Dotnetnuke Community Edition Comparison Essay

You used to know Internetdevels as a reliable Drupal development company. We are always trying to satisfy your every need, which is why our team was recently enriched with specialists dealing with .NET. Now you have an opportunity to choose a CMS appropriate for your site. In this blog post we describe the differences and similarities between them, and their strengths and weaknesses for you to compare and decide which one is the best solution for your company.

Examples of web resources made with Drupal and .NET based CMS

We have already written in more details about top ten Drupal websites. Here we made a list of some scalable web portals for such organizations and institutions as:

  • Government Institutions: French Government Portal, Australian Government, UK government, US White House, Prime Minister of Belgium;
  • Media: World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), MTV UK, many magazines produced by BBC, The Hollywood Reporter;
  • Museums: Louvre (France), Charles Dickens Museum (UK), South Australian Maritime Museum, Museum Association of Arizona;
  • Universities: the University of Oxford, Harvard University, Portland State University, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia;
  • E-commerce: Zappos, Best Buy Mobile, USAopoly, Zondervan, French perfume house Guerlain.

Some big and famous sites developed using .NET. are:

  • Microsoft’s open-source project hosting site CodePlex
  • Private American hosting and domain registration company GoDaddy
  • The largest online community for programmers Stack Overflow
  • A community for computer programmers, with articles, called the Code Project
  • Educational web technologies site W3Schools
  • American multinational retail corporation Walmart (now an app also)
  • Vehicle evaluation and automotive research company Kelley Blue Book
  • World's biggest package delivery company UPS
  • Daily News, a New York newspaper
  • The Independent, a UK newspaper
  • Miami Herald, a daily newspaper
  • Entertainment media company Diply
  • Site for funny videos, clips and pictures Break.

CMS stands for a content management system or content management software. It is a computer program for publishing editing, modifying, indexing and displaying websites’ content and maintenance from a central interface. It provides procedures (manual steps or an automated cascade) to manage workflow in a collaborative environment.

Drupal core has all the characteristics of a CMS. It allows you to deploy core features and functionality very fast and to deliver solutions that address complex business requirements in a robust, structured and cost-effective manner. Drupal is highly customizable, SEO-friendly, mobile-ready, enterprise-class and has an extensive API support.

There are a few .NET based CMS. We are going to describe and compare each one with Drupal to find benefits of using one over another.

DNN vs Drupal

DNN stands for Dot Net Nuke. It is one of the most popular open source CMS based on Microsoft .NET. It can be used as a CMS and as an application development framework. It can quickly create highly interactive, rich and modular sites and applications. It has a lot of options for themes and plugins to design custom skins with a separation between design and content. Drupal offers 2,000+ premium themes with multiple options.

DNN’s core includes third-party modules. Once uploaded, they are automatically put in a DNN installation. They allow you to create an intranet, an e-comm system, a custom-made web app and many other things. As for Drupal modules (there are more than 20,000 of them, all free), they have such additional features as custom content types, WYSIWYG editors, aliases generator, and others.

Drupal is an ideal option for people unwilling to learn sophisticated skills, because the Drupal community always tends to simplify in order to provide a better user experience. For example, Drupal 8 became more user-friendly than previous versions by adding Drag’n’Drop, skip navigation to Core themes, and so on. A beginner with few skills will found DNN more difficult to deal with because of its on page administration. In this situation, all tasks need to be done page by page or module by module. But if you are a fan of Microsoft technologies and aren’t afraid of something effort,, DNN may be a nice choice for you.

Umbraco vs Drupal

Umbraco can be used to run anything from a brochure or small campaign site to complex applications for corporations from Fortune 500 list. Some of big brands using this fully-featured CMS are: Vogue (Japan), Costa, Heinz and Peugeot, Toyota and Warner Bros. Both Drupal and Umbraco are used by large names in business.

Lots of web designers, developers and content creators enjoy Umbraco because it’s mature, robust, and easy to learn, use and customize. It supports both WebForms and MVC. However, some configuring is required to get started, except for installing it with a Starter Package. Out of the box, Drupal allows creating new kinds of content, changing layouts, changing permissions, adding roles and so on. Drupal and Umbargo are both open source and both have free and licenced modules. The majority of cloud hosting providers are Drupal-friendly, while Umbraco is supported by Windows Azure.

Kentico vs Drupal

Kentico is a CMS and CEMS (Customer Experience Management System) that fits well for building intranets, e-commerce and community sites on premise or in a cloud. It supports multilingual and mobile sites, translation, document and multi-site management, marketing automation and online marketing tools. It has 400+ built-in configurable web parts, 70+ modules, many options for plugins and source code.

Kentico is highly configurable, and it can be easily extended and modified to meet your needs. Its UI and layouts are really easy to navigate. It uses a tree hierarchy to organize site’s pages, so you can easily find any page and edit it. So, if comparing this CMS with Drupal, we may say that both of them are quite user-friendly and suitable for users of all levels.

Sitefinity vs Drupal

Sitefinity is a next generation CMS developed by Telerik for designing intranets, portals, sites and blogs. Its revolutionary new interface is very task oriented. This simplifies the user system interaction. For template management Sitefinity uses Controls and Master Pages .NET standards. It is the first and only CMS that enable you to take advantage of all three mobile development strategies: responsive web design, mobile sites and mobile applications.

Nevertheless, it has its weak points — for example, the lack of support. It can be challenging to design simple things like custom blocks and forms that don't match creative types of content. Drupal, on the other hand, is complete out-of-the-box. As for similarities, Sitefinity provides a Drag’n’Drop content creation experience, like Drupal 8 does.

Sitecore vs Drupal

Sitecore is an enterprise-level CMS as well as a fully-adaptive DMS (Digital Marketing System). It provides public websites, secure portals and web apps. It unites the power of personalization and conversation management facilitating companies to create and manage business solutions. However, because of its proprietary nature, Sitecore is not well suited for custom-made sites, as opposed to Drupal, which has a strong ability to be customized encouraged by its open source origins.

Both CMS offer high-quality security, patching any vulnerabilities immediately. In Sitecore each install is managed separately and onsite. Thus, you need to keep in contact with vendors constantly to be sure that patches are installed in proper time. This is only available when SiteCore themselves identify a vulnerability, and then create the patch. Drupal has the opportunity to report and prioritize the mitigation of vulnerabilities discovered both in core and in contributed modules. Usually, the Acquia Cloud Enterprise platform is patched even before the security threat is brought to light. The community nature of open source also encourages thousands of activists to keep under observation and report anything concerning security.

The end purpose

Drupal is a great choice for ecommerce, for university websites, for mass media, for political and other scalable sites and allows to built them on any type of operating system.

.NET based CMS are good either for websites or for different applications: mobile apps, web apps and desktop apps. We use Xamarin, Web and Windows forms, WPF and MVC for them.

Looking for specialists

Drupal received appreciation from lots of Drupalists all over the world. To find well-qualified PHP developers or Linux server administrators is not a problem — it’s easy and time-saving, which is why it’s cheaper. Comparatively speaking, it’s challenging to find IT specialists working with .NET. Our company has some of these specialists with 15 years’ experience of .NET developing — one of our many benefits.

Summary

If your final goal is an application of any kind, we would advise using .NET CMS, and if you need a scalable website we recommend you use Drupal. Which one you choose depends on you. We offer both — so just let us know your ideas.

Five Things Everyone Should Know First

Microsoft has spent a ton of money and time on Azure and they have done a pretty good job of hijacking the term “the cloud” as well. I do not want to take anything away from their accomplishments: they are very close to achieving a limited version of grid computing. Grid computing is a great solution for certain CPU/IO related tasks, however, when deploying websites on a grid infrastructure, there are important potential issues that you should be aware of.

1. Grids: A World Without Backups 

Grid-based infrastructures treat resources similar to the way that most people treat electricity: we might have redundant power grids and we might have a battery backup for our mission critical device, but nobody ever worries about having a copy of the electricity that comes over the power lines in an emergency. Grid based systems have no backups.

In fact, Microsoft will be the first to tell you this:

“A backup and restore strategy is a necessary [sic] to protect against data loss. The built-in fault tolerance capabilities of Windows Azure protect your data from individual server, network, and device failures. However, in order to protect your data against user or application errors, or a total loss of a region, you must create your own backup of the data.” [Emphasis Added]

Ref: Microsoft Azure Policies – viewed July 13, 2013

Fault tolerance is different from backups. Fault tolerance protects against simple things like a bad hard drive or a failed NIC. Backups protect against things like a failed upgrade or accidentally deleting the wrong file. You need both fault tolerance and backups.

With Azure, if you make a mistake, you are on your own.

The team at DNNCorp has tried to mitigate this by implanting an “in sever” backup and file export function in the DNN Platform and Evoq products.  But this is a far cry from a professional, regularly scheduled backup and restore policy to a distinct server NAS that is designed for complete data protection and point-in-time restoration (this is so important that we have an entire set of documented policies and a white paper on it).

2. The Pitfalls of “Unlimited” Scalability 

Often times grid providers talk about scaling an app “from one server to thousands of servers.” This sounds great, but what does that really mean? How will your site perform and what will it cost?

In order to provide that “unlimited” scalability, grid providers allow resource fragmentation. Even at Azure’s exorbitant prices (see below), the only way they can make their margin is to pack interconnected servers and racks as full and as tight as possible. So, when you order more resources, what happens? Bits of CPU, RAM, and disk are accessed from other virtual servers. Those servers may be in the same rack, the rack next door, or theoretically across the datacenter. This is why when a single rack goes haywire it can bring down an entire region—impacting thousands of sites (as has happened on Azure a few times already).

There is another thing about fragmentation that you should consider—performance. Just as a fragmented hard drive slows down file access and overworks the drive, resource fragmentation adds latency. Firing up even a simple DNN website takes literally tens of thousands of interactions and the farther apart the resources are from each other, the slower the end result will be.

As you scale over time, you might find that—in addition to the direct cost increases—you pay an additional price in performance.

3. Not “Really” DNN Anymore … nor is it Evoq – Speaking with a “Forked” Tongue

Most of the time, a software company works very hard to avoid “forking” a software package. Maintaining two packages in parallel is difficult at best and almost never fully successful—at some point a feature or function usually ends up missing or different from one or the other branches.

DNN Corp has recently rebranded and retooled. Now you can get the various flavors of DNN—including DNN Platform, Evoq Content, and Evoq Social—in both Professional and Enterprise versions. But you can also order “Evoq in the Cloud,” which are versions of the paid-for software installed and hosted on Azure. Importantly, they are specially modified versions—meaning that they are different from the other ones sold or for free on the DNNSoftware website.

This makes sense at one level in that it can take a bit of juggling to make an application that is designed to run on a single cloud server run reasonably well spread across an unknown number of servers or resource sets. But any good website developer will also tell you that this can present some major problems: captivation and migration being the two biggest ones. If you are launching/building a brand new site, you may not even notice … at first. But:

  • If you ever think that you might want to migrate away from Azure for growth or cost reasons, keep that in mind.
  • If you want to migrate into Azure, it is problematic from the get-go.
  • And finally, if you want to build a skin, module, or architecture once and use it multiple times, consider that building “for” Azure carries its limitations.

4. Azure Uptime: You did maintenance when!?!

Turns out that all of those interlaced server racks sharing resources is pretty complex. Faults and failures in one area are magnified to impact far more sites. Even Microsoft itself clearly states that their uptime SLA is only 99.9% for caching, Content Delivery (CDN), Media, Mobile, and SQL Database. Datacenter pros call this “3 nines,” and unless you are an internet professional, that sounds pretty good. If you are an internet pro, you understand that this is at least one full order of magnitude less than industry standard. It means that Microsoft allows nearly 9 hours of unplanned downtime per year without violating their SLA. For Virtual Machines (VMs) and Cloud Services, their number is about half that—4.4 hours per year. There is anecdotal evidence that they have struggled to meet even these marks.

Most cloud hosting providers set the mark at less than 53 minutes of unscheduled maintenance per year—ten times stronger that Microsoft’s Azure SLA.

Ref: Microsoft Azure SLAs – viewed July 12, 2013

In addition to that, consistent performance has been a continual problem for Azure. Would you want someone rebooting your server in the middle of the day? Believe it or not that happens all of the time on Azure. At any point throughout the day, your services on Azure may be “recycled” (a fancy new marketing term for a “super reboot”). Azure doesn’t give you a warning or let you stop it. When your customer asks why their website was running slow or was unavailable, you may be limited to saying, “Azure might have been rebooting our server, but we’re not quite sure.”

5. Cheaper … Not! 

This one confounds me. Maybe it is because the marketing teams at Microsoft and Amazon are pretty good at their jobs, but resource-for-resource, Amazon and Azure are some of the most expensive hosting that you can buy anywhere.

We did an exhaustive cost comparison complete with references and screen shots for a white paper on the subject. But what it boils down to if that Amazon EC2 and Azure offer generally lower up-time SLAs, no backups, and higher  prices under a cloak of ethereal marketing hype for “the cloud” based on technology that is little different from that offered by other professional hosting companies. If you’re interested in reading the pricing comparison details—along with an architectural analysis—shoot us an email at: sales@powerdnn.com

Read for yourself. You make the call.

Again, DNN Corp has attempted to cover this on the short run by bundling Azure in with certain paid licenses—obscuring the related costs … for now.  But those costs are there.  I have been around hosting for some time and it is a common tactic to offer free or steeply reduced hosting when trying to break into the business and gain a few customers to test your new services.  But we are all smart enough to understand that nothing is free and that hosting costs something.  Every company that has used this tactic has had the strategy to bring prices up to market rates.  Indeed, that’s the whole point of captivation, right?  The most expensive cloud services available cannot keep their costs in the shadows for too long.

Thanks for reading.

(This post was our most-read of the year and stirred up passionscheers, jeers, and questions from the DNN community. Those questions and jeers deserved a response, So we followed up with a second post the following week.)

Microsoft, Azure, and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation [MSFT].
DotNetNuke, DNN, Evoq, and DNNSoftware are trademarks of DotNetNuke Corporation [DNN] – used with permission.
PowerDNN and the “Power P” logo are trademarks of PowerDNN.

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