Drupal vs AEM vs Liferay: Which Is the Best DXP for Your Enterprise Applications

| | 8 min read

Choosing a DXP is very crucial for organisations. Without a broad understanding of requirements and an impressive set of features to match the requirement, choosing DXP could be daunting and tricky. Here is a comparison between Drupal Vs Liferay Vs AEM (Adobe Experience Manager).

But before that, let’s get the basics.

What Is the Difference Between a CMS and a DXP?

Let’s explore what a content management system is and how it has evolved into a DXP.

Not so long ago, creating a relatively simple website could prove rather complex if it was expected to be visually attractive whilst maintaining a good structure and a variety of content. Updating the website content could also become challenging, as it was not intuitive and often required specific technical knowledge such as HTML!

The industry was crying out for a website-creation tool that's easy to use and did not require advanced technical resources.1 Ideally, the website could be managed, administered and maintained by staff from the communications or marketing departments rather than IT.

Content management systems, usually known by the acronym CMS, were created to respond to this need. And so began the revolution of the online world!



CMS to DXP: An Evolution

Many content managers on the market, such as AEM, Drupal or Liferay, have tried to reposition themselves as DXPs (Digital Experience Platforms).2 But not everyone fully understands the concept. So today, we would like to explain what a DXP is and how it differs from a CMS.

What Exactly Does a CMS Offer?

  • Content management system with customisable graphics, templates and themes.
  • Possibility to make the website multilingual.
  • Plugins to expand upon different features, such as WPML to translate WordPress pages.
  • Easy search engine ranking.

What is a DXP, and what is it for?

Gartner defines a DXP 3

as an

“integrated set of technologies, based on a common platform, that provides a broad range of audiences with consistent, secure and personalized access to information and applications across many digital touchpoints”.

It is the natural evolution of a CMS, but with a new perspective that is wholly focused on creating digital experiences for the customer. A DXP manages the user’s experience at each digital contact point: websites, mobile devices, social networks, marketing automation and content management.4

DXPs offer a central benchmark for each customer by increasing their ability to customise and providing an architecture for companies to digitise their business operations. It enables them to provide a great experience to the connected customers whilst simultaneously collecting their information and data.5



How Is a CMS Different from a DXP?

We could say that a DXP is a hybrid platform composed of CMS, DAM and e-Commerce with maximum potential for customisation for the client. As you can see, a DXP provides much more than just a content manager. They take it one step further, intending to retain and increase conversions. What do they offer?

  • Content management
  • e-Commerce
  • Management of digital assets
  • Translation
  • CRM
  • Omni-channel processes
  • Marketing automation
  • Customisation of the content sent to the user
  • Social networks
  • Analytics
  • Data management platforms
  • Video management

Why Use a Digital Experience Platform?

The benefits of using a digital experience platform include:

  • Identify user needs in real-time
  • Gain a holistic understanding of customers through more comprehensive data and information
  • Improve the accuracy of marketing efforts and optimise your touchpoints with customers
  • Become more adaptable to shifts in digital trends through a flexible architecture
  • Build more responsive applications and integrate them more easily into existing systems
  • Integrate your technology stack, so your siloed systems speak to one another

Compare Drupal vs AEM vs Liferay 

The following digital experience platforms should be on your radar. Keep reading to summarise each tool—what works, what doesn’t.

1. Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is an enterprise content management system that optimises content and digital media’s authoring, management, and delivery.6 AEM allows you to create unique digital experiences and manage fully context-specific messages that scale across products, services, organisations, and countries. After switching to AEM, Adobe claims that teams deliver new brand and nation sites 66% faster and are 23% more productive.3

In short, it helps you give the right person a personalised message at the perfect moment.

Features of AEM include: 

  • Connected DAM (Digital Asset Management) 
  • Adobe Asset Link Extension with AEM Assets
  • Integrate Adobe Assets with Adobe Stocks
  • Brand Portal Capabilities
  • Adobe Experience Manager SPA (Single Page Application) Editor
  • Smart Crop
  • Visual Search
  • Headless Content Delivery

AEM Benefits for Enterprises:

  • Easier integration with other marketing tools
  • Automation of metadata and content tag designation
  • Ready-made components
  • Centralised environment
  • Developer-driven customisation 
  • Scalability
  • Workflows for content management
  • Content personalisation for different groups of website visitors

Disadvantages of AEM for Enterprises:

  • This platform can be challenging to learn, especially if you are not a tech-savvy person.
  • The user interface with AEM can be pretty inconsistent.
  • You need different sign-ins to access other areas of the system.
  •  AEM requires a heavy IT presence throughout the lifespan of this product.
  • There is not much flexibility available in AEM’s structure.
  • AEM is an integrator-dependent platform.
  • The cost of Adobe Experience Manager puts it out of reach for most companies.

2. Drupal

Drupal is an open-source content management system (CMS). It is written in the PHP programming language and distributed under a GNU General Public License. Drupal can help individuals build various Web projects with its template resource that promotes user-friendly results.

Drupal is perfect for both the default features and the customised ones. It provides you with the most common functionalities any website needs but is also flexible enough to allow you to create a unique, bespoke experience. Here are some of Drupal’s key benefits:

  • Flexible, easy-to-use content authoring tools
  • “Create once, publish anywhere” approach to content management
  • Highly customisable features
  • Powerful API-first architecture
  • Numerous, freely available modules (add-on functionality)
  • Constant innovation powered by a massive, engaged community

To accomplish that, Drupal provides numerous out-of-the-box features. The more you can learn about how Drupal works, the more you’ll be able to leverage its full range of features.

Features of Drupal include: 

  • WYSIWYG authoring and editing tool that allows editors and admins to search for quickly, draft, edit, preview, archive, publish and update content
  • Customisable workflows and approvals, as well as revisions, so that you can track every content update and revert to a previous version.
  • Performance-optimised caching mechanisms
  • Recommended add-on (contrib) modules
  • Easy-to-use form builder to create anything from a simple contact form or survey to complex, multi-step application forms
  • Schedule when your content is published in advance
  • Customisable, user-friendly URLs and configurable meta-tags for every piece of content
  • Robust search experience and integration with enterprise-grade search engines (Elasticsearch or Solr)
  • Migrate system allows you to feed data into Drupal
  • Multilingual content & user interface
  • Accessibility compliance (WCAG AA)

Drupal is usually mentioned in the same breath as WordPress and Joomla. Like those other popular content management systems (CMSs), Drupal offers a vast array of services and features ideal for small businesses, e-commerce, or personal websites. But is Drupal right for you7  We weigh the pros and cons.

Advantages of a Drupal CMS:

  • Scalability
  • Quick set up
  • Fewer control costs
  • SEO-friendly content/URLs
  • Clear, concise data
  • Interoperability
  • Open-Source
  • Developer-Friendly
  • Produces Highly Advanced Sites
  • Great for Community Platform Sites
  • Flexible and Versatile
  • Suitable for creating large, complex websites
  • Supported by a dedicated community
  • Security is a significant emphasis

The Cons of Using Drupal

  • Large learning curve
  • Major updates can be an effort
  • Drupal can consume so much of resources if not appropriately tweaked, rendering it slow
  • For large websites, contributed module compatibility can be an issue
  • It doesn’t work well for custom applications
  • More complex than other CMSs
  • Requires time and effort

3. Liferay

Liferay is an open-source enterprise portal which is free and mainly used to enable corporate extranet and intranet. It is a robust web application platform written in Java and offers many features helpful in developing portals and websites.8 Its built-in web content management system allows users to create websites and portals by integrating themes, portlets (pluggable UI software components) and pages.

Liferay boasts over 4M lifetime downloads and enjoys a highly vibrant community of over 45,000 members.

Some features of Liferay, which have made it so popular among businesses, are mentioned below. 

Features of Liferay include:

  • Simplified User Interface Development: It offered simplified internal and external websites for different users. It uses a singular presentation layer for all businesses.
  • Flexible Enterprise Integration Framework: Its central presentation layer allows administrators, users, and developers to integrate various services from backend applications.
  • Liferay Secure Single Sign-On: It can integrate all different systems for the end-users while accessing these applications by logging in through the Secure Single Sign-On.
  • Custom Fields: The administrator now can edit, add, and customise attributes of the users directly from the portlets of Liferay without accessing or modifying the company database.
  • Liferay Extensive Support: Liferay provides support for different platforms such as web content, documents, blogs, image files, calendars, forums, bookmarks, wiki pages etc.

Advantages of Liferay:

  • Advanced pages hierarchy and documents & media/web contents segregation
  • Advanced users & permissions system
  • Multiple instances or sites on the same server
  • Clustering support
  • Custom, reusable parts of the page with portlets and custom modules

Disadvantages of Liferay:

  • Complexity
  • Server resources
  • WordPress like plugins/themes
  • Vision should be independent.
  • Slower processing 
  • Not a well-organised framework
  • Portal Security: It has a good security model, but in a few areas, it requires improvement.
  • Encrypt LDAP passwords on import
  • Log in should be via SSL by default
  • The upgrade/patch process should include an alert in the control panel
  • Add virus scan for uploaded files

Which is the Best DXP?

Unlike other CMS platforms, Drupal is built to be customisable and has always made it possible to integrate with other tools of your choosing.9 Depending on your requirements, you can integrate your Drupal website with different payment gateways, CRMs, analytics tools, social media, marketing automation platforms, and native apps, the first and most crucial quality a DXP requires.

Recent changes have formalised Drupal’s approach to integrating with other platforms and solidified its role as an effective content hub which other CMSes like AEM and Liferay lack.10 Its exclusive API-First architecture and the addition of media management and views in the core make its content model more consistent while still being incredibly flexible.

Drupal Vs AEM Vs Liferay: ‘The Verdict’

Drupal provides a flexible and adaptable toolkit emphasising efficiency and speed. Independent of the features mentioned above, Drupal is chosen as a CMS platform by most organisations because of its innovative features with thousands of plugins offering customisation. 9 Also, one of the unique features of Drupal is its transparency. Developers prioritise and mitigate security risks both in Core Drupal and Drupal Contribution Modules to deliver quality results.

Contemplating the above information, it is no wonder that Drupal is relatively replacing other CMS like Liferay and AEM.

Here is another article related to this topic worth reading: Why Drupal is a Worthy Contender to AEM for Fortune 500 Companies

Looking to leverage Drupal's innovative features and flexibility for your organization? Our Drupal development and consulting services can help you build a powerful and customized website or application that meets your specific needs. Contact us today to learn more and start your Drupal project.