Now that the Acquia Network and Acquia Drupal are available, it is a good time to provide more visibility into where Acquia is headed. Just like we did early on in Acquia's life when we announced "Carbon" (now called "Acquia Drupal") and "Spokes" (now called the "Acquia Network"), we'd like to provide some transparency and visibility in our product strategy for 2009. This post provides a window into those plans.
As we started making plans for 2009, we realized that the best thing we could do, not just for us but also for our partners and the Drupal community at large, is to help tear down the barriers to using Drupal so that it can fulfill its full potential. As a result, much of what Acquia will do in 2009 relates to improving Drupal's adoption rate (e.g. improved usability, increasing awareness, better scalability, commercial-grade support, etc).
Here are Acquia's biggest projects for the year ... just like we did in 2008 with "Carbon" and "Spokes", we're using code names for most of our new projects.
Acquia Front Lawn: Drupal 7 usability
With the success of the drupal.org redesign in mind, I wondered if it would be possible for Mark Boulton and Leisa Reichelt to help us improve usability in Drupal itself. Since one of Acquia's key goals is to help expand Drupal adoption, and improving Drupal's usability is key to that, we decided to hire Mark Boulton to help with Drupal 7. We've asked Mark and Leisa to do all their work out in the open, in the Drupal community, so that the community can be involved and give input every step of the way. They have already been brainstorming with some members of Drupal's usability team, but the actual work will start at DrupalCon DC in two weeks.
Acquia Fields: scalable Drupal infrastructure
As a Drupal site gets more popular and bigger, keeping the site running and making it scale can be a huge challenge. Drupal can scale well, but expertise required to make Drupal scale well can be expensive and hard to find. We will address this problem with Acquia's custom Drupal hosting — code-named Acquia Fields.
We built acquia.com in the cloud (using Amazon EC2), and have learned what works in the cloud and what doesn't. And we've had a rapidly growing number of requests to help customers build out similar infrastructure for their large-scale sites. We'll continue to build this incrementally, but our long term vision includes virtually unlimited scalability, automatic off-site backup and recovery, continuous site performance monitoring, and more. All of this will be backed by Acquia's support team.
Acquia Gardens: Drupal for everyone
Many individuals and organizations want a killer web site, but have no idea that Drupal is a great way to build one or to connect with other websites. Even if they did hear about Drupal, few non-technical people succeed in installing and hosting a Drupal site. In much the same way that Wordpress.com and Ning make it easy for people to start blogging or set up a social network, Acquia Gardens will provide an on-ramp for people to experience the awesome power of a Drupal based social publishing website. Our goal is to make the base service free of charge, and to introduce Drupal to millions of new users. Having a free entry point is essential to promoting viral adoption via word of mouth, which will help dramatically increase awareness of what Drupal has to offer. To make the services sustainable, we will charge for premium services and features.
A fundamental tenet of our strategy is the freedom to grow, migrate, or leave. We believe that site owners should be able to start with Acquia Gardens and migrate their site to Acquia Fields if they need more features, or to their own hosting provider if they prefer. To make that possible, you'll be able to export your Acquia Gardens site.
Acquia Network at the center
If we succeed in building the products above, we will have 3 deployment models for Drupal: (i) using Drupal, or Acquia Drupal, on your own infrastructure, (ii) using Drupal on Acquia Fields, and (iii) as part of Acquia Gardens. At the center of these 3 deployment options lives the Acquia Network. The Acquia Network provides three types of services for site owners: technical support, site management services (site traffic and usage statistics, uptime monitoring), and services to add valuable functionality to your site (powerful content searching, spam blocking, media delivery). The need for these services are universal regardless of how you use Drupal or where Drupal is hosted.
What we offer today in the Acquia Network is just a start. We have a long list of ideas for new services that will enhance Acquia Drupal sites and generally make life easier for site owners. The newest member of the Acquia Network services will we our hosted search offering based on Apache Solr. Acquia Search will provide Drupal site owners multi-site search, better results, faster performance, document search, federated search, and more. We already blogged about this, and we are recruiting beta testers. We think it has big value for Drupal users.
There are other great things that we are working on, but I've decided to focus on the broad initiatives that we're undertaking in 2009.
As always, much of the work we'll do, we'll do in the community, and we hope that others will join us as partners in realizing these plans, because we need the collaboration and support of many people outside the company to make it all work well. If you aspire to some of the same business objectives, we're open to joining forces around common goals.
There is a lot of work ahead to implement this strategy. Needless to say, it will be a multi-year effort to implement everything as envisioned. The game may change along the way, however, the groundwork is in place and we expect to be in the market with incremental progress as soon as possible. In the mean time, we'd love to get your feedback on what we have planned so we can make adjustments and improvements.
We can't wait to tell you more — at the right time. In the mean time, you can find our roadmap at https://www.acquia.com/community/projects/acquia-2009-roadmap.
— Dries Buytaert
Dries Buytaert is an Open Source advocate and technology executive. More than 10,000 people are subscribed to his blog. Sign up to have new posts emailed to you or subscribe using RSS. Write to Dries Buytaert at email@example.com.