Acquia Public Sector VP Todd Akers on Why Government Agencies Should be Leveraging Open Source [Sept. 2, 2014]
By Michelle Davis
It’s a good time to be in the business of open source – or at least that’s what companies like Burlington, Mass.-based Acquia are broadcasting.
The company helps clients optimize digital strategies with services and solutions including open cloud hosting, developer tools and support for the open-source content management system, Drupal.
Todd Akers, vice president of the company’s public sector, told us in a recent interview that his optimism stems from the fact that the Drupal platform is enterprise ready and increasingly popular across the federal government. In fact, his team responded to 14 different RFPs and RFIs last quarter alone for Drupal from agencies.
“Today we’re seeing an acceleration in the momentum and adoption of open source, and Drupal in particular, across the federal government,” Akers said. “Whereas there may have once been a misperception that implementation of open source platforms presented a lot of roadblocks, now people are realizing their immense value.”
Acquia is currently the largest Drupal infrastructure provider in the world and serves roughly 27 billion hits, or 333TB of bandwidth, a month, according to Drupal creator and Acquia’s CTO, Dries Buytaert, in a recent blog post.
As if managing a share of government agency websites wasn’t enough, electronic commerce company Amazon Inc. recently became the newest investor in Acquia.
“This investment builds on the recent $50 million financing round that Acquia completed in May, which was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA),” Buytaert wrote in the blog post.
The company uses open source technology to power digital transformation and improve communication and citizen engagement for a range of agencies and government sites – think – fema.gov, georgia.gov and dot.gov – and has been heavily involved in re-platforming projects for the Justice Department and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“We have well over 100 customers in the federal marketplace and more than 60 customers in state and local,” Akers said. “The fact that these agencies have chosen Acquia is testament to the fact that open source is an ideal choice for federal, state and local agencies that want to deliver and share critical information to the public.”
In our interview, Akers told us about his favorite commercial application and walked us through the open source landscape — explaining the value in open source platforms like Drupal, outlining why the technology drives digital innovation within government, and how to mitigate security concerns.
WashingtonExec: What is the largest roadblock you face when promoting open source platforms within government agencies?
Todd Akers: Well, there are still some lingering roadblocks when it comes to adopting open source platforms in the public sector. Namely, that it’s not secure enough, it’s too open, and that it’s not enterprise-grade.