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Drupal Creator Forms Company

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 There is now a VC-backed commercial company, underwritten initially to the tune of $7 million, to run interference for the LAMP-based Drupal open source project and take on the literally hundreds of other content management systems – open source and proprietary – that currently litter the landscape to make sure that Drupal is crowned homecoming queen, perhaps the next billion-dollar MySQL.

While Drupal has garnered surprising little press it’s got to be one of the more successful open source projects out there, but then its nearest open source rival Joomla looks to be as popular. Evidently CMS is the place to be these days.

Somewhere between 350,000 and a million sites use Drupal. Dries Buytaert, the guy who started Drupal and is still working on his PhD, reportedly wearied and stopped counting recently when he hit 350,000 on Alexa.

The number includes recognizable faces like Forbes, Amnesty International, The Onion, MTV.co.uk, The Industry Standard, Spread Firefox!, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Fast Company.com, Harvard Science, the Grateful Dead and Dzone.

Drupal code has reportedly been downloaded two million times. There are 240,000 members of Drupal.org and 900 contributors to the latest Drupal 6 rev, twice what its predecessor had, resulting in 1,800 extension modules to the base platform.

So Drupal’s new commercializer, which wants Drupal to be “the Linux of the web,” has something to work with, although the existing Drupal consultants might feel a bit impinged on.

The name of this entity, established late last year, is Acquia, which – in the current fashion of naming things in obscure tongues – is Navaho for locate, which is a bit closer to Drupal’s essence than drupal, which is Flemish for drop of water.

Anyway, Acquia (say Ack’-key-a), which includes Dries, who owns the Drupal trademark, on its team, is now sketching out its plans. First off, it’s decided on a shotgun approach. Co-founder and CEO Jay Batson says it can’t distinguish between web CMS. social media software and web app framework so it’s rolled them all up into a wad it’s calling social publishing and calling that its target market.

Later this year, in the second half, Acquia will deliver a commercially supported Drupal distribution code named Carbon and value-added network services. Although the Drupal project will soldier on Acquia wants the Drupal community to contribute to the new Acquia Projects.

It’s promising that the Drupal 6-based Carbon will have fully integrated and tested building blocks for user management, web content management, single- or multi-user blogs, wiki collaboration, discussion forums, user-generated content and social networking.

There's also supposed to be a packaged installer – Drupal is popular despite its difficulties – and commercial-grade documentation.

Acquia-developed code is supposed to be licensed, like Drupal itself, under GPL v2 and Acquia says it will merge new features and patches into the main Drupal line through the established community process.

Acquia has yet to price its maintenance and support subscriptions – there should be a variety of SLAs – but they’re supposed to include an electronic update notification system code named Spokes for updates that have been reviewed for security and compatibility and are supported by Acquia

Acquia is currently at 12 people, expecting to be 25 by the end of the year. Its Series A money comes from Northbridge Venture Partners, Sigma Partners and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures.

According to Dries’ blog, Drupal 7 should offer the ability to create, share and mashup managed content, letting Drupal be a data repository accessed by tools and web sites across the network.

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