What do you do when the Marketing department wants exclusive creative control over their company’s website content and the ability to deploy new content at will? You implement a more robust Content Management System (CMS). There are an endless number of CMS on the market; it’s difficult to narrow the choices down. The simple request really came down to allowing Marketing to post latest news and urgent product updates; while managing who can edit and publish content. After extensive research and a favored “free” PHP solution, Drupal was in fact the chosen one. Not surprisingly, several mega companies including McDonalds, Best Buy, AT&T & Stanford utilize Drupal for at least a portion of their website content control.
The timeframe for moving all the content from the existing sites and getting everything up and running was tight and there was never really any budget to speak of. In addition, Drupal doesn’t offer support unlike the popular .net competitor Dotnetnuke. However, there is an awesome online community of users willing to help. The primary challenge was our chosen database platform of Microsoft SQL 2008 R2 and Windows 2008 IIS 7.5. These platforms aren’t favored highly by the open source world. With this in mind we were off on a grand adventure.
With our requirements list in place we began to create our first Microsoft driven Drupal server. Initial plans were to utilize a Unix, Apache and Mysql backend. With the majority of IT having very limited working experience of Apache & Mysql we finally chose to use IIS 7.5 and MSSQL2008 R2. A simple Google search indicated the success rate of using Drupal with a Microsoft backend wasn’t very high. However, MSSQL2008 R2 allowed us the ability to implement mirroring and ultimately has the disaster recovery model a large corporation needs. Also, since nearly every other system in house was running on a Microsoft server we didn’t want to upset the ship.
Through countless hours of trial and error and a little bit of luck; we finally had our first F5 load-balanced Drupal web servers up and running. This setup included a seamless SQL mirroring design which automatically failed over when there was a connectivity issues with one of the database nodes detected by Drupal. Having implemented such a versitile CMS system I would highly recommend anyone giving Drupal a try. There were a few gothchas along the way, including the IIS configuration with multi site and the php SQL Mirroring driver configuration. All in all it was worth the effort and most importantly the Marketing department was extremely happy with their new and improved CMS and who doesn’t want a happy Marketing department.