About 5 years ago, the Drupal 8 version of Acquia Lightning was designed to enable developers to create great authoring experiences and empower editorial teams. We identified a few key areas where Drupal core didn't have sufficient capabilities, and while this functionality was possible, it required work and effort for each site to pick the right modules and properly configure them. These key areas were Media, Layout, Workflow and API-First.
The entire goal of Acquia Lightning was to help improve Drupal by contributing as much of this into core as possible. By acting as an incubator, it was able to build, iterate and deliver value as quickly as possible. The result is that Lightning has gotten "slimmer" over the past half decade as it has worked with the community to standardize and integrate those major areas of functionality.
Today, Drupal 9 core provides an exceptionally powerful and extensible framework for providing a great authoring and editorial experience out of the box. Media, Layout, Workflow and API-first are all part of core, with robust support, tests and a vibrant ecosystem of extensions.
Lightning has been wildly successful, and the distribution* will reach its end of life in November 2021 with the end of Drupal 8. We accomplished what we set out to do, and are so incredibly proud of the amazing work and effort that the Lightning team has provided to the community.
Acquia CMS: To Boldly Go into Drupal 9
While Drupal core has been greatly improved, Acquia's customers have been asking for more. More integrations with our DXP, composable tools for content creation, faster time to market, more support for the citizen developer and more opinions about best practices. We have listened, and that's why we are releasing Acquia CMS for Drupal 9.
Where Acquia Lightning was intentionally lightweight with minimal configuration, Acquia CMS includes more best practices and opinions informed by our world-class professional services team, our most reliable partners and our most successful customers. It represents thousands of hours of development work packaged into a turnkey solution and powered by our world-class products.
Acquia CMS takes the best of what Drupal can provide and adds integrations with our tools and products to create something truly unique — the world's first enterprise-class composable platform. With a powerful theme builder, visual content assembly engine, standard content types and a set of the most useful community modules all packaged together, Acquia CMS represents a huge leap into the next frontier.
While Acquia CMS is an open source (GPL) distribution, you will want to leverage Acquia's tools to unlock all of the functionality that simply does not exist anywhere else. It has been designed to be useful for everyone on your team to move faster and integrate with other solutions at warp speed.
The Drupal 9 Future is Now
We are very proud of Acquia Lightning and happy that it provided so much great value to our customers and the community. Acquia will continue to support the distribution until Drupal 8's end of life in November 2021, and the modules will be supported for Drupal 9. It has been a huge investment, but we believe in giving back more. In this way, we all win.
Now, we are incredibly excited to release Acquia CMS to the world as the best way to build a Drupal 9 site. Find out more about what Acquia CMS provides, and remember — any Drupal 9 site can go to warp speed with the integrations we provide.
Everyone has the option to supercharge their existing sites, and we are happy to show you how. As we see the Lightning-based sites upgrade to Drupal 9, we will see many of them integrate the best of what Acquia CMS has to offer. The future is now, and it's a great place to be.
* While the distro will end, it already has an upgrade path to Drupal 9. The Lightning modules will continue to receive security support for the life of Drupal 9. For more information, see the FAQs.