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People wonder what we do at Acquia's Office of the CTO (OCTO). In order to provide some more transparency, I wanted to share how we plan to give back between today and the end of the year.
Drupal 8 beta 1
Now that we're forgoing an upgrade path for a migration path, we need to redefine the release criteria for 'beta 1'. We also need to track the issues that block beta in order to help escalate the most critical of the critical issues. We will work with the Drupal 8 core maintainers to define and communicate these criteria, and help with timely patch reviews and issue management for beta-blocking issues.
Migrate module in core
As a co-author of the Migrate module, Moshe will be assisting the core development team on the goal to get Migrate module functionality into core and support a Drupal 6 to Drupal 8, as well as the Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 migration path.
Improve the Drupal 8 developer experience
We want developers to be productive and enjoy writing Drupal 8 modules, so we will be fleshing out the D8DX battleplan based on discussions at DrupalCon Prague, and working with others in the Drupal community to ensure that we fix the most important developer experience problems in preparation of Drupal 8's release.
Develop learning resources
We will be working on a central resource on Drupal.org for developers to find the information they need in order to port their modules to Drupal 8, including documentation, tools, and other resources.
Evaluate semantic versioning
There was a lot of talk at DrupalCon Prague about lessons learned in Drupal 7 and 8 and how to do better in the future. One such area of improvement is a release strategy that allows for iterative innovation in Drupal core every few months. We plan to work with other community leaders and the Drupal security team in order to come up with a strategy around this. A component of this strategy may be to adopt semantic versioning.
Improve Drupal 8 performance
We will also dedicate the OCTO team's time to help the Drupal core community identify and fix some major performance issues in Drupal core.
Authoring experience improvements
Major development efforts on the UX features the Spark team helped get into Drupal 8 core—WYSIWYG, in-place editing, mobile-friendly toolbar —are winding down. We still have work to do on fixing up some loose ends, and are committed to see this through. We will also backport the major Spark modules to Drupal 7.
Communicate Drupal 8 progress
We aim to continue the weekly D8 progress reports that you can find at This Week In Core, and are actively seeking other core developers to help get these important posts out.
A drop in an ocean
We're a handful of contributors in the OCTO and can only do so much. We will continue doing these things within a community of hundreds of other contributors and supporting their work in other ways. We're looking forward to much Drupal 8 progress in the next 3 months!
I'm excited to announce that Acquia is launching Acquia Cloud Free, a no-cost development sandbox for Drupal development. While Acquia has always had a freemium offer for development purposes, it had an expiration date, and it required a credit card. We've changed that with Acquia Cloud Free. Acquia Cloud Free comes packed with great tools including, but not limited to:
- A free development sandbox on Acquia Cloud with development and staging environments, Drush integration, Git repository and more. (The sandbox can't be used to run production sites.)
- Drupal development workflow tools that allow you to deploy code between dev and staging environments, replicate files, make backups and more.
- Acquia Insight which will scan your site for security problems, performance improvements and general Drupal best practices. Every day, we run thousands of tests on your site. Our team keeps adding new tests based on what they learn every day.
- Acquia Search which supercharges your site's search capabilities with more accurate search results, faceted navigation, search analytics and more.
We've put a lot of thought and effort into creating the Acquia Cloud platform and continue to invest it in heavily. As a result, we have seen tremendous adoption. I believe that giving everyone access to a free Acquia Cloud development sandbox is one way we can give back and help grow Drupal. Give it a try if you want!
The blog post below was a guest article I wrote for Inc Magazine and was published in September 2013. It has been a while since I shared a startup lesson on my personal blog so I'm cross-posting my article here.
When I started working on Drupal in my college dormitory 12 years ago, I had no idea that one day it would be used by 2 percent of the world's websites. What is even more exciting is the open source community that has grown up around Drupal.
I co-founded Acquia six years ago to support the growing number of organizations that rely on Drupal, and also co-founded Mollom to solve the spam moderation challenges for website owners. Six years later, Mollom was acquired, and Acquia has almost 400 employees. As I've encountered challenges every step of the way. Here are three lessons learned.
1. Think big
So often I meet entrepreneurs who are working on a startup concept. They have a great idea and a business plan to bring it to market, but they're thinking too small about what they're trying to do.
I believe companies are most successful when they have a mission to change the world. When you set ambitious goals, you'll better position yourself for success. You become what you believe.
Being shortsighted can be a big barrier to success, because you can easily miss the window to capitalize on an opportunity. It's why I founded Acquia in the United States; I immediately had access to a larger market. We moved quickly to be a global company to maximize our opportunity, and it's made all the difference.
2. Fail fast
"Fail fast, succeed faster" is a philosophy that's been adopted across the company at Acquia. It's perhaps counter intuitive, but the idea is that in building a startup, you're going to fail. There will be problems, and the faster you run into them, the faster you can learn, adjust, and grow.
Implied in the fail-fast philosophy is that you'll be open to failure, and that can be hard for entrepreneurs who are so focused on success. People don't like to fail, so they're not inclined to celebrate their failures and embrace the lessons learned. Yet doing so means you'll more quickly make the needed – and often painful – adjustments to get on the right path faster.
In the initial business plan for Acquia, we expected to support a specific distribution of Drupal that we'd closely manage. Early prospects told us repeatedly it was a great strategy, yet when we took our offer to market, the buyers weren't there. We realized very fast that our business plan needed a big change, that we needed to support Drupal in whole. It was a terrifying proposition at that stage of our business, but we realized that was what the market needed most. We made the change, and it quickly put us on a successful course.
3. Passion makes the difference
I think some people get inspired to launch a startup because of its potential rewards, but launching a successful business starts with having a passion to solve a problem. I was passionate about building websites; it was my biggest hobby before it was ever a business opportunity.
When we started Acquia, our lead investor told me the key to a successful startup isn't in a good idea, but rather is in having a good team. A good team will figure out how to make something great happen. They'll pivot, they'll change, and they'll claw their way to success. Find talented people who share your passion, and together you'll find your way toward building a great business.
Many organizations have long had the need to maintain multiple websites as part of their digital marketing and enablement efforts. But when the number of sites tallied across different products and services, geographic regions, departments, and clients for just a single organization grows into the hundreds or thousands, it's easy to see why managing all of these sites with agility, velocity and freedom has long been elusive.
Last week, Acquia announced the availability of the "Acquia Cloud Site Factory". I wanted to give a bit more background on this new product and possibly discuss it in the comments.
The Acquia Cloud Site Factory is a platform that provides users with a feature rich Drupal site-building environment and powerful multisite management tools on top of the Acquia Cloud platform. It was built to help corporations, agencies, educational institutions and government agencies to build, deploy and manage hundreds or thousands of Drupal websites at scale.
Acquia Cloud Site Factory is the result what we learned from delivering Drupal Gardens as a solution to large enterprises. Many of our customers benefit from Drupal Gardens as a multisite management platform. However, other customers ran into limitations with Drupal Gardens, namely the inability for developers to add modules, and could not experience the full freedom of Drupal. Based on our customers’ guidance and our own experiences, we built the new Acquia Cloud Site Factory to give organizations access to the full capabilities of Drupal, including custom modules.
Cloud Site Factory is available in three flavors so customers can choose the level of service that best meets their needs:
- Pure Software as a Service (SaaS): This is an out-of-the-box Drupal experience for customers who don’t want to manage anything other than their site content. Acquia manages and maintains the Drupal and Site Factory tools, and guarantees the service level agreement, or SLA, for all sites delivered through the platform.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): With the Platform-as-a-Service tier, customers gain the ability to customize the Site Factory Drupal codebase with any contrib or custom module and manage the deployment of their codebase through a multisite oriented continuous integration workflow. This approach is perfect for those users needing the flexibility and freedom to truly customize their Drupal experience through self-service tools. Acquia maintains the starting codebase, the Site Factory tools and the Acquia Cloud hosting platform so customers can focus on building their code and their sites.
- SaaS+: For customers seeking the best of both worlds, we offer a hybrid service tier allowing Acquia Professional Services to certify contrib or custom modules on your behalf for deployment to your Site Factory codebase. Once modules are certified, they are available to you through the SaaS experience.
Acquia Cloud Site Factory has been architected to manage tens, hundreds, and even thousands of sites. For example, it currently is managing updates for tens of thousands of sites on DrupalGardens.com.
It's been a while since I wrote about Acquia Cloud so I wanted to give you a quick update. Acquia Cloud has experienced incredible growth so far in 2013. We recently crossed a milestone that I'm proud to share; we’re now running over 6,000 cloud instances on behalf of our customers in six Amazon regions stretching across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. These instances are used to run a wide variety of Drupal sites; from e-commerce to collaboration to marketing sites, and more.
All that capacity served over 18 billion requests in May, with many more requests served via our CDN partnerships. Compared to last year, Acquia Cloud's traffic is up 200%. We also served over 232 terabytes of data in May. This astounding growth solidifies the scalability of Acquia Cloud. And it's only going to grow faster as Acquia is signing up larger websites.
A couple of weeks ago Acquia, the Red Hat of Drupal, reached out to fellow CMS founder, Matt Mullenweg of WordPress, to see if he would consider switching to Drupal. As luck would have it, this was enticing to Matt. He has long understood the value of the Drupal community and has been looking for ways to leverage our community to make WordPress even better. When Acquia suggested switching to Drupal, it dawned on Matt that this was certainly the easiest way to integrate with Drupal without irritating his webmaster.
"I have always wanted to be part of the Drupal community, where technical expertise is sought after to create some of the most advanced websites. This move demonstrates the synergy between WordPress and Drupal without the possibility of function name conflicts." - Matt Mullenweg
Several months ago I started working with some of our top developers to try to come up with a practical integration strategy between Drupal and WordPress. We had been struggling with this for some time when webchick said jokingly: "It would be a lot easier if they would just use Drupal instead".
To be honest, I felt a bit silly even talking to Matt about using Drupal, but I didn't know at the time that he had been struggling with exactly the same goal and the same problems. webchick's inadvertent idea has ushered in new possibilities for innovation and frankly this is such a fundamental change for us I can't even imagine the world as it was before.
I am very excited about this collaboration. WordPress and Drupal form a killer combination that can't be beat in today's CMS market. I can hardly wait for the WordPress developers to get their drupal.org accounts set up, so we can work together in ways that were never possible before. I also suggested xjm to setup extra "WordPress tables" at the DrupalCon Portland code sprint.
A new Drupal module has been created to ease the transition. The "WordPress_iframe" module will be available on drupal.org soon. It facilitates a rapid integration of existing WordPress sites into their Drupal counterparts. We are excited about the debut of this new module because it embodies the Drupal community's open acceptance of this partnership while it allows us to roll out literally millions of these new Drupal/WordPress sites over the coming weeks.
As part of the agreement, Matt didn't want to completely move away from the WordPress branding, so we have incorporated it into Acquia's logo. Phonetically Acquia is pronounced ah-kwee-uh, so we've swapped out our Q for the well-known WordPress "W". The name is still pronounced "ah-kwee-uh" but will now be spelled "Acwuia". This visually puts WordPress right in the center of our logo - exactly where it belongs. This is WordPress, powered by Drupal.
We are very proud of this partnership and look forward to serving many more customers as a result. You can expect many more great things from Acwuia coming soon.
Matt, your Red Press of Drupal t-shirt is on the way. Let's stand together as brothers, united in Drupal!
Last week it was Red Nose Day, a UK-wide fundraising event organized by Comic Relief every two years. A combination of television programs, local community events, social media and Drupal websites were used to raise £75 million ($113 million) in one day. On Red Nose Day everyone is encouraged to cast inhibitions aside, put on a Red Nose and do something funny for money. The money is used to make a difference to the lives of countless people across Africa and the UK who are facing terrible injustice or living in desperate poverty.
Rednoseday.com and Comicrelief.com are built in Drupal and the Acquia team have been supporting their talented web team with Drupal expertise and use of the Acquia Cloud to ensure a stable and massively scalable platform.
During the live show there were massive peaks in website traffic and every hour there were special heartfelt appeals within the program which results in a frenzy of donations. To deal with the sudden, massive spikes (they call them 'slams'), we had to employ 24 load balancers, 28 web heads and 2 database servers. We had an additional 12 load balancers and 2 web nodes ready for failover. This happens so quickly that it would not give you enough time to spin up additional servers once the traffic starts to ramp up. Along with the hardware, Acquia had 11 people helping with the infrastructure the night of the event.
As you can imagine, there is nothing like a live, six-hour televised national charity event where millions of dollars are at risk, to put fear into the hearts of any web team. To be able to do help inspiring charities such as Comic Relief gives the entire Acquia team an exceptional sense of accomplishment. I am very proud of their dedication and commitment to this project.
In fact, we've been doing our bit with some Harlem Shake videos from both our Reading (UK) and Burlington (US) offices to raise donations. It's not too late to help this tremendously worthwhile and life changing cause: https://www.rednoseday.com/donate.