AEM vs Drupal: A Comprehensive Comparison of Content Management Systems

AEM vs Drupal: A Comprehensive Comparison of Content Management Systems


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison guide between AEM and Drupal, two widely used Content Management Systems (CMS). If you are a digital leader or decision-maker looking to select the best CMS for your organization, this guide will provide you with an in-depth analysis of the features and capabilities of both AEM and Drupal.

Foundations of CMS

AEM (Adobe Experience Manager) is a robust CMS that incorporates content management, digital asset management, and digital experience management features. It offers a wide range of tools and capabilities for creating, managing, and delivering personalized, omnichannel experiences. Drupal, on the other hand, is an open-source CMS known for its flexibility and extensibility. It provides a solid foundation for building websites, applications, and digital experiences that can handle large amounts of content and traffic.

Both AEM and Drupal are built on strong foundations, but they differ in their approaches. AEM emphasizes enterprise-level capabilities and integration with other Adobe products, making it a preferred choice for organizations with complex digital ecosystems. Drupal, being open-source, offers more flexibility and a vibrant developer community that constantly contributes to its ecosystem.

Design & User Experience

When it comes to design and user experience, both AEM and Drupal offer powerful features. AEM provides a rich visual editing interface with drag-and-drop capabilities, allowing non-technical users to create and update content easily. It also offers built-in responsive design capabilities, ensuring that websites look great on all devices.

Drupal, known for its theming capabilities, provides a wide range of ready-to-use themes and templates. It also allows customization down to the finest details, giving developers complete control over the design. Drupal is highly flexible and can be tailored to meet specific design requirements.

In terms of user experience, AEM's visual editing interface and seamless integration with other Adobe products provide a cohesive experience for content creators. Drupal offers a clean and intuitive admin interface, making it easy for users to navigate and manage content. Both CMSs prioritize user experience but cater to different needs and skill levels.

Content Management

AEM and Drupal excel in content management, but they approach it from different angles. AEM provides robust content management capabilities, allowing organizations to easily create, edit, and publish content. It offers powerful content workflows, version control, and content reuse capabilities, making it ideal for large-scale content management.

Drupal, being highly flexible, allows organizations to structure and organize their content in any way they prefer. It provides a rich set of content management features, including content types, taxonomies, and views. Drupal's content management capabilities are well-suited for websites with a hierarchical or complex content structure.

Both AEM and Drupal offer content localization and multilingual capabilities, enabling organizations to deliver content in different languages and cater to global audiences.

Collaboration & User Management

Collaboration and user management features are essential for organizations working with multiple contributors and teams. AEM provides comprehensive collaboration tools, including role-based access control, content approval workflows, and digital asset management. It allows content creators and teams to work together efficiently and streamline their content production processes.

Drupal offers robust user management capabilities, allowing organizations to define granular user roles and permissions. It provides strong user authentication and access control mechanisms, ensuring that only authorized users can access and modify content. Drupal also supports user collaboration through its built-in commenting system and user-contributed content features.

Both AEM and Drupal understand the importance of collaboration and user management, but AEM's focus on enterprise-level features makes it a preferred choice for larger organizations with complex team structures.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance, scalability, and hosting play crucial roles in delivering a reliable and fast website or digital experience. AEM offers enterprise-level caching and optimization features, ensuring optimal performance even under high traffic loads. It also provides built-in scalability options, allowing organizations to handle increasing content demands.

Drupal, known for its scalability, is capable of handling high traffic and large amounts of content. With proper caching and optimization techniques, Drupal-powered websites can achieve excellent performance. Drupal can be hosted on a variety of hosting options, from shared hosting to dedicated servers, making it suitable for organizations of all sizes.

Selecting the right hosting infrastructure, whether for AEM or Drupal, is crucial in achieving optimal performance. Both CMSs can benefit from cloud-based hosting solutions, which provide scalability, flexibility, and reliability.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization, extensions, and ecosystem are important considerations when selecting a CMS. AEM, being a commercial product, offers a wide range of out-of-the-box features and integrations with other Adobe products. It has a robust marketplace, known as Adobe Exchange, where users can access extensions, plugins, and integrations to enhance the functionality of their AEM implementations.

Drupal, as an open-source CMS, has a vibrant and active community that contributes to its vast ecosystem of modules and themes. The Drupal community has developed thousands of modules that extend the core functionalities of Drupal, allowing organizations to customize and enhance their websites or applications. Drupal's extensive ecosystem makes it a flexible and powerful choice for organizations with unique requirements.

Both AEM and Drupal offer customization options and provide APIs for integrating with other systems. AEM's seamless integration with other Adobe products, such as Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target, makes it an attractive choice for organizations already using Adobe's suite of tools. Drupal's flexibility and extensibility make it a popular choice among developers looking to build highly customizable websites or applications.

It is worth mentioning that AEM can have a steeper learning curve compared to Drupal due to its complex architecture and enterprise-level capabilities. However, AEM compensates for this with its comprehensive documentation, training resources, and customer support.

Ultimately, the decision between AEM and Drupal should consider the specific customization and integration requirements of your organization, as well as the expertise and resources available.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

SEO, marketing, and monetization features are crucial for organizations looking to drive traffic, engage users, and generate revenue through their digital channels. AEM offers built-in SEO capabilities, allowing users to optimize their content for search engines. It provides metadata management, URL structure customization, and sitemaps generation. AEM also integrates with Adobe Analytics, enabling organizations to track and analyze their marketing efforts seamlessly.

Drupal, with its extensive module ecosystem, provides a wide range of SEO modules that enhance its SEO capabilities. It offers features such as SEO-friendly URLs, meta tags, and XML sitemap generation. Drupal also integrates with popular marketing automation platforms and provides tools for tracking and measuring marketing campaigns.

In terms of monetization, AEM offers integrated e-commerce capabilities through its integration with Adobe Commerce. This allows organizations to build and manage online stores directly within their AEM implementation. Drupal, though not as robust in terms of built-in e-commerce features, can leverage its extensive module ecosystem to integrate with popular e-commerce platforms such as Magento or Shopify.

Overall, both AEM and Drupal provide reliable SEO and marketing features, with AEM having a slight edge in terms of e-commerce capabilities. The choice between the two will depend on the specific marketing and monetization needs of your organization.

Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are critical considerations when selecting a CMS, especially for organizations dealing with sensitive data or operating in highly regulated industries. AEM, being an enterprise-grade CMS, prioritizes security and provides robust measures to protect websites and digital experiences. It undergoes regular security audits and offers features such as role-based access control, content encryption, and secure content delivery.

Drupal, being open-source, benefits from a large community of developers who actively contribute to identifying and patching security vulnerabilities. Drupal releases security updates regularly to address any potential vulnerabilities that may arise. Additionally, Drupal has a security team dedicated to monitoring and addressing security issues in the CMS core and contributed modules.

Both AEM and Drupal can comply with various regulatory requirements, such as GDPR and HIPAA, through proper configuration and adherence to security best practices. Organizations should ensure that they implement the necessary security measures and regularly update their CMS to stay protected.

In terms of hosting, selecting a secure hosting infrastructure, with proper security protocols and regular backups, is essential for both AEM and Drupal.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Migrating from one CMS to another can be a challenging task. AEM offers migration tools and resources to assist organizations in migrating their content from other CMSs to AEM. It provides documentation and support to ensure a smooth migration process. Additionally, AEM offers various support options, including access to Adobe's customer support, training programs, and a community of experts.

Drupal, being open-source, provides migration tools and resources to assist organizations in migrating from other CMSs to Drupal. The Drupal community offers extensive documentation, forums, and user groups where users can seek assistance during the migration process. Additionally, Drupal has a support team that helps address technical issues and provides guidance.

When it comes to maintenance, AEM requires ongoing updates and patches to ensure optimal performance and security. These updates can be managed through Adobe's maintenance and support programs. Drupal, similar to any other open-source CMS, requires regular updates to its core and contributed modules to address vulnerabilities and improve functionality. The upgrade process for Drupal can be facilitated through the Drupal admin interface.

Organizations considering AEM or Drupal should evaluate their internal resources and expertise to manage the ongoing maintenance and support requirements of the chosen CMS.


Choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) for your organization can have a significant impact on your digital presence and overall success. In this comprehensive comparison guide, we have explored the features and capabilities of two popular CMS options: AEM and Drupal.

AEM, as a robust CMS powered by Adobe, offers enterprise-level capabilities, seamless integration with other Adobe products, and a rich set of features for content management, collaboration, customization, SEO, and marketing. It is a preferred choice for larger organizations with complex digital ecosystems, offering a comprehensive solution for creating and managing personalized, omnichannel experiences.

Drupal, as an open-source CMS, provides extensive flexibility, customization options, and a vibrant community of developers and contributors. It excels in handling large amounts of content, offers robust content management features, and allows for extensive customization and integration options. Drupal is an ideal choice for organizations that prioritize customization and require a CMS that can scale effectively.

Throughout this guide, we have examined the foundations of AEM and Drupal, their design and user experience capabilities, content management features, collaboration and user management, performance and scalability, customization and extensions, SEO and marketing capabilities, security and compliance, as well as migration, support, and maintenance considerations.


Martin Dejnicki
Martin Dejnicki

Martin is a digital product innovator and pioneer who built and optimized his first website back in 1996 when he was 16 years old. Since then, he has helped many companies win in the digital space, including Walmart, IBM, Rogers, Canada Post, TMX Group and TD Securities. Recently, he worked with the Deploi team to build an elegant publishing platform for creative writers and a novel algorithmic trading platform.