Summit Business Media taps Drupal CMS for new B2B financial website
Summit Business Media is turning its Web publishing efforts to the cloud, using the Drupal content management system to power its new AdvisorOne.com website. It is the first open source CMS implementation for Summit, which publishes more than 30 B2B websites.
Summit Business Media chose Drupal because it’s a best-of-breed tool among open source content management systems, said Joseph Haddock, director of technology for Summit’s Media Division, which has brands in the insurance, investment and professional services sectors.
Summit’s decision to use Drupal for AdvisorOne.com, its new portal/aggregation website for investment advisors, highlights a trend that many other publishers are following: switching from proprietary content management systems to open-source, “cloud computing” solutions that offer greater flexibility and lower deployment and maintenance costs.
Publications such as Field and Stream, The Nation, and Mother Jones have switched to Drupal. B2B publishers including Penton and consumer publishers such as Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia are also at various stages of Drupal adoption. (eMediaVitals.com also uses Drupal.)
At Summit Business Media, adopting Drupal for AdvisorOne.com means a break from its existing websites, which use Microsoft's SharePoint CMS. In a phone interview, Haddock admitted the SharePoint experience “has not been great,” particularly in terms of its scalability. SharePoint also suffers from a drawback inherent in any proprietary system: “You can’t fix things yourself – you’re stuck waiting for the vendor,” said Haddock. “Drupal has problems too, but you can go in and fix them yourself.”
Asked whether Summit Business Media plans to extend Drupal to its existing sites, a spokeswoman offered a statement from John Whelan, executive vice president of the company’s Media Division, saying that the group plans “a sequential deployment of similar products in our other markets, along with a series of web-based new product launches.”
For Haddock’s team, the AdvisorOne.com deployment of Drupal has led to savings in both time and hard costs.
“We’ve been able to keep our costs considerably lower than what we had previously spent on content management systems,” said Haddock. Programming began in June, and the group was able to hit its milestones – building the site even as it built up its own Drupal expertise – and launch the site in four months.
“We’ve been strictly a Microsoft shop, so we needed to bring in new skills,” said Haddock. The group retrained existing staff, hired new programmers with Drupal expertise, and outsourced some development work to a shop in India. The group currently consists of three programmers, two production staffers and one front-end engineer.
Haddock’s IT group worked closely with the editorial team to redesign publication workflows, and continues to meet frequently with editors.
“A large portion of my team meets with the edit team regularly,” Haddock said. “We go over what works, what doesn’t, and how can we facilitate the things that do work. We want editors to be comfortable in the system.”
The comfort for editors comes from the flexibility of being able to publish from anywhere an editor has Internet access (SharePoint requires a user to be on the Summit network), easily add images and authors to the system, and curate content from a variety of sources.
Haddock’s team still has a lengthy – and frequently changing – to-do list for adding features. Current priorities include improving the speed of the system, adding support for video content, and fine-tuning content-management processes.
“You don’t build it and walk away,” he said. “This is a never-ending process.”