Thursday 21st June 2012 by iansmith
The benefits of using Drupal 7 to manage multiple sites
We’ve been delivering large web builds and applications using Drupal for several years now, so I thought it high time we publish a review on some of the best solutions we’ve come across.
One of the most technically challenging things a client can ask for is a content management system (CMS) to manage multiple sites, or multiple campaigns.
Drupal comes complete with an inbuilt multi-site solution but this only means that the code or the database powering the site is shared, while the administration staff still need to log into separate sites to make their updates.
Another option in Drupal is to use a module called Domain Access, which allows users to administer multiple sites using a shared CMS. Having now built two large sites with this module I thought I’d give a breakdown of the good, the bad, and who the system will work well for.
Firstly the good
- The solution uses the same list of installed modules, so any security or general updates to Drupal core or the contributed modules will only need to be done once.
- Adding new sites is simple, and after some basic configuration users can start creating new pages immediately to the new site.
- Content can be affiliated out to multiple sites, perfect for white label solutions, or publishing sites.
- Separate teams end up working from one CMS, which means knowledge sharing is better and training is less fragmented.
- We have hardly found a situation where a contributed module we’ve wanted to use didn't work with Domain Access, so Drupal’s large module repo is still at your disposal.
- If there are any problems with the database / code it will affect all sites on the multi-site. Convenience comes at a cost, which is why the engineering solution that sits behind it must be thought about.
- The system works well for similar sites sat together, because you have a specific list of modules switched on for all active sites. So therefore not ideal for sites requiring very different functionality.
So, who is this built for?
From working heavily with this solution, I would suggest it to publishers managing multiple magazines, multiple shops running from the same company, and as a campaign tool that would allow the quick creation of micro sites for brands and charities.