Drupal 8 and AWS in London – Two big announcements

We’ve had two big announcements recently which have the potential to move the UK IT industry to the next level. The first is that Amazon Web Services (AWS) are planning to open a datacenter in London and the second is that Drupal 8 has been released. The combination of in-country data storage and world leading open source provide a compelling proposition for UK organisations especially in the public sector.

An AWS data centre in London removes one of the last reasons people had not to go to the cloud. This was that UK data should not be stored outside of the UK. This isn’t necessarily a legal issue as they’re covered by the EU Data Protection regulations. What it does provide is more in the way of reassurance that the nice warm feeling that organisations get knowing that their UK data is being kept in the UK. It’s also more of a reassurance that if something went wrong you would be dealing with a UK team to sort it out.
There are of course the ongoing Safe Harbour concerns. This is where the US government is trying to argue that they have the right to access data stored in a data centre belonging to a US corporation (Microsoft battles US over warrant for drugs case emails) The jury’s still out on this one but all the big technology companies are fighting it and they have a lot of weight behind them.

There are potentially also some latency and performance benefits but in reality these are likely to be small. The existing EU datacenter in Ireland and Frankfurt aren’t that far away after all. The other It also helps to put the UK on the map as one of the few AWS regions in the world and shows how important Amazon see the UK market.

The other big news coming out recently is that Drupal 8 has been released. Drupal has been a popular open source tool for many years now and it’s generally seen as a more customisable and more featured solution to WordPress. Kind of a WordPress for more complicated sites. That’s only telling part of the story but it’s a good enough description for now.

Drupal 8 has a load of new features but for me the most important ones are:

  1. Improvements to the Contributor UI including in-line editing. In any CMS platform the Contributors are the key to success so any improvements to the UI are always good.
  2. Many modules are now built into the core product which means that there will be a lot less to configure. This should make Drupal easier to install and start using than it has been in the past and that will help it encroach on the WordPress market share.
  3. Releases are planned to be more incremental and scheduled. The idea is that they will come out at fixed times with whatever functionality is ready. This should avoid long delays like the five years between Drupal 7 and 8. It also brings it more in line with commercial software allowing organisations to schedule and plan for and importantly budget for upgrades well in advance.

The two announcements of course are complimentary. Whether you are using AWS directly or whether you are using one of the many Drupal hosting platforms which run on AWS the fact that you can now get all the benefits of a cloud infrastructure local to the UK and running the latest open source web platform gives you the potential for huge savings on your infrastructure costs and industry leading CMS functionality.