I wrote recently about the advantages and disadvantages of the PHP programming language in a couple of blogs. In the former piece, I suggested that the many popular Web-based applications built on PHP could be of value to the SMB.
Today, I want to specifically introduce the idea of tapping into the popular WordPress platform and leveraging it as an internal communication tool. But isn't WordPress a blogging tool better known for its popularity with individual bloggers around the globe? While that might be true, there is nothing preventing it from being used as a communication medium in the intranet of a small or medium-sized business.
Seriously, why plonk down a four or five-figure sum for a sophisticated portal if you only require a few of its collaboration features?
Unorthodox as it might seem, here are a few reasons why it can work:
- WordPress is free. That's one less item on the budget to wrestle with the management over.
- You can find plug-ins for virtually every task, ranging from a caching engine for greater speed, a full-fledged image gallery, software to setup polls , and even an Atom/RSS aggregation utility to culling data from related sites. Seriously, just about any feature that you can think of can probably be found at the WordPress plugin directory in some form or other.
- It has inherent support for users and a few basic groups. In fact, you can even integrate it with your Active Directory with this Active Directory Integration plug-in.
- It runs off MySQL, an open source database.
- It is relatively lightweight lein terms of processor, RAM and hard disk usage.
- For better business continuity protection or for greater security, you can install WordPress into a virtual machine running on Linux -- still free.
- It runs on PHP. Whatever additional functionality you require can be created. A few years ago, I actually managed to integrate the output from a Crystal Reports server into another PHP-based blogging engine.
Perhaps best of all is the fact that you don't have to waste time tinkering with a UI, or reinvent the wheel rewriting core functionalities, as is often the case for intranet portals created from scratch. Practically every widget in WordPress can be rearranged, and the less artistic or inclined to dabble can just download the many templates freely available on the Internet.
Alternatively, with skills in CSS and some knowledge of WordPress, it is also possible to layer your own site on top of the blog engine. In fact, I know of at least one site with high traffic that used WordPress in the way I just described! So free your mind of bias and simply concentrate on the possibilities.
Feel free to chip in with your comments.