Acquia Coverage

Drupal: How a dorm room tech project became a global phenomenon [Feb 15, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
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Tech Republic

While open source content management system Drupal now underpins a huge number of websites around the world, it was created, according to its founder Dries Buytaert, “sort of by accident”.

The software which now powers 7.2 million websites – including sites for the White House, Whitehall, Nasa and Greenpeace, was devised in a college dorm room in Antwerp, Belgium in 2000.

”All I wanted to do back then was create a message board so I could share messages with the other people in my dorm,” said Buytaert.

Rather than use an existing message board system Buytaert decided to build one himself using the then relatively new technologies of PHP and MySQL.

”I figured that I would spend a few nights building my own so I could learn these technologies, so that’s effectively what I did, although I ended up working on this for 12 more years,” he said.

That’s because Buytaert didn’t stop at building a message board, but instead started moulding Drupal into a more sophisticated offering.

”I got hooked on the web and I started watching a lot of new trends and adding these to my message board. For example, RSS feeds were just being defined back then and I was one of the first people to implement RSS feeds. Another is I saw public diaries becoming a phenomenon, so I added a feature so that people could maintain a public diary. The phenomenon became blogging,” he told TechRepublic.

”Eventually what happened was that little message board that was an experimental platform to play with MySQL and PHP evolved into an experimental platform to explore different types of emerging web technologies.”

Upon leaving university Buytaert took the decision to make his message board publicly available via the internet, so that he and his friends could stay in touch.

After going public the board attracted an audience interested in the emerging web technologies that Buytaert was building into the site, and who would suggest additions and tweaks to the CMS.

”I said ‘Instead of me implementing all of your suggestions why don’t I make it available as open source and you can use it as your own experimental platform’. I spent 30 seconds thinking about a name and uploaded to my site expecting maybe a dozen people to download and use it.”

But the community of Drupal developers didn’t stop at a dozen, and as the user base grew so did the size of organisations relying on the software: the point Buytaert realised Drupal had transcended its hobbyist origins was when he received a call to say that Nasa had begun using the CMS platform.

”It was a wake-up call, this realisation that there was this serious organisation using Drupal. I felt it was for real now because, these organisations have an important goal and are using my software to fulfil their mission.”

The importance of open source

For Buytaert, Drupal owes much of its success to being open source, which has allowed thousands of developers to produce plug-ins that extend the abilities of the platform.

Drupal has some 15,000 plug-ins, known as modules, that extend its functionality and is sometimes described as a “no-coding” platform, a reference to the fact that the skill in using Drupal lies with knowing which module to choose to deliver a feature, rather than always programming a module yourself.

While Drupal’s community of developers help keep the platform up to date with the latest technologies – a Google Plus module was available within 12 hours of the social network being released – Buytaert says that the breadth of plug-ins can be confusing without guidance.

”It’s very difficult for customers to figure out which of these modules they should use. For instance, if you want to build an image gallery the good news is there’re 12 different image gallery modules, the bad news is how do you pick one.”

To help guide Drupal potential and existing users Buytaert set up Acquia in 2007, a US-based firm that bundles Drupal and its modules into packages that are easy for enterprise to match to their needs.

Buytaert credits Acquia, which also provides support and cloud hosting, with boosting Drupal’s use by enterprise and national government.

”We helped get the White House on Drupal and did some amazing things that helped to get the ball rolling across the world. About two per cent of all the websites in the world run Drupal today. Things have been going extremely well. Acquia has grown from just two people when we started to 180 people today.”

However the wider growth of Drupal, Buytaert said, stems from the ecosystem of companies, which employ more than 100,000 people, building and hosting Drupal sites. These companies “have invested back in Drupal because they’re invested in the technology”, he said.

Growing pains

In some ways Drupal is a victim of its own success, Buytaert said, with demand for Drupal experts to build and support sites using the CMS currently outstripping supply.

”The biggest challenge that we have right now is scaling. The demand for Drupal is so high that we need more Drupal experts in the world,” said Buytaert.

”That’s a challenge, but if you are a Drupal developer you are in a good spot because many of them make a lot of money because of the high demand.”

Other challenges for the Drupal community relate to continuing to update the core Drupal platform. The next release, Drupal 8, has promised to introduce native support for HTML5 and improve the CMS’s ability to output content in multiple formats such as XML and JSON.

Drupal also faces competition from proprietary CMSes, such as OpenText’s web content management software, SDL Tridion and Sitecore, as well as fellow open source CMS WordPress.

The effect of success

Buytaert’s long-term goal for Drupal is nothing less than for it to “be the dominant platform for building websites”, with a more immediate aim of driving up use in Europe with the aid of Acquia.

And Buytaert ambitions for the platform doesn’t mean that he isn’t appreciative of the success that Drupal has had so far.

”You see large organisations like Amnesty or Greenpeace and governments all around the world, from Whitehouse.gov to data.gov.uk, and they are all using Drupal. It’s very rewarding for me to help enable them to fulfill their mission.”

And although it has been a long time since Buytaert was the sole curator of Drupal in his dorm room in Antwerp, he says he still plays an active role in the community.

”In the early days I did everything myself, I wrote all of the code, I maintained the website, wrote the documentation. Today it’s literally thousands of people who are helping. I’m still the project lead and lead technical architect but I’m also the spokesperson behind Drupal, so do a lot of marketing things. There’s a lot I don’t do anymore and I do miss writing code as a software engineer, but it’s just not the best use of my time. My time is best spent enabling others to write more code,” he said.

”As long as I keep learning I think I’ll keep having fun.”

Drupal Announces Two Community-Elected Board Members [Feb 9, 2012]

Submitted on
Thursday, February 9, 2012
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CMS Wire

The Drupal Association held its first election for two at-large board members. Donna Benjamin and Steve Purkiss were elected by Drupal community members and then ratified by the Drupal Association Board.

Myths & Realities of Drupal [Feb 8 2012]

Submitted on
Thursday, February 9, 2012
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CMS Wire

In the decade since its quiet emergence onto the scene, Drupal has become an industry standard in the web content management and web publishing field, one with an almost cult-like following among developers.

With its sophisticated, easy-to-use Drupal Core system and thousands of modules for additional customization, Drupal has something to offer everyone, whether you’re a high-performance development team or a small business owner who doesn’t know the first thing about Web Content Management Systems (Web CMS).

The rise of Drupal has led companies of all sizes to consider it for their content management needs, and for good reason. Its open source nature makes it incredibly cost-effective, while its options for customization are unmatched for flexibility.

But there’s a catch.

Read more

Winning the War Against Spam With Java [Feb 2012]

Submitted on
Monday, February 6, 2012
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Jive Magazine

Mollom eliminates unwanted postings from websites worldwide.

Got spam? Who doesn't! But if you think finding and deleting a few hundred spam messages from your inbox or Website is a challenge, try deleting a few hundred million. That's the volume that leading spam-fighters such as Dries Buytaert battle each day. As co-creator of Mollom, a Java-based technology that processes hundreds of requests per second to keep the invading horde at bay, Buytaert is continually confronted with the "dark side" of the internet: it has become a petri dish of sorts, breeding countless unsolicited automated messages and comments like invasive bacteria.

Read the full article

Namecheap Welcomes the Drupal Foundation [Feb 3, 2012]

Submitted on
Friday, February 3, 2012
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PR Web

To support Namecheap's opposition of SOPA and PIPA and to help preserve the open web, the Drupal Association has decided to move its SSL certificate to Namecheap.

After Namecheap, the leading domain name registrar, web host, and SSL certificate provider, stepped up against SOPA and PIPA in 2011, hundreds of new companies joined Namecheap's family, including the Drupal Association, which has elected to move its SSL certificate to Namecheap.

Namecheap has donated over $64,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to help the organization fight for our digital rights. Namecheap also blacked out its front page on January 18th, urging US customers to petition their government officials to ask them to shelve both acts in the House and in the Senate.

Read full article here.

MJD Interactive Agency Launches Website on Drupal [Feb 2, 2012]

Submitted on
Thursday, February 2, 2012
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PR Web

Drupal Development showcases West Health Policy Center's 'smart technologies' such as mobile health monitors and clinical research analytics.

Last week, MJD Interactive Agency launched a website for the newly announced West Health Policy Center (http://www.westhealthpolicy.org). The Policy Center aims to lower health care costs through improved reimbursement models, innovative ‘smart technologies’ such as mobile health monitors, and advanced clinical research analytics.

Philanthropic pioneers Gary and Mary West have made a multi-million dollar, multi-year commitment to establish the West Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C. with the goal of saving more than $100 billion in cumulative health care costs within 10 years by identifying common sense changes in reimbursement and regulation that can be acted on immediately and do not require legislative action.

MJD Interactive was again contracted for the custom build of the Policy Center site after launching a very successful site for the West Health Investment Fund last quarter in 2011

Read full article here

Acquia Appoints 2 New Board Members [Jan 30, 2012]

Submitted on
Monday, January 30, 2012
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Fixed Mobile Convergence

Acquia, a provider of commercial solutions for Drupal, has announced the appointment of industry veterans Thomas Bogan and Paul Sallaberry to its Board of Directors.

Acquia to Hire 120 This Year, Hosting 25 Interns [Jan 27, 2012]

Submitted on
Friday, January 27, 2012
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FINS

Burlington, Mass.-based Acquia will hire 120 new employees this year as it expands its content management support business. Founded in January of 2008, the company currently has 170 employees.

NYSE Takes Stock of Open Source CMS [Jan 26, 2012]

Submitted on
Thursday, January 26, 2012
,
Network World

Few global organizations can match the size, scale and importance of NYSE Euronext. (NYX). The leading global operator of financial markets, NYSE Euronext's markets represent fully one third of the entire world's equities trading-and the company is a major player in derivatives and technology services. NYSE Euronext is in the S&P 500 index and Fortune 500.

With all of that of course goes tremendous responsibility for systems integrity and security. That is why it might surprise some to find out that NYSE Euronext has chosen the open source Drupal CMS platform for its forward facing web infrastructure. NYSE also chose Acquia, a leading consulting company with an expertise in Drupal to help his team with the site development.

BRIT Awards Website Enjoys Traffic Frenzy [Jan 25, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
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Entertainment-focus.com

Following last week’s much anticipated and talked about nominations launch, the BRIT Awards with MasterCard website has seen record numbers of visitors as music fans log on to http://www.brits.co.uk to find out the latest news and information about next month’s ceremony.

The BRITs website is hosted and supported by Acquia, whose cloud infrastructure enables clients to rapidly scale their web sites in response to surges in site traffic. Jim Shaw, VP of Europe at Acquia, weighs in.

Why government needs open source [Jan 24, 2012]

Submitted on
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
,
Computer Weekly

The tough economic climate has forced a radical rethink on public sector IT procurement, with decision-makers now on the look-out for more efficient, cost-effective solutions. Dries Buyteart, Creator of Drupal and Co-Founder/CTO at Acquia, weighs in.

Acquia Beefs Up Board with Two Technology Veterans [Jan 24, 2012]

Submitted on
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
,
CMS Wire

Acquia is only three years old and focuses almost exclusively on open source platform Drupal, which makes its earning a spot on Forbes list of 100 most promising companies in 2011 a pretty impressive feat. Despite the company’s showing, Acquia is not yet a well-recognized name in enterprise circles. The appointment of two new board members may just change that.

Is the European Commission Helping or Hindering Tech Entrepreneurs? [Jan 23, 2012]

Submitted on
Monday, January 23, 2012
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Tech Week Europe

Techweek Europe asks Drupal inventor Dries Buytaert about his platform, its strong European following and his view on venture capitalism in the European Union.

Video: Veteran Central, Acquia Hosting Customer [Jan 18, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
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Watch below to learn all about Veteran Central, the first online community for veterans and their advocates to share experiences, employment opportunities, and more... Powered by Drupal and hosted by Acquia.

Doing Digital for Romney: An Interview with Zac Moffatt [Jan 18, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
,
The Atlantic

What exactly do you spend your days thinking about when you're a digital director of a presidential campaign that's on track to win the Republican nomination? Zac Moffatt, 32, leads the digital side of the Mitt Romney campaign. He moved up to Boston last spring with his wife after some years in Virginia and jobs throughout Republican politics, including work on Bush-Cheney '04, with the Republican National Committee, and a variety of high and low profile races with his firm, Targeted Victory. We talked recently about the shortcomings of judging digital by the same sort of raw metrics we apply to, say fundraising (see, the Washington Post's @MentionMachine ), about how much of tech politics is happening behind the scenes, and about what digital success looks like.

Read full article at: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/01/doing-digital-for-ro...

The road to a successful open source project: Learning lessons from Drupal [Jan 10, 2012]

Submitted on
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
,
Tech World

By almost any measure, Drupal, an open source content management system/Web platform, should be a poster child for open source success. The PHP-based CMS, the first version of which was released by Dries Buytaert in 2001, powers the Web presence of a number of major organisations, including, since 2009, Whitehouse.gov.

When it comes what other open source projects can learn from Drupal's success, Buytaert, who is now chief technology officer of Acquia and remains Drupal's project lead, says that although he doesn't have all the answers — and that "there's no one right way" to do things — there are some lessons to be learned.

Read full article at: http://www.techworld.com.au/article/411929/road_successful_open_source_p...

Viewpoint: Enable Public Sector Efficiency Through Open Source [Jan 18, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
,
PublicTechnology.Net

Dries Buytaert, CTO, Acquia, on what Open Source could offer the UK public sector - if we let it.

OpenSaaS brings new freedom to the cloud [Jan 17, 2012]

Submitted on
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
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OpenSource Delivers

What is driving the rapid ascent of SaaS? Bryan House, VP Marketing at Acquia, weighs in.

Why choose Drupal for an enterprise CMS in the cloud? [Jan 17, 2012]

Submitted on
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
,
Tech Republic

Nick Hardiman explains his thinking behind creating a Drupal CMS installation on his Amazon Web Service. Hardiman explains why he likes Drupal, and he also notes Acquia among companies providing enterprise support for Drupal.

Acquia's Dev Cloud web platform - my first impressions [Jan 12, 2012]

Submitted on
Thursday, January 12, 2012
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Techno Ergonomics

I have to admit that I love to tinker with things. When I started playing with Linux first about 10 years ago, I realized that here was a "toy" that I'd be able to enjoy for a long, long time. I've often worked on server configuration and always had a lot of fun making servers work for big sites.

That said, I took Acquia's Dev Cloud for a spin and really like it. No hassles, it really has to be the simplest high-traffic ready system I've ever used.

If you don't know Dev Cloud, its a Drupal specific web hosting system. You get three separate "server environments" for each site - development, testing and live production. There is a web-based deployment tool to manage these environments. There are also some nice extras, like support, Apache Solr search and a handful of web services that you can use with your sites.

In my next post I'll go over how you get your site running on Dev Cloud and some of the best practices that we've found using it.

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