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You might remember that a while ago, Drupal was promoted to the 'Visionaries' category in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace. For someone unfamiliar with all the social software vendors and projects, the choice can be overwhelming and Gartner's reports can carry a lot of weight in the decision making process. Drupal's promotion to the 'Visionaries' category was a big win for all of us.
The social software market is evolving fast, and in response Gartner is working on a presentation that compares all of the different social software players in the enterprise market, including open-source projects like Drupal. As part of that process, Acquia was invited to review the presentation and provide comments about the social software landscape and Drupal's success stories. These success stories are important to help Gartner position Drupal against its many competitors. We will also be having a followup meeting with Gartner for further discussion.
Gartner considers three different use cases for social software: (i) team collaboration software, (ii) community software and (iii) networking software. Each of these scenarios have different requirements and emphasize different features of social software. User profiles and group support seems to carry a lot of weight in their evaluations. In addition, for each of these use cases, Gartner considers two different deployment scenarios: (a) sites inside the workplace and (b) externally facing websites. This effectively creates a 3x2 matrix or grid.
To help prepare for our meeting with Gartner, and to help further Drupal's competitive positioning in the enterprise we're looking for good examples in each of those categories. Good suggestions? Post them in the comments of this blog post. Remember that Gartner is focused on the enterprise, so we're looking for examples in the enterprise that carry a lot of weight. Thanks for your help!
I have a pretty big update for you: we just launched Drupal Gardens into private beta. Since the first public Drupal Gardens demo at DrupalCon Paris, a lot of progress has been made. Today, we sent private beta invites to the first people that signed up to be beta testers, and if things go well, we'll send out a couple thousand more invitations over the next few weeks.
For those who received an invite, building Drupal sites just got easier. Drupal Gardens is a hosted version of Drupal so you don't have to worry about installation, hosting or upgrading. Think of it as Wordpress.com or Ning, except that it comes with the power of Drupal. Equipped with multi-user blogging, commenting, forums, custom content types, and advanced user management, Drupal Gardens should be a great tool for organizations that want to build social sites. For those of you who would like to also test drive Drupal Gardens, you can sign up to request a beta on drupalgardens.com and we'll be releasing more registration codes during the next few months of beta testing. We'll run in private beta for a bit and then open up to a public beta as we get closer to a final launch in early spring.
At Acquia, one of our goals has always been to help spread the adoption of Drupal. Hence, we have decided to make Drupal Gardens available for free until the end of 2010. By the end of 2010 we hope to have built all of the important features that will enable organizations to create feature-rich, social microsites. Our current thinking is that after 2010, there will continue to be a free tier for smaller sites but that there will also be paid tiers for larger websites or those who want access to premium features. There is a lot of work ahead of us and we need your help in the Gardens deciding what to plant, what to water and what to weed. We (at Acquia) can't wait to hear what you've got to say!
From a technical point of view, I'd like to point out this is a "real" beta launch. Drupal Gardens is a gem in the rough, built on the Drupal 7 core - currently in an alpha release - extended with functionality such as a WYSIWYG editor (CKeditor), media management, a theme builder, and basic "query builder" (i.e. simpleviews) capability. We're working with the various module maintainers, and contributing back almost all of our development efforts to the Drupal community.
Architecturally, Drupal Gardens is built on the ideas of an open social web; we markup data with RDFa, we implemented single-sign on using OpenID as our identity layer, we integrate with third-party services, and we allow people to export the code, the theme and data that makes up their site. We'll be sharing more technical details as we make progress, but we like to believe it will be a hosted service "done right".
I'd like to thank our alpha testers who have provided us some great feedback so far, the team at Acquia for working hard to get to private beta, and for the community for all the work on Drupal 7. I look forward to more people having the chance to test out Drupal Gardens and seeing what grows!
NVidia recently launched their new Tegra developer community on Drupal. See http://developer.nvidia.com/tegra. The announcement of the latest Tegra 2 chipset was one of the major news items at CES earlier this month. The Tegra 2 chipset incorporates 8 independent processors to handle web browsing, HD video encoding/decoding as well as mobile gaming, all with very low power consumption. It is perfect for tablets ...
NVidia came to Acquia to help them get the site built. Development was done by Chapter Three (an Acquia partner) and Wiredcraft, while Acquia hosts the site on the Acquia Hosting platform and provides 24x7 monitoring and support. They are also using Mollom to protect their site against spammers.
Red Hat just launched OpenSource.com on Drupal. The site will focus on exploring what happens when the open source way is applied to the world, beyond technology. The site has 5 main channels: business, education, government, law, and life. In each channel, they'll explore how open source is having an impact on each of those areas. The content is meant to be very conversational and participatory, making Drupal a natural choice. Needless to say, it is great to see Drupal being used to promote Open Source way beyond technology. It is also rewarding to see Red Hat, the mother of all Open Source companies, using Drupal.
Yesterday I shared my 2009 retrospective on Drupal along with some predictions for 2010. Today, I want to reflect on Acquia's 2009, as for obvious reasons, Acquia has been a big part of my life in 2009.
At the end of 2007, we had convinced ourselves -- and our investors -- that there was a market for Drupal support and Drupal-related products. In 2008, we built a great team and grew from two employees early in the year to thirty people by the end of 2008. After nine months, in October 2008, we finally opened our doors for business and we wrapped up the year with a couple dozen customers. 2009 was really Acquia's first year in business (i.e. revenue-bearing year), making it a very important year for us as a company. Other than delivering great support, we had to demonstrate that there was a market for Drupal support, and prove our business model by discovering many of the unknowns and validating our assumptions (e.g., average sales cycle, conversion rates, operational costs, etc). 2009 was also the year that we had to build a sales and marketing process that is both scalable and efficient.
We kicked of 2009 with a big but important change. When we opened for business at the end of 2008, customers could purchase commercial support for all the modules in Acquia Drupal, our free distribution of Drupal. We learned relatively fast that people wanted support for more than just Acquia Drupal. So, only a couple of months later, in the first week of January 2009, we announced our support for all things Drupal 6, including all modules and themes available on drupal.org as well as custom code.
Next, at a two-day management meeting early in the year, we established some very ambitious goals and shared the details publicly in our 2009 roadmap. With all these new projects, we needed additional management bandwidth in the company so Jay and I hired Tom Erickson as Acquia's new CEO. This has been one of our best decisions to date, as Tom has proven to be phenomenal at his job.
To deliver on the vision outlined in our roadmap, we had to raise more money -- no small thing given the downturn in the economy. Instead of reserving cash, Tom and I went out and raised an additional $8 million dollars in Series B funding, bringing our total funding to date to $15 million USD.
A Series B financing typically happens when the company has proven its core value proposition, has demonstrated its ability to find customers, and has proven its business model. In the first six months of 2009, we grew our customer base to 250 paying customers -- demonstrating the market for Drupal support, validating our business model, and allowing us to raise that Series B funding.
We used part of the new funding to accelerate our support business and grew it to more than 400 customers by the end of 2009. We handled thousands of support requests last year. The size and type of business also grew throughout 2009 -- 2009 was definitely a turning point for enterprise Drupal adoption.
The rest of the new funding was used to build the new products outlined in our 2009 roadmap, including Acquia Hosting, Acquia Search, various Acquia Stack Installers and Drupal Gardens (currently in private alpha). We helped get the Acquia Stack Installers included in Ubuntu, Solaris, and on Microsoft's Web Gallery. Our Windows version was one of the top downloads on the Microsoft Web Gallery.
We also helped Whitehouse.gov to move to Drupal -- an important turning point for Drupal within the government sector.
As a company, we contributed back to the Drupal community by funding much of the usability work carried out by Mark Boulton, by helping with developing the Field API for core, by providing manpower and funding for some of the drupal.org redesign work, by helping with the drupal.org test infrastructure, by contributing to Drupal's Apache Solr integration, by sponsoring local and global Drupal events, by giving away free hosting, and much much more. In short, we tried to help where (I believe) Drupal needed help the most.
For a small company of our size, we had a lot of balls in the air, but we learned to juggle well. Most companies don't share their roadmaps but we did, we stuck with it, and we delivered. I'm proud of Acquia for what we did in 2009 -- it has been a great year.
As for 2010? The launch of Drupal Gardens will be a big blip on our 2010 radar. Later in January, we have another two-day management meeting to finalize our roadmap for 2010. Keep an eye on acquia.com or on my blog if you want to learn more about our plans. A lot of what we'll do will resolve around extending and improving our existing products in support of our customers, but we'll probably launch a few surprises as well. Stay tuned!
Update: Tom posted his perspective on 2009 on the Acquia blog. Good that we're on the same page. :-)