AEM may just be the enterprise-grade web solution you’ve been waiting for, even if you’re only in the market for a Content Management System (CMS).
Having a solid content management system, or even a robust extensible web platform, is no longer enough for enterprises. If you’re not sure why let’s take a look at Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) as it compares to another player in the enterprise-grade web platform/CMS space: Drupal.
My Personal History with CMS Systems
As someone relatively new to Adobe Experience Manager, I initially struggled to see or, more accurately, understand the difference between it and the myriad of other systems and platforms that facilitate content management. Even the name “Experience Manager” was confusing at first. I had recently come from the world of Drupal – a world which I genuinely love – and I was in the habit of asking “why not Drupal?” whenever I saw an installation of another platform. This was especially true when the solutions were deployed in service of large commercial enterprises, institutions, and other sizable organizations. Where I came from Drupal is the big player and all others strive to meet it or beat it at its own game.
The Basics of Drupal
For those who may not know, Drupal is the sprawling, powerful, and highly-adaptable web platform – and the much-vaunted darling child – of the collaborative open-source community. It is a versatile and mature platform for the likes of developers, implementers, site admins, content and community managers, and end users alike. Each group has a different stake in Drupal, but all visibly benefit from the extensibility and the flexibility of the platform, and from the creativity of its community of contributors and maintainers.
Here’s the other thing: Drupal is free. It’s free to use, free to adapt, free to reinvent. Drupal gives quite a lot and asks very little of those who use it. It is not owned or locked in any way. Drupal’s rich and diverse communities of practice form an open collective with abundant ideas and support. The primary cost is the effort put against deployment and custom development, and the voluntary time of those who choose to contribute to the platform’s upkeep.
What’s more, since the advent of pre-configured distributions and platform-as-a-service providers, plus with the release of Drupal 8, it has made great strides in providing tools that appeal to larger organizations. Drupal can now boast that it offers capabilities like workflows, asset management, and multi-channel support. In doing so, it has attracted greater numbers of enterprises and institutions willing to adopt Drupal and bend it to their needs: The White House, numerous federal agencies, Mercedes-Benz, The Economist, Red Hat. Universities, states, and local governments too numerous to mention have all used it. So, “Why not Drupal?”
Why Drupal isn’t the Better Choice
I’ve been in the business of content strategy, optimization, and management for over 10 years, and recently led community management and site administration for a very large Drupal deployment in an intuitional setting. Simply put, Drupal was my playground. AEM seemed, at first blush, to be just another player in a crowded field, and I had already chosen my toolset.
What quickly became apparent, however, was the fact that Adobe Experience Manager is more than a content and asset management platform. It is a part of a greater digital ecosystem: the Adobe Marketing Cloud which, in turn, is a component within the Adobe Experience Cloud. This comprehensive suite of platforms comprises set of cloud services that are specifically designed to offer enterprises every kind of utility they might need in the delivery of exceptional, seamless, and individualized customer experiences across sites and channels.
Why Adobe and AEM is the Best Enterprise CMS
While the Experience Cloud is comprised of Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Advertising Cloud, and Adobe Analytics Cloud, you need not deploy the suite in its entirety. Each component is a robust individual element offering its own unique tools. While the real power of the unified set of solutions comes from their native integration with each other, each powerful element can be successfully leveraged on its own. When you add in Adobe Sensei’s machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities you have capabilities that are unmatched in the industry.
Other web platforms allow users to complete a multitude of tasks (Content Management, Authoring, Workflows, Upkeep of User Roles and Groups, Digital Asset Management, Multi-Site Management, Multi-Channel Content, etc.). But AEM, as part of the Marketing Cloud, outpaces its competitors in the breadth and depth of tasks it can ultimately perform, due to its intrinsic integration with the other solutions within the greater ecosystem of The Adobe Experience Cloud. This abundance of capabilities is the greatest strength of the already robust and complete set of tools offered within AEM, and this is where it very quickly shows its leadership across the industry.
AEM vs Drupal
You may have noticed that earlier I said Drupal could be bent to the needs of its enterprise users. It can – but it must be made to do many things which are native to Adobe Experience Manager and its cohort products within The Adobe Experience Cloud. This is no ding against Drupal; it’s famously powerful and flexible. But, while developers are busy integrating Drupal with third-party toolsets and APIs, Adobe Experience Manager can move from a standalone platform to one deployed alongside its sister elements much more fluidly. And time is money when you are trying to launch a site.
Once they have been deployed and inter-connected, the elements in the Adobe Experience Cloud are designed to simply work together and without the need for constant course correction or the aggravation of frustrating, repetitive tasks like reintegrating services each time an update is released.
Resource Management Over Time Matters
And that is the crux of things: The first thing that comes to my mind when I consider the possibility of deploying even one element of a single-source, natively-integrated suite of web solutions, is how I can better utilize my resources and their time. One glaring example is the dev time that would have been devoted to making Drupal do what I need it to do – things that AEM and its cohort of Adobe products already do – could be better applied to things like front end design and optimizing the user experience across channels and markets.
From a more strategic perspective, laying a deep, broad foundation for future work, even if it’s not yet within sight, is a always win for your web properties and your business as a whole. It allows for smoother transitions and quicker time-to-market when future solutions are eventually requested by stakeholders, planned, and deployed by your vendors. And, with the complicated planning and often unpredictable outcomes of integrating unrelated solutions, that’s a situation where tools like Adobe Experience Manager and its suitemates will make everyone happier in the long run.