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Insights / Blog / Tech

What impact will Drupal 8 have on the European Market?

January 15, 2015
Alain VeuveAlain VeuveManaging Director, AOE Switzerland

Find out why two of the industry's leading CMS solutions are most successful in that market in which each individual system's strengths are reflective of the basic mentality in the respective market: Drupal in the United States and TYPO3 in Europe. And find out why Drupal 8 might change the equation in Europe.

Traditionally, Drupal has had a strong presence in the United States whereas other solutions dominate in Europe, first and foremost, TYPO3. Now, Drupal 8, a thoroughly overhauled version of Acquia's software, is preparing to enter the global market. Read on to find out which ramifications this could have for the European market.

Enterprise market and total-installed basis

Figures regarding market share of Open Source CMS should be taken with a grain of salt. On the one hand, they differ significantly from service to service (CMS Crawler,, etc.); on the other, they mislead the reader into drawing incorrect conclusions. Basically, what we are really interested in are websites maintained by mid-sized businesses and large corporations. All indices, however, consider all installations, which is, among others, one reason why e.g. WordPress has such a high distribution. Miller's, Smith's and even Veuve's blog are based on it. So, though the numbers are correct, they lack relevance, since market penetration of the enterprise sector is insignificant (excluding the obligatory exceptions).

TYPO3 CMS is the clear leader in the European enterprise sector - a role filled by Dupal in the US. And even if there actually are Drupal installations in larger companies in Europe, heretofore the system hasn't been able to make inroads in Europe to the same degree as in the US. Why is that?

Quarterly-oriented- vs. investment-oriented thinking

Websites have significantly shorter life cycles in the United States. For one, this can be linked to the "quarterly-oriented thinking" prevalent in the American economy. Every new head of marketing or IT starts a new web project and projects are generally written off over a shorter time span. Europe, on the other hand, is more "investment-oriented". The web platform is regarded as an investment and is continually developed - even when one considers that the appearance is altered irregularly throughout the years. Until now, Drupal was de facto "un-updateable" - TYPO3 has clear advantages in this area. To a certain extent, the products reflect the basic mentalities prevalent in the respective markets.

Of course there are additional reasons why TYPO3 is not as widespread in the US. The name, for example, is not ideal (typo 3). Also, Americans are less than enthusiastic when it comes to adopting European developments. Nevertheless, there are renowned American corporations that rely on TYPO3.

Drupal 8 - the game changer?

If one asks German agencies why they don't use Drupal, one often gets the answer that the code quality is simply insufficient. Especially TYPO3 service providers are proud of their quality standards and are unwilling to compromise when it comes to this issue. This standard is supported by the demand (investment-oriented thinking), which also places a high value on quality.

Quality and Drupal?

Drupal 8 has been completely redesigned and it seems that the quality has been improved. For instance, Drupal 8 has been fully programmed with an object-oriented approach. The development phase of this monumental project, which has been protracted since March 2011, has been marked by the implementation of new features and concepts. If one observes the (communicated) progress, one gets the impression that the work has been carried out diligently and carefully. With all due respect this is unusual for an American software company. Usually, a "release-over-completion" mentality prevails. Most European agencies will therefore carefully check out Drupal 8 and one can expect that one or more of them will place their bets on the new system. This can have a negative impact on TYPO3, but primarily it will affect proprietary systems integrators.

Symfony and Drupal

In my opinion it is clever for Drupal 8 to use Symfony components. Even if Drupal 8 is not built completely on Symfony (additional technical information), it will be at least partially interoperable with Symfony applications. This is a "no-brainer", especially for IT decision makers; if I, as CIO, am already implementing Symfony applications, I will surely rely on a CMS that uses the same framework. The specific implementation and use are secondary, for the deciders it's definitely a no-brainer.

Functional scope

Compared to its predecessor, Drupal 8 is extensively improved and has a number of new features. Of course this lengthens development time considerably. That one accepts this is admirable but not surprising, since Drupal 8 has been declared as the successor to version 7. This means that users must at least be able to utilize the most popular features in the accustomed quality, if the new version is to be a success. One reason Acquia continues to be successful are the massive, venture-based investments in sales and business development, which enable the company to also gain market share with Drupal 7. The lack of innovation pressure (compared to other industries) in the CMS industry allows Acquia the freedom and time to complete the development of the system in (felt) peace and quiet. A complete range of features will be an enormous advantage in the market. At least in the mid-term this completeness is more highly regarded by customers than a few killer features.

Marketing and business-development efforts in EMEA

It is an open secret that Acquia is redoubling efforts in the European market - for instance through two venture capital rounds (Series F Round, NEA and Amazon). We won't see the actual efforts in this case until Drupal 8 is released. Acquia will pump significant investments into the European market and attempt to generate "gravitas". This will increase demand for Drupal solutions, which in turn will give agencies more reasons to include Drupal 8 in their product portfolios. This will be easier than with other solutions, since developers with Symfony expertise can work relatively easily with Drupal 8. At least it will not be unappealing to them.

The items mentioned above will help push Drupal 8 in the European market. Until now, Acquia does not yet have a branch office in Germany and 75 percent of all Acquia employees (575 persons and counting) are still based in the US. But, to really make an impact in Europe, they need a German office. In my opinion it won't be long after the release of Drupal 8 before this will happen.

When will Drupal 8 be released?

The question most people ask is, "When will Drupal 8 be released?" Acquia has been clever, and not walked onto thin ice, by communicating that the release will take place when Drupal 8 is finished - the definition of "finished" not being quite clear. Currently, Drupal 8 is in Beta and will enter the Release Candidate Phase as soon as all critical issues have been fixed. As of this writing those issues total 84. You can find the log here. If the velocity for fixing issues is maintained, we can expect Drupal 8 to hit the market in the first half of 2015.