Things To Know Before Embracing Drupal Multisite Functionality

Things To Know Before Embracing Drupal Multisite Functionality

author By Urvashi Melwani Jan 28, 2020
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No wonder, the proliferation in the number of websites surfacing on the internet has stimulated the industrial groups to look out for alternatives to grab users' attention. In fact, a survey by Forrester stated in one of its reports that enterprises, on average, have to handle 268 customer-facing websites; which is enormous!

Consider a situation where several thousands of people are scattered over various geographical locations, working relentlessly to manage sites and deliver exceptional user experience.  

However, to manage even a small website change, a team of technically-sound people is required to oversee each of the alterations across its entire portfolio of sites, which with all probablity can turn disastrous!

Thus, to address these needs, Drupal offers its multisite configuration feature. Out of many benefits that multisite architecture offers, one of them is probably its easy configuration to set up and maintain.

The amalgamation of added features and simplified administration would be a winsome move for anyone wanting to set up and administer a multisite arrangement. This blog will help you understand the reasons for choosing Drupal multisite functionality-

Benefits of Using Drupal Multisite Architecture

Drupal’s multisite feature makes it a propitious pick for enterprises. Here’s why-

1. Maintenance and Security

With the proliferation in the variety of technologies or setup implemented, the complexity of maintenance and security has also seen an unanticipated upsurge. Given that, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of maintaining an online marketing presence and communication tools goes up to the whole other level. In such scenarios, keeping up a single CMS to ensure its security and maintenance is advantageous.

2. Content Management

The time-saving benefit of Drupal multisite functionality applies to content management also. In a multisite setup, a single content editing interface can update multiple websites and content pieces with just one update.

Content management can be aligned and made easier by publishing content to many domains or across sites with one content entry or modification. 

3. Easily Create and Configure New Websites

Within Drupal multisite solutions, there are features implemented specifically for admins, by which, without the need of developers and their support, they can create and configure new websites. Admins can now, for instance, style these websites also via custom themes or drag and drop page elements.

Capitalizing on such tools makes the return on investment for multisite setup more attractive since those tools make creating a large diversity of website types easier while decreasing the need for technical IT development services.

A multisite setup can, therefore, reduce both the cost (maintenance, development) and the time-to-market and content management efforts of websites and their content.

4. Standardization

Multisite systems can also prove beneficial for marketing departments and management, who struggle every day to get everyone on the same page and adhere to the brand guidelines in the organization. 

Contrary to the above scenario, a multisite environment enforces everyone across the organization to work within the structured tools and templates, thus making sure all content management takes place within the defined limits, and also the corporate branding guidelines specified in the theme templates are met. If done right- these decentralized departments may even gain more and better features than they would have developed on their own.

5. Each Site Can Have Its Own Theme & Features

A multisite using the same codebase does not imply that you are restricted to choose the same layout, design, and features. Rather you can install a unique theme and add whatever plugins you’d like to implement as per your requirements.

Simply put, all the sites are built using a single codebase which naturally gives users access to all of the themes and modules deployed. They can also turn them on/off depending on the needs of the particular site. 

Thus, dev teams can focus on building components and features for a community of sites. As a result, it will give an organization a powerful shared library of reusable integrations, functionality, UI components, and workflows.

The Domain Access Module

Managing a database of every single site that has been created (say 11) without the multisite feature can prove to be an exhausting task.

That’s why Drupal has developed the Domain Access module which helps in consolidating all the individual databases to a single central database. The centralized database enables users to share content, tools, and site features across all sites while simultaneously being able to change the appearance of each site. 

Besides, a single database is easier to manage, upgrade, and makes the perfect solution if all sites serve a similar function.


But as there are pros and cons of everything, so does Drupal multisite have. Below mentioned are the challenges of using Drupal Multisite-

1. Heavy Maintenance Required

Using Drupal for multiple sites with each serving different purposes and functions means you’ll have to manage and update each database separately. The Domain Access module won’t be helpful in such a case as every site is different and so their databases would. 

Further, running websites with different functions and different versions of Drupal is a veil of tears when it comes to updates and general site management from a single dashboard. 

In fact, Drupal multisite poses as a hindrance rather than a help.

2. Restricted Innovation and Flexibility

Deploying a single codebase makes maintenance a bit easier for developers, however, it also restricts innovation. For instance, if marketing teams want to develop an interactive microsite, then the developers would have to make a lot of adjustments to the single codebase (a time-consuming process) just to allow your marketing team to create one microsite that has the desired interactive features.

3. Single Point Of Failure

The sole responsibility and dependence on a single codebase to operate multiple sites can cost you exorbitantly on the failure of the code due to even a single flaw. If your Drupal platform is not regularly kept up-to-date, then your multisite is extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

4. Traffic Handling

If one of your Drupal sites experiences a huge spike in web traffic, then it can potentially impact the performance of other sites. That’s because of the hosting resources which would be hogged by the site attracting a lot of traffic.


Know more about Drupal multisite functionality from here

Is Drupal Multisite Right For Your Business?

Follow this golden rule to know whether your enterprise should use Drupal multisite platform or not-

  1. If the sites have similar functionality (for instance, if they use the same modules or same Drupal distributions) do it.
  2. If the functionality (across sites) differs, don’t use multisite

Generally, all modern enterprises and even most of the medium-scaled companies fall into the second category as each site is bound to vary in functionality in one way or another.

If your organization wants to deliver innovative marketing solutions and campaigns (interactive microsites), then Drupal’s multisite feature will enforce a lot of bottlenecks on your marketing team.

However, if most of your sites are composed of static pages that perform similar functions, then Drupal could prove a viable option.

From an IT and development perspective, maintaining Drupal multisite is quite difficult. The question that enterprises need to ask themselves is, does their organization possess enough resources to regularly update and maintain the system- as well as preparing for the inevitable migration process for every single one of your sites?

While there are several different issues that should be considered before opting Drupal’s multisite feature, here are some common reasons why site builders choose it-

  1. Users use multisite to create clone sites for others. (Single codebase, same features, and functionality except for the theme which varies site to site.
  2. Multisite is used by enterprises to host various interrelated sites, like a university with umpteen departments that all mostly need the same features, apart from some who need special things (shared core, shared module profile, with different sites having different custom modules).
  3. Sometimes multisite is used to upgrade a module on just one of the multiple sites to test out the upgrade so that one site has a newer version of the module than the other sites.
  4. Multisite is also used to economizing per-codebase hosting expenses either via upfront provider costs or because of difficulties provisioning and managing the hosting-in house.
  5. Multisite also decreases resource usage. Running the multiple sites that all share a single opcode cache is comparatively efficient.
  6. Multisite allows enterprises to quickly spin up a new sub site to work on a specific issue.

Summing Up

The primary function of any enterprise should be to find out whether they can leverage Drupal’s multisite feature or not, based on their requisites.

Multisite is an advanced proven site architecture that might not be as troublesome as it seems. Embracing the multisite platform can assist enterprises in delivering better and faster digital experiences. 

Contact us to learn more about the best multisite platform that can work wonders in your business environment.


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