The web is free; shouldn't your social business software be?
by Jay Batson
Today is a fun day for me: We’re releasing Drupal Commons as a 1.0 release. Woo hoo! Time - once again - for open source to go blow the doors off another proprietary software cathedral.
Drupal Commons is Acquia’s project to create an open source social business software solution for enterprises deploying a community site - either externally-facing, or for an internal community.
Most Drupalists already know that Drupal has gobs of social capabilities. In fact, Drupal is the most widely used social business platform on the web: most of the hundreds of thousands of existing Drupal websites use Drupal’s social features for user-generated content, including discussion groups, content ratings, user profiles, and other social features.
Yet despite the widespread use of Drupal for social stuff on the web, I’ve watched with frustration every time an enterprise deploys a proprietary social business software solution. On a regular basis, the hallways at Acquia were filled with me howling “But there’s nothing those solutions are doing that Drupal can’t do!”
There was one important dynamic, though: the people parting with big bucks for the proprietary solutions were not the same people in enterprises who were accustomed to building corporate websites from Drupal building blocks. Thing is, typically Drupal is considered a development framework - not a packaged solution. And these buyers were primarily software users who sought something that a) arrived, fully functional, but still b) could adapt to their particular community’s needs. Enterprises were calling us because of Drupal’s reputation for freedom and flexibility; but they were making the proprietary software choice - with all its downside - because there wasn’t a fully-functional, off-the-shelf Drupal solution for social business use.
That era comes to an end today. With the release of Drupal Commons, enterprises have an open source alternative to social business software. They are free to choose Drupal as the safer alternative, because it provides both:
- A finished product. Drupal Commons is a fully-functional social business software solution that frees your community to assemble and grow. It full-on rivals any proprietary alternative.
- Open-source freedom. Drupal Commons frees you of the limitations of proprietary APIs and roadblocking “Product Roadmaps”. It lets you leverage Drupal’s unrivalled flexibility, and any of the thousands of community-provided modules to connect your site with your CRM, or SSO or any other integration point needed.
You can get ahold of it two ways: either join the Commons community site at commons.acquia.com and “just use it” to see how it works, or download the code and try out some of the features we don’t have enabled for you at that site (such as the ability to create new groups.)
We at Acquia believe a lot in the freedoms that come with open source. Even our name for this distribution - “Commons” - is born from the spirit of the nearby Boston Common - a space open to all for the benefit of all.
And the way I see it, Drupal Commons embodies three important freedoms:
- Freedom of assembly, giving your community members easy, familiar ways to connect with one another, and participate in your community;
- Freedom from technology limits, liberating you to extend and adapt your social community site the way you need - the very core of the open source value proposition;
- Freedom from software license costs, sparing you from spending half your community-building budget on expensive software licensing fees.
Bottom line: the web is free and ready-to-use; shouldn’t your social software be, too?
The last few months our crack Acquia team has been working with customers to get Drupal Commons assembled, and we're very pleased to announce its availability. To go along with this release, Acquia has assembled a wide array of products and services to support enterprises who want their community site to be based on Drupal Commons. If you’re one of these organizations, call us - we’ve got your back.
Drupal Commons means freedom from functional limits; you can customize to your heart’s content. So if you want Drupal Commons customized for your installation, Acquia has a full range of partners who know how to adapt Drupal Commons to your specfic needs. We also have partners like Community Roundtable that can help you with the human side of getting your community running well.
And finally, we know in our DNA what huge advantages are gained by making sure all Drupal Commons code is open source, so that others can contribute. We already know there’s a TON of smart Drupal contributors who want to extend Drupal Commons, and submit code patches back to get them incorporated. To you, we hope you’ll jump in and use the normal Drupal way to contribute your additions to the project over time.
If you’re looking to build a community site, and considering any of the proprietary social business software solutions, stop looking there and look at Drupal Commons instead. Then, Acquia is here to help you along the way; we’ll help you gain the freedom to build your community, your way, with open source Drupal Commons.