Enterprises, small and large, public and private, use Intranets to maintain continuity of information access and ease of remote collaboration. Traditionally, Intranets have been built on proprietary platforms such as Sharepoint or Jive. But an open-source Drupal Intranet is becoming an increasingly popular and more viable option, as we've seen with clients like Stanford University and Curtiss-Wright. Compared to costly proprietary platform licensing fees that are typically based on the number of users, the cost of running a Drupal Intranet is significantly less than proprietary platforms.
Drupal’s out-of-the-box user management, collaboration features, and content management capabilities make it a natural fit for use as an Intranet. It easily integrates with employee account management systems like Active Directory and Central Authentication Service by way of the LDAP module or CAS module. Drupal’s core collaboration modules such as Forum and Comment, combined with numerous collaboration modules available in the Drupal community, offer organizations the ability to create a rich social business experience. In addition, its highly configurable content and file management features provide the ability to build an Intranet tailored to meet unique asset management needs.
For organizations needing enhanced user management, Drupal presents a variety of options. For those that already run Drupal as a web content management system, user management across the enterprise can be enhanced by adding single sign-on capability using one of a number of module options.
In fact, Mediacurrent helped a leading global open source software company migrate their Intranet from a legacy wiki technology to Drupal while implementing LDAP authentication and single sign-on for 5000 employees. LDAP authentication allowed employees to login to the company’s network and automatically authenticate with the Intranet. No additional Intranet login was required.
Drupal facilitates collaboration. In terms of enterprise content management, Drupal's rich feature set provides users the ability to exchange information via forums, streams, webforms and commenting. When combined with social networking modules for microblogging (Statuses), voting (Flag, Vote Up/Down, Fivestar, Rate), and following/friending (Flag Follow, Flag Friend), Drupal is capable of running as a full blown social business platform.
Mediacurrent partnered with Pegasystems to do just that - combining various social modules to create a collaborative destination for Pegasystems’ Developer Community. The Developer Community caters to numerous developers that use the Community for sharing knowledge about Pegasystems’ software products. It was originally running on a homegrown ASP application that performed sluggishly; updating content was time-consuming and there weren’t any features that allowed users to collaborate. Mediacurrent implemented the Advanced Forum module, private messaging and enhanced user profiles to promote user interaction and content contributions.
Content & Asset Management
Drupal eases data management throughout the enterprise. Widely known as a CMS, Drupal is fully capable of file and asset management. Its out-of-the-box content versioning feature automatically saves new versions of content that can be easily rolled back if needed. Adding the Diff module provides a granular view of any text and/or field values that changed from one version of content to the next. Furthermore, on-site and external media asset libraries can be managed using the Media module. If a defined publishing workflow with sophisticated access control is required, the Workbench suite can be utilized (it seamlessly integrates with Media). Drupal’s developer community supplies many other asset management modules that work with 3rd party services like Amazon S3 and Brightcove.
Another Intranet component that’s important when dealing with large amounts of corporate data is a strong search feature. Technologies like Apache Solr and Google Search can be plugged into a Drupal Intranet. Mediacurrent implemented the easy-to-configure Google Search Appliance (GSA) module on the open source software Intranet mentioned earlier, giving the organization’s users the ability to search over 70,000 pages of Intranet and other corporate data that had already been indexed by the GSA. Integrating the GSA was as simple as filling in a couple of form fields and clicking Save.
Quickly Deploying an Intranet
A Drupal Distribution may be a better option if an Intranet’s functional requirements aren’t extremely unique and launching quickly is the highest priority. Distributions such as Drupal Commons and Open Atrium are pre-configured installations that already have embedded Intranet-type features such as groups, commenting, activity streams, following, trending content, blogging, and a customizable user interface. Moreover, because Drupal’s architecture is based on the concept of “overrides,” these Distributions can be further enhanced with custom backend or frontend features without compromising the default features they’re packaged with. Often, it makes sense to start building an Intranet-style application with a Distribution.
Mediacurrent used Open Atrium as a foundation for building Ad Giant’s MODsocket product. MODsocket is a digital platform for managing advertising and marketing resources. Open Atrium was a logical choice as a technical foundation for MODsocket because its out-of-the-box group and case management features would have otherwise needed to be configured from the ground up.
Drupal’s wide selection of collaboration and user management tools, combined with its modular and flexible framework, make it a sound fit for use as an Intranet technology. Because its technical architecture was crafted with customization in mind, Drupal often surfaces as the logical cost-effective choice. What technology is your organization using for its Intranet? Is it meeting the needs of your business?