A Drupal Sharepoint integration is usually marked by a public facing website for anonymous users, built on Drupal, combined with a Sharepoint intranet that is used for document management and internal collaboration by authenticated employees.

This integration plays to the strengths of both the platforms. Drupal provides dynamic websites and content management, with easy authoring, workflows, multisite and multilingual capabilities. At the same time, Sharepoint connects enterprise resources, and gives enterprises the benefits of structured processes and leveraging existing IT systems.

Here's how we approached the Drupal Sharepoint Integration issue

A potential client of ours in the education space in India is seeking to redesign and rebuild their website. They've been advised using Drupal open source content management system for their website, which is why they approached us. However, since they have a highly successful Sharepoint implementation on their intranet using which they manage classrooms and courses, they were seeking advise on whether Drupal would be the right move or no. And if yes, should they actually replace their Sharepoint-based intranet as well.

We had clarified that Drupal would be a great move for the website for sure, but we would need to evaluate how they were using their intranet, to make a case for a Drupal implementation, or recommendation of staying with Sharepoint. We clarified that we would NOT like to hard-sell Drupal, and land ourselves, and the client, in trouble with the Drupal implementation for the intranet. They were relieved to hear this rather fair stand.

So, here's what we wrote to them recently. I thought this may be useful for other organisations who are facing the same dilemma.

After the last demo, we believe there is a case for you to retain Sharepoint in the backend. Building Course management and Classroom management systems in Drupal is not going to be easy, apart from adding complexity of re-training the users. So we clearly recommend staying with Sharepoint for the intranet.

Your website in Drupal
At the same time, we continue to believe strongly that Drupal is the best platform for you to build your front-end website, as opposed to staying with bespoke .NET based content management systems. As part of your long-term web strategy, bespoke systems would fail to live upto the dynamism that the website of your institution may require.

Marrying Drupal with Sharepoint

In early 2008 Microsoft, IBM and EMC, were joined by several Open Source enterprise content management systems, to create a web services interface to interoperate across different Enterprise Content Management repositories. This is known as CMIS. Sharepoint soon thereafter released its own CMIS connector. Soon after this release, Acquia, Optaros, Alfresco (all large enterprise implementors) collaborated leading to the release of a CMIS connector API for Drupal.

This may sound complicated to the non-technical reader, but there is a real case building up over the last 3+ years on using the strengths of different systems to perform different functions.

Sharepoint (and other similar Business Collaboration suites) does one part of the job really well, while Drupal as a pure Content Management System is unbeatable in that space. Technology is mature enough to allow collaboration between these systems.

There is a strong case for you building your website in Drupal, while retaining Sharepoint as your intranet. From a business perspective as well - of time-to-market, mitigating risk, minimising training needs - this case for Drupal Sharepoint integration is strengthened.


    * http://drupal.org/project/cmis
    * http://www.cmswire.com/cms/enterprise-cms/sharepoint-2010-gets-its-official-cmis-connector-008074.php
    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_Management_Interoperability_Services
    * http://www.emc.com/about/news/press/2008/091008-smr-content-management-interoperability-services.htm