DrupalCon San Francisco didn't even start, and already we have a first announcement to make! If you follow the Acquia blog, you might have read that we've begun building a free Drupal distribution, named "Drupal Commons", to go after social business software such as Jive Software. Drupal Commons will integrate groups, discussion forums, blogs, wikis, events into a single packaged solution. If you need a communication or collaboration website, or a corporate social network, Drupal Commons might be for you.
Over the last few months, I talked to a lot of Drupal users, customers and Drupal development shops, and it is clear that many of them need a distribution like Drupal Commons, but that the lack of a prepackaged solution was holding them back. Enterprise users weren't 100% sure Drupal could do what they needed it to do and had trouble convincing their boss about Drupal, and Drupal development shops and system integrators struggled convincing their customers without spending weeks building a functional prototype. In some cases, Drupal is too much of a framework.
We've only started working on Drupal Commons a few weeks ago, so we obviously have a long way to go. However, we've put together a little demo video of what we have today to give you a sense of what direction we're heading in. As soon we have a base version working, we'll share it on drupal.org under terms of the GPL like any other Drupal distribution. We hope others will join us in helping to build Drupal Commons.
Drupal Commons is also a good response to some of the FUD that Jive Software has been spreading about Open Source software, and Drupal in particular. The screenshot below, taken from a Jive Software whitepaper, shows how they position themselves against Drupal, and how they justify charging million dollar license fees to their customers. I don't know about you, but we'd love to show how Drupal can run circles around Jive SBS for a lot less money.
A screenshot from Jive Software's whitepaper called: "The unique advantage of Jive Social Business Software over Open Source Software".
Last but not least, I've been supporting and championing distributions since 2006, and I still firmly believe Drupal distributions will be critical to Drupal's success. Without Drupal distributions, we won't be able to successfully compete with commercial vendors. Drupal distributions have great potential, but we have to do them right, and we have to figure out how to make them sustainable. By building a distribution ourselves, I hope to learn a lot, both on the technical side and on the business side. We already have a number of ideas, and will be announcing some of these shortly. Stay tuned!
Jay just posted a blog post, called Building enterprise social communities with Drupal, sharing a white paper that we have written at Acquia. In this white paper, we answer questions like: what kind of social features Drupal supplies, why Drupal is the best choice for building a social site, what Drupal modules are useful when building a social site, and some examples of successful enterprise Drupal communities.
The reason we wrote this white paper is simple: many of the enterprise organizations that we talk to ask us these questions over and over again. Building social business sites is a very hot topic in the enterprise. The work environment in these organizations is evolving, and increasingly more, people want to connect, create, share and find people and information relevant to their work. Needless to say, not all social business sites are equal -- some are team collaboration sites, some are community sites, and others might be networking sites. They can exist behind the firewall for internal teams, or they can be external facing sites to engage with partners and customers.
We wrote this white paper because we wanted to demonstrate that Drupal provides a great platform to build these kind of social sites for the enterprise. If you are interested in building a social site for your enterprise and don't know where to start, have a look at our white paper. Also, if you've built, or have a Drupal site around which you have built a successful community, we'd love to learn about it, and learn from it.
And the answer to yesterday's "Eye grow Drupal" question is: Druplipets. Hundreds of cute little Druplipets, your friendly Druplicon chia pet. Druplipet is the newest member of the Acquia and Drupal Gardens family and will be making appearances at industry events this year. It is making its first appearance at SXSW along with a fun contest. Needless to say, Drupal chia pets are fun and powerful stuff!
In a couple of weeks, I'll participate in a panel discussion on The Future of Open Source in Business. In preparation for that discussion, I figured I'd write down my current thoughts and solicit some feedback. I'll talk about two important trends relevant for the future of Open Source, but there are certainly more.
First, Open Source adoption in the enterprise is trending at an incredible rate -- Drupal adoption has grown a lot in 2009 but we saw by far the biggest relative growth in the enterprise. Fueling this movement is the notion that Open Source options present an innovative, economically friendly and more secure alternative to their costly proprietary counterparts. Second, Cloud Computing is a transformational movement in that it enables continual innovation and updating - not to mention a highly expandable infrastructure that will reduce the burden on your IT team.
Two years ago, when starting Acquia, we predicted this would happen so it is no surprise that Acquia's strategy is closely aligned with those two trends: Drupal Gardens, Acquia Hosting and Acquia Search are all built on Open Source tools and delivered as Software as a Service in the cloud. Combining Open Source tools and Cloud Computing makes for the perfect storm for success. It provides real value to end-users and it enables companies to monetize Open Source. It creates a win-win situation.
At the same time, I think we have an opportunity to go beyond that, and to redefine the Software as a Service model based on Open Source values, almost exactly like we started doing 10+ years ago with off-the-shelf software. Almost all Software as a Service providers employ a proprietary model -- they might allow you to export your data, but they usually don't allow you to export their underlying code. While a lot of these services might be built on Open Source components, they have a lot more in common with proprietary software vendors than Open Source projects or companies.
There is room for Open Source companies to disrupt this model, and it is probably not something that can be done without the help of Open Source companies. Drupal Gardens provides a good example of this model.
For example, users of Drupal Gardens can help improve Drupal Gardens, simply by contributing to Drupal. By staying close to the Open Source project, everyone can help shape the service. Along the same lines, we want people to be able to export their Drupal Gardens site -- the code, the theme and data -- and move of the platform to any Drupal hosting environment. By doing so, we provide people an easy on-ramp but we allow them to grow beyond the capabilities of Drupal Gardens without locking them in.
It is "Open SaaS" or Software as a Service done right -- it will offer enterprises a much more secure and low-cost alternative to proprietary counterparts and provides many Open Source projects the opportunity to have a much bigger reach. It creates a triple win scenario -- for the customer, for the Open Source project and the Open Source company -- in a way that wasn't really apparent five years ago. At least not to me.
Have you taken the 2010 Future of Open Source Survey yet? If not, please take a few moments to share your thoughts on where you think Open Source is headed.