by December 1, 2011 0 comments

When it comes to open source CMS platforms, three names don’t need any introduction–Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. Here again, the battle for supremacy is primarily between Drupal and Joomla. So when Dries Buytaert came over to India, it was only natural for us to pose questions about the future of Drupal and how it compares to its arch-rival Joomla as well as other CMS platforms. Presented here are details of the face-to-face interview where we also discussed the RedHat style paid support business model for Drupal called ‘Acquia’.

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What’s the future of Open Source CMS systems?

The web is changing rapidly. I believe only an Open Source solution can keep up with the pace of innovation. Proprietory competitors may have engineering teams of 30, 50 or maybe 200 engineers at max working on the core product, and their roadmap is largely fixed. Contrast that with Drupal which has 13,000 contributing developers from 150+ countries providing over 10,000 add-on modules to enhance functionality and it makes for large scale innovation on a level never previously seen in enterprise software.

What are the differentiating features of Drupal, when compared to other popular open source CMS systems like Joomla!, WordPress etc?

WordPress and Joomla! are both excellent products which have really pushed open source forward on the web. Drupal is used at all levels from tiny non-profits to the White House and New York Stock Exchange, but I think it really differentiates itself from the other systems because it is able to handle the complex requirements and the performance needs of large scale enterprise systems better. Another key differentiator is the Drupal community. Joomla! has a model wherein some add-on developers sell the code they have built. This has created a community of consumers rather that contributors. In Drupal, all the code is free, and companies make money on services and support. By our estimates, the Drupal community is the largest open source project in the world from the perspective of the number of active contributors. Finally, while each system is classified as a CMS or WCM system, it is a little more nuanced. Joomla! has
historically been used in “normal” websites where there are a couple administrators, and visitors to the site are by and large just consuming content, with light social features such as commenting being a bit of an afterthought. Drupal and WordPress on the other hand started as social solutions and the content management features grew from there. WordPress is a great blogging engine, perhaps the best in the world if all you want is a straightforward blog. Drupal can also do blogging well out of the box, but Drupal has become a framework for building many different types of applications on the web and on mobile devices. For instance, Drupal is used for e-commerce, intranets, analytic dashboards, complex editorial workflows and more. So it is not only a CMS, but also a platform developers can use to build many types of rich applications. This makes Drupal more acceptable in the enterprise.

What shall be the exciting new changes in future releases?

The #1 priority for Drupal 8 is mobile. I want Drupal to be the go-to-platform for engaging users on all devices. This not only means HTML5, responsive design and mobile optimized web rendering, but also new web service layers and APIs for building native applications in iOS and Android. You can already do all of this in Drupal 7 via the contributed module (add-on) space, but in Drupal 8 it will become part of the core product. Also expect to see more robust enterprise features in the areas of configuration management and content staging.

What is your strategy for bringing more sites on the Drupal platform?

We have three strategic initiatives for growing Drupal:

1. Engage the community from the bottom-up. This means sponsoring the many spontaneously organized events by local Drupal user groups around the world (Acquia is sponsoring 60 this quarter). Building this network of passionate developers drives innovation, learning and builds the SME market which gives us reach. is a good resource for finding these community groups.

2. Work with our partners to help them market and sell Drupal. Acquia doesn’t build sites, we provide expert support, services and a hosting platform which our partners can use to be successful. So we rely heavily on our partners to win deals and be active in their markets. We assist them in marketing, pre-sales and post-sales activities to ensure their success. We already work with some of the major system integrators in India such as Accenture and Capgemini and will have formal partnerships with nearly all of them in the near future.

3. Raise Drupal awareness. We have webinars happening twice a week. They range from vertical topics such as “Drupal in Government” to technical deep dives and live trainings. Most of them are with partners, and they generally attract between 750 and 1500 viewers. Another good resource for demonstrating Drupal’s power is http://drupalshowcase. com which highlights nearly 2,000 high profile websites organized by verticals and technology.

What are the different products and services offered by Acquia? What major products/services are lined up for future?

Acquia Network: Subscribers to the Network get a rich collection of value-added tools – hosted in the cloud – which aid them in succeeding with Drupal. A few examples include realtime performance monitoring, enterprise search, a library of training videos, automated website optimization and mobile device enhancement.

Acquia Support: Since Drupal carries no license fees, we make our money by helping clients be successful with Drupal. And part of that is 24×7 SLA backed support. Our support team is staffed with Drupal experts who fanatically support our customers and/or delivery partners with every phase of their website build and maintenance.

Managed Cloud: Three years in the making, our Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering is the premier cloud-based hosting environment for Drupal. We combine elastic (scalable) hosting from Amazon Web Service’s EC2 with best practices in Drupal system architecture and a 24×7 operations team to provide an end-to-end solution for hosting Drupal sites.

DevCloud: It is the same performance platform as a managed cloud, but a little more self-service based. It is meant for simpler sites or sites without the same high availability requirements as Managed Cloud. We target DevCloud at the SME market.

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Professional Services: Acquia does not build websites. We make our partners who are building websites successful. Part of this is providing high level consulting in niche areas such as IT strategy, architecture, security, migrations and training.

Drupal Commons: Drupal Commons is a social business platform built on top of Drupal which enables both intranet type functionality and interactions outside of the firewall with customers, partners and collaborators. Recent examples of Drupal Commons implementations include http://dev. and http://X. com which are Twitter and PayPal/Ebay’s developer platforms.

Drupal Gardens: Drupal Gardens is our Software as a Service platform which allows users to sign up for free and get their own Drupal site in our cloud. Drupal Gardens harnesses the power of Drupal along with best practices and templates for different types of sites (Campaigns, Blogs, Products, etc) to get you from design to online in 15 minutes. 70,000 sites have been built on Drupal Gardens to date.

Training: The primary limiter of growth right now is the lack of qualified Drupal talent both in India and abroad. To tackle this, Acquia builds curriculum and provides it through our verified training partners who deliver it to customers and implementers. We currently have 3 training partners in India – Srijan in NCR, Cignex in Ahmedabad / Mumbai and Azri in Hyderabad.

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