Drupal vs EPiServer vs SharePoint

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 21:12

I had a very interesting opportunity a few weeks ago: To speak at a customer event of Sininen Meteoriitti, one of the leading companies in Microsoft SharePoint Portal Technology in Finland. I was invited to defend Drupal in a fight where I had very competent opponents defending EPiServer and SharePoint.

This fight got started during last summer when I invited Perttu Tolvanen from Sininen Meteoriitti to defend SharePoint against Drupal at Drupal Business Days in Helsinki. We had a blast in trying to figure out strengths, weaknesses and differences between both products and ecosystems of Drupal and SharePoint. Based on success of this fight management of Sininen Meteoriitti decided (in display of considerable courage) to invite me to speak to at their event for a room full of SharePoint customers. I was naturally delighted on the opportunity to spread the word on why Drupal rocks, so I agreed.

To add a bit more challenge EPiServer, a Swedish CMS product that has a huge market share in Sweden and also a smaller presence on the Finnish market, was added to the mix this time. EPiServer was presented by their country manager for Finland, Kalle Bäckman. If Drupal and SharePoint are both quite similar in many ways EPiServer is really a different beast from both of them. This made the comparison at the same time much more difficult and interesting.

The fight itself was very interesting indeed. We had already decided on the criteria we would use to compare the systems on and mostly agreed on strong and weak points of each system before the event. This was the only way we managed to squeeze the fight in a single morning, but it sure didn't stop us from dealing some nice blows during the fight. I especially loved when Perttu was glowing about how SharePoint has such a great support ecosystem and some SharePoint customer from the crowd shouted: "That's only because SharePoint needs such huge amounts of support all the time!"

Slides have a lot of detailed information on our comparison, so I'm not going to repeat any of that. To summarize the fight I could just say that Drupal really rocks on complex, integrated web sites. On simpler sites Drupal would have to be used as a packaged product (distribution in Drupal lingo) to compete against simpler CMS systems such as EPiServer. On everything that has to do with online publishing + social Drupal has definitely a very strong position on. When we move to solutions with integrated file management such as knowledge management intranets SharePoint still beats us in most cases. Drupal is a strong competitor on many new fields, but we do have a lot to learn from commercial ecosystems like the one Microsoft runs together with their developers. That being said commercial ecosystems also have a lot to learn from Drupal ecosystem.

Based on the feedback we got from the fight audience really loved what they saw. We were also having fun while fighting and did also learn quite a bit when doing the comparisons. There is more to come for sure. Next similar event has actually already been booked for December...

* Please note that the slides have been translated from Finnish and some things might have been lost in translation, Perttu and Kalle are by no means responsible for the translated version of the slides


PDF icon drupal-episerver-sharepoint_1.pdf


I came to this post from http://planet.drupal.org because I noticed that all of your content appears as one big block. Looking at this page's source, I now see why...you're using div tags where you should be using p tags! I was just curious: why are you doing that?

To tell you the truth I'm not sure. The post was created as usual and since it looked ok I did not check the source. Now I can see that it had indeed div tags in place of p tags. Must have been some copy paste thing, can't remember exactly how I created the node. Thanks for pointing this out, I fixed the tags. Unfortunately I don't think Planet updates the post at this point.

It was a great show. Also big thanks to you for being very open and honest about Drupal's strenghts and weaknesses. I think our field needs more of these - everybody learns.

It is kinda funny that a big strenght of SharePoint is the support ecosystem - even though it can be said that SharePoint *needs* support. Not needing any support can be great thing (eg. Basecamp is a good example of project management system that really doesn't need any support services and can still work as a serious business tool for smaller organisations), but it is also a weakness when you don't have a strong network of local players around you. Without the local players you are left very alone. You can't do tailoring or extend the system in any way, you can't buy training or design help and in general you don't have any facilitators for the ecosystem. This is a big thing from customer point of view, and definitely something that Drupal ecosystem needs to work on.

And maybe there is a way of doing it without making the system so complicated that it *needs* support all the time ;)

Been using EPiServer for about a year now. It's absolutely awful. Constantly crashes. So many features the you take for granted in other CMS platforms are nonexistent and you want them you'll need and army of developers to implement them. We wasted the best part of $2million implementing the system. Should have just gone with Drupal. So, so p*ssoff with it. And the support team are completely ambivalent to the problems. Seriously give it a miss and find something else, anything else!