continue to think that many e-commerce sites and publications will switch to free, open source content management solutions. The CMS arena represents some of the most fertile territory for open source---commercial and non-commercial. There are also lots of good, open source alternatives to Drupal. What the Zappos case study shows is that these kinds of platform switches can be made gradually, on a trial basis.