Sustaining the Drupal Association in uncertain times

A blue heart with the Drupal icon in it

Today, I'm asking for your financial support for the Drupal Association. As we all know, we are living in unprecedented times, and the Drupal Association needs our help. With DrupalCon being postponed or potentially canceled, there will be a significant financial impact on our beloved non-profit.

Over the past twenty years, the Drupal project has weathered many storms, including financial crises. Every time, Drupal has come out stronger. As I wrote last week, I'm confident that Drupal and Open Source will weather the current storm as well.

While the future for Drupal and Open Source is in no doubt, the picture is not as clear for the Drupal Association.

Thirteen years ago, six years after I started Drupal, the Drupal Association was formed. As an Open Source non-profit, the Drupal Association's mission was to help grow and sustain the Drupal community. It still has that same mission today. The Drupal Association plays a critical role in Drupal's success: it manages Drupal.org, hosts Open Source collaboration tools, and brings the community together at events around the world.

The Drupal Association's biggest challenge in the current crisis is to figure out what to do about DrupalCon Minneapolis. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused the Drupal Association to postpone or perhaps even cancel DrupalCon Minneapolis.

With over 3,000 attendees, DrupalCon is not only the Drupal community's main event — it's also the most important financial lever to support the Drupal Association and the staff, services, and infrastructure they provide to the Drupal project. Despite efforts to diversify its revenue model, the Drupal Association remains highly dependent on DrupalCon.

No matter what happens with DrupalCon, there will be a significant financial impact to the Drupal Association. The Drupal Association is now in a position where it needs to find between $400,000 and $1.1 million USD depending on if we postpone or cancel the event.

In these trying times, the best of Drupal's worldwide community is already shining through. Some organizations and individuals proactively informed the Drupal Association that they could keep their sponsorship dollars or ticket price whether or not DrupalCon North America happens this year: Lullabot, Centarro, FFW, Palantir.net, Amazee Group and Contegix have come forward to pledge that they will not request a refund of their DrupalCon Minneapolis sponsorship, even if it will be cancelled. Acquia, my company, has joined in this campaign as well, and will not request a refund of its DrupalCon sponsorship either.

These are great examples of forward-thinking leadership and action, and is what makes our community so special. Not only do these long-time Drupal Association sponsors understand that the entire Drupal project benefits from the resources the Drupal Association provides for us — they also anticipated the financial needs the Drupal Association is working hard to understand, model and mitigate.

In order to preserve the Drupal Association, not just DrupalCon, more financial help is needed:

  • Consider making a donation to the Drupal Association.
  • Other DrupalCon sponsors can consider this year's sponsorship as a contribution and not seek a refund should the event be cancelled, postponed or changed.
  • Individuals can consider becoming a member, increasing their membership level, or submitting an additional donation.

I encourage everyone in the Drupal community, including our large enterprise users, to come together and find creative ways to help the Drupal Association and each other. All contributions are highly valued.

The Drupal Association is not alone. This pandemic has wreaked havoc not only on other technology conferences, but on many organizations' fundamental ability to host conferences at all moving forward.

I want to thank all donors, contributors, volunteers, the Drupal Association staff, and the Drupal Association Board of Directors for helping us work through this. It takes commitment, leadership and courage to weather any storm, especially a storm of the current magnitude. Thank you!

Is Open Source recession-proof?

Abstract image representing an infinite wave

The world is experiencing a scary time right now. People feel uncertain about the state of the world: we're experiencing a global pandemic, the OPEC is imploding, the trade war between the US and China could escalate, and stock markets around the world are crashing. Watching the impact on people's lives, including my own family, has been difficult.

People have asked me how this could impact Open Source. What is happening in the world is so unusual, it is hard to anticipate what exactly will happen. While the road ahead is unknown, the fact is that Open Source has successfully weathered multiple recessions.

While recessions present a difficult time for many, I believe Open Source communities have the power to sustain themselves during an economic downturn, and even to grow.

Firstly, large Open Source communities consist of people all around the world who believe in collective progress, building something great together, and helping one another. Open Source communities are not driven by top-line growth -- they're driven by a collective purpose, a big heart, and a desire to build good software. These values make Open Source communities both resilient and recharging.

Secondly, during an economic downturn, organizations will look to lower costs, take control of their own destiny, and strive to do more with less. Adopting Open Source helps these organizations survive and thrive.

Open Source continues to grow despite recessions

I looked back at news stories and data from the last two big recessions — the dot-com crash (2000-2004) and the Great Recession (2007-2009) — to see how Open Source fared.

According to an InfoWorld article from 2009, 2000-2001 (the dot-com crash) was one of the largest periods of growth for Open Source software communities.

Twenty years ago, Open Source was just beginning to challenge proprietary software in the areas of operating systems, databases, and middleware. According to Gartner, the dot-com bust catapulted Linux adoption into the enterprise market. Enterprise adoption accelerated because organizations looked into Open Source as a way to cut IT spending, without compromising on their own pace of innovation.

Eight years later, during the Great Recession, we saw the same trend. As Forrester observed in 2009, more companies started considering, implementing, and expanding their use of Open Source software.

Red Hat, the most prominent public Open Source company in 2009, was outperforming proprietary software giants. As Oracle's and Microsoft's profits dropped in early 2009, Red Hat's year-over-year revenue grew by 11 percent.

Anecdotally, I can say that starting Acquia during the Great Recession was scary, but ended up working out well. Despite the economic slump, Acquia continued to grow year-over-year revenues in the years following the Great Recession from 2009 to 2011.

I also checked in with some long-standing Drupal agencies and consultancies (Lullabot, Phase2 and Palantir.net), who all reported growing during the Great Recession. They attribute that growth directly to Drupal and the bump that Open Source received as a result of the recession. Again, businesses were looking at Open Source to be efficient without sacrificing innovation or quality.

Why Open Source will continue to grow and win

Fast forward another 10 years, and Open Source is still less expensive than proprietary software. In addition, Open Source has grown to be more secure, more flexible, and more stable than ever before. Today, the benefits of Open Source are even more compelling than during past recessions.

Open Source contribution can act as an important springboard for individuals in their careers as well. Developers who are unemployed often invest their time and talent back into Open Source communities to expand their skill sets or build out their resumes. People can both give and get from participating in Open Source projects.

That is true for organizations as well. Organizations around the world are starting to understand that contributing to Open Source can give them a competitive edge. By contributing to Open Source, and by sharing innovation with others, organizations can engage in a virtuous and compounding innovation cycle.

No one wants to experience another recession. But if we do, despite all of the uncertainty surrounding us today, I am optimistic that Open Source will continue to grow and expand, and that it can help many individuals and organizations along the way.

Acquia a Leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms

Today, for the first time in our company's history, Acquia was named a Leader in Gartner's new Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs). This is an incredible milestone for us.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms

In 2014, I declared that companies would need more than a website or a CMS to deliver great customer experiences. Instead, they would need a DXP that could integrate lots of different marketing and customer success technologies, and operate across more digital channels (e.g. mobile, chat, voice, and more).

For five years, Acquia has diligently been building towards an "open DXP". As part of that, we expanded our product portfolio with solutions like Lift (website personalization), and acquired two marketing companies: Mautic (marketing automation + email marketing), and AgilOne (Customer Data Platform).

Being named a Leader by Gartner in the Digital Experience Platforms Magic Quadrant validates years and years of hard work, including last year's acquisitions. We also join an amazing cohort of leaders, like Salesforce and Adobe, who are among the very best software companies in the world. All of this makes me incredibly proud of the Acquia team.

This recognition comes after six years as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management (WCM). We learned recently that Gartner is deprecating its Web Content Management Magic Quadrant as Gartner clients' demand has been shifting to the broader scope of DXPs. We also see growing interest in DXPs from our clients, though we believe WCM and content will continue to play a foundational and critical role.

You can read the full Gartner report on Acquia's website. Thank you to the entire Acquia team who made this incredible accomplishment possible!

Mandatory disclaimer from Gartner

Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms, Irina Guseva, Gene Phifer, Mike Lowndes, 29 January 2020.

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Acquia.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Happy nineteenth birthday, Drupal

Happy nineteenth birthday

Nineteen years ago today, I released Drupal 1.0.0. Every day, for the past nineteen years, the Drupal community has collaborated on providing the world with an Open Source CMS and making a difference on how the web is built and run.

It's easy to forget that software is written one line of code at the time. And that adoption is driven one website at the time. I look back on nearly two decades of Drupal, and I'm incredibly proud of our community, and how we've contributed to a more open, independent internet.

Today, many of us in the Drupal community are working towards the launch of Drupal 9. Major releases of Drupal only happen every 3-5 years. They are an opportunity to bring our community together, create something meaningful, and celebrate our collective work. But more importantly, major releases are our best opportunity to re-engage past users and attract new users, explaining why Drupal is better than closed CMS platforms.

As we mark Drupal's 19th year, let's all work together on a successful launch of Drupal 9 in 2020, including a wide-spread marketing strategy. It's the best birthday present we can give to Drupal.

Acquia retrospective 2019

Wow, what a year 2019 was for Acquia!

Acquia 2018 business metrics

At the beginning of every year, I like to publish a retrospective to look back and take stock of how far Acquia has come over the past 12 months. I take the time to write these retrospectives because I want to keep a record of the changes we've gone through as a company and how my personal thinking is evolving from year to year.

If you'd like to read my previous retrospectives, they can be found here: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009. This year marks the publishing of my eleventh retrospective. When read together, these posts provide a comprehensive overview of Acquia's growth and trajectory.

Our product strategy remained steady in 2019. We continued to invest heavily in (1) our Web Content Management solutions, while (2) accelerating our move into the broader Digital Experience Platform market. Let's talk about both.

Acquia's continued focus on Web Content Management

In 2019, for the sixth year in a row, Acquia was recognized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. Our tenure as a top vendor is a strong endorsement for the "Web Content Management in the Cloud" part of our strategy.

We continued to invest heavily in Acquia Cloud in 2019. As a result, Acquia Cloud remains the most secure, scalable and compliant cloud for Drupal. An example and highlight was the successful delivery of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report. According to Federal Computer Week, by 5pm on the day of the report's release, there had already been 587 million site visits, with 247 million happening within the first hour — a 7,000% increase in traffic. I'm proud of Acquia's ability to deliver at a very critical moment.

Time-to-value and costs are big drivers for our customers; people don't want to spend a lot of time installing, building or upgrading their websites. Throughout 2019, this trend has been the primary driver for our investments in Acquia Cloud and Drupal.

  • We have more than 15 employees who contribute to Drupal full-time; the majority of them focused on making Drupal easier to use and maintain. As a result of that, Acquia remained the largest contributor to Drupal in 2019.
  • In September, we announced that Acquia acquired Cohesion, a Software-as-a-Service visual Drupal website builder. Cohesion empowers marketers, content authors and designers to build Drupal websites faster and cheaper than ever before.
  • We launched a multitude of new features for Acquia Cloud which enabled our customers to make their sites faster and more secure. To make our customer's sites faster, we added a free CDN for all Cloud customers. All our customers also got a New Relic Pro subscription for application performance management (APM). We released Acquia Cloud API v2 with double the number of endpoints to maximize customer productivity, added single-sign on capabilities, obtained FIPS compliance, and much more.
  • We rolled out many "under the hood" improvements; for example, thanks to various infrastructure improvements our customers' sites saw performance improvements anywhere from 30% to 60% at no cost to them.
  • Making Acquia Cloud easier to buy and use by enhancing our self-service capabilities has been a major focus throughout all of 2019. The fruits of these efforts will start to become more publicly visible in 2020. I'm excited to share more with you in future blog posts.

At the end of 2019, Gartner announced it is ending their Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. We're proud of our six year leadership streak, right up to this Magic Quadrant's end. Instead, Gartner is going to focus on the broader scope of Digital Experience Platforms, leaving stand-alone Web Content Management platforms behind.

Gartner's decision to drop the Web Content Management Magic Quadrant is consistent with the second part of our product strategy; a transition from Web Content Management to Digital Experience Management.

Acquia's expansion into Digital Experience Management

We started our expansion from Web Content Management to the Digital Experience Platform market five years ago, in 2014. We believed, and still believe, that just having a website is no longer sufficient: customers expect to interact with brands through their websites, email, chat and more. The real challenge for most organizations is to drive personalized customer experiences across all these different channels and to make those customer experiences highly relevant.

For five years now, we've been patient investors and builders, delivering products like Acquia Lift, our web personalization tool. In June, we released a completely new version of Acquia Lift. We redesigned the user interface and workflows from scratch, added various new capabilities to make it easier for marketers to run website personalization campaigns, added multi-lingual support and much more. Hands down, the new Acquia Lift offers the best web personalization for Drupal.

In addition to organic growth, we also made two strategic acquisitions to accelerate our investment in becoming a full-blown Digital Experience Platform:

  1. In May, Acquia acquired Mautic, an open marketing automation platform. Mautic helps open up more channels for Acquia: email, push notifications, and more. Like Drupal, Mautic is Open Source, which helps us deliver the only Open Digital Experience Platform as an alternative to the expensive, closed, and stagnant marketing clouds.
  2. In December, we announced that Acquia acquired AgilOne, a leading Customer Data Platform (CDP). To make customer experiences more relevant, organizations need to better understand their customers: what they are interested in, what they purchased, when they last interacted with the support organization, how they prefer to consume information, etc. Without a doubt, organizations want to better understand their customers and use data-driven decisions to accelerate growth.

We have a clear vision for how to redefine a Digital Experience Platform such that it is free of any silos.

A diagram shows how Acquia solutions unify experience creation, content and user data across different platforms.

In 2020, expect us to integrate the data and experience layers of Lift, Mautic and AgilOne, but still offer each capability on its own aligned with our best-of-breed approach. We believe that this will benefit not only our customers, but also our agency partners.

Momentum

Demand for our Open Digital Experience Platform continued to grow among the world's most well-known brands. New customers include Liverpool Football Club, NEC Corporation, TDK Corporation, L'Oreal Group, Jewelers Mutual Insurance, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Lonely Planet, and GOL Airlines among hundreds of others.

We ended the year with more than 1,050 Acquians working around the globe with offices in 14 locations. The three acquisitions we made during the year added an additional 150 new Acquians to the team. We celebrated the move to our new and bigger India office in Pune, and ended the year with 80 employees in India. We celebrated over 200 promotions or role changes showing great development and progression within our team.

We continued to introduce Acquia to more people in 2019. Our takeover of the Kendall Square subway station near MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in April, for instance, helped introduce more than 272,000 daily commuters to our company. In addition to posters on every wall of the station, the campaign — in which photographs of fellow Acquians were prominently featured — included Acquia branding on entry turnstiles, 75 digital live boards, and geo-targeted mobile ads.

Last but not least, we continued our tradition of "Giving back more", a core part of our DNA or values. We sponsored 250 kids in the Wonderfund Gift Drive (an increase of 50 from 2018), raised money to help 1,000 kids in India to get back to school after the floods in Kolhapur, raised more than $10,000 for Girls Who Code, $10,000 for Cancer Research UK, and more.

Some personal reflections

With such a strong focus on product and engineering, 2019 was one of the busiest years for me personally. We grew our R&D organization by about 100 employees in 2019. This meant I spent a lot of time restructuring, improving and scaling the R&D organization to make sure we could handle the increased capacity, and to help make sure all our different initiatives remain on track.

On top of that, Acquia received a substantial majority investment from Vista Equity Partners. Attracting a world-class partner like Vista involved a lot of work, and was a huge milestone for the company.

It feels a bit surreal that we crossed 1,000 employees in 2019.

There were also some low-lights in 2019. On Christmas, Acquia's SVP of Engineering Mike Aeschliman, unexpectedly passed away. Mike was one of the three people I worked most closely with and his passing is a big loss for Acquia. I miss Mike greatly.

If I have one regret for 2019, it is that I was almost entirely internally focused. I missed hitting the road — either to visit employees, customers or Drupal and Mautic community members around the world. I hope to find a better balance in 2020.

Thank you

2019 was a busy year, but also a very rewarding year. I remain very excited about Acquia's long-term opportunity, and believe we've steered the company to be positioned at the right place at the right time. All of this is not to say 2020 will be easy. Quite the contrary, as we have a lot of work ahead of us in 2020, including the release of Drupal 9. 2020 should be another exciting year for us!

Thank you for your support in 2019!

Caring for old links

I decided to use the holiday break to do a link audit for my personal blog. I found hundreds of links that broke and hundreds of links that now redirect. This wasn't a surprise, as I haven't spent much time maintaining links in the 13 years I've been blogging.

Broken links

Some of the broken links were internal, but the vast majority were external.

"Internal links" are links that go from one page on https://dri.es to a different page on https://dri.es. Fixing broken links feels good so I went ahead and fixed all internal links.

It's a different story for external links. "External links" are links that point to domains not under my control.

For example, in 2007 I thanked Sun Microsystems for donating a Sun Fire X4200 server to the Drupal project. In my post, I linked to http://www.sun.com/servers/entry/x4200, the Sun Fire X4200 product page. Sun has since been acquired by Oracle, the page has been removed, and the link is now dead. I saw the following options: change this particular link to point to (1) a Wikipedia page on the Sun Fire series, (2) an archived copy of the original page on archive.org, or (3) remove the link. In this case, I decided to update the link to point to Wikipedia.

Some sites that I link to have since been hijacked by porn sites. The URL used for Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign website now points to a porn site, for example. This is unfortunate so I simply removed those links.

Redirects

Some of the external links now have URL redirects. I found what I call "obvious redirects" and "less obvious redirects".

An example of an "obvious redirect" was a link to Apple's pressroom. In my 2015 Acquia retrospective I linked to an Apple press release, https://www.apple.com/pr/library/2015/12/03Apple-Releases-Swift-as-Open-Source.html, to highlight that large organizations like Apple were starting to embrace Open Source. Today, that link automatically redirects to https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2015/12/03Apple-Releases-Swift-as-Open-Source. A slightly different URL, but ultimately the same content. One day, that redirect might cease to exist, so it felt like a good idea to update my blog post to use the new link instead. I went ahead and updated hundreds of "obvious redirects".

The more interesting case is what I call "less obvious redirects". For example, in 2012 I blogged about how the White House contributed to Drupal. It was the first time in history that the White House contributed to Open Source, and Drupal in particular. It's something that many of us in the Drupal community are very proud of. In my blog post, I linked to http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/08/23/open-sourcing-we-the-people, a page on whitehouse.gov explaining their decision to contribute. That link now redirects to http://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2012/08/23/open-sourcing-we-the-people, a permanent archive of the Obama administration's White House website. For me, it is less obvious what to do about this link: updating the link future proofs my site, but at the cost of losing some of its significance and historic value. For now, I left the original whitehouse.gov link in place.

How to best care for old links?

I'm not entirely sure why I picked the Wikipedia link over archive.org when I updated the Sun Fire X4200 blog post, or why I left the original whitehouse.gov link in place. I also left many broken links in place because I'm undecided about what to do with them.

It is important that we care for old links. Before I continue my link clean up, I'd like to come up with a more structured, and possibly automatable, approach for link maintenance. I'm curious to learn how others care for old links, and if you know of any best practices, guidelines, or even automations.

Acquia to acquire AgilOne to solve data challenges with AI

I'm excited to announce that Acquia has signed a definitive agreement to acquire AgilOne, a leading Customer Data Platform (CDP).

CDPs pull customer data from multiple sources, clean it up and combine it to create a single customer profile. That unified profile is then made available to marketing and business systems to improve the customer experience.

For the past 12 months, I've been watching the CDP space closely and have talked to a dozen CDP vendors. I believe that every organization will need a CDP (although most organizations don't realize it yet).

Why AgilOne?

According to independent research firm The CDP Institute, CDPs are a part of a rapidly growing software category that is expected to exceed $1 billion in revenue in 2019. While the CDP market is relatively new and small, a plethora of CDPs exist in the market today.

One of the reasons we really liked AgilOne is their machine learning capabilities — they will give our customers a competitive advantage. AgilOne supports machine learning models that intelligently segment customers and predict customer behaviors (e.g. when a customer is likely to purchase something). This allows for the creation and optimization of next-best action models to optimize offers and messages to customers on a 1:1 basis.

For example, lululemon, one of the most popular brands in workout apparel, collects data across a variety of online and offline customer experiences, including in-store events and website interactions, commerce transactions, email marketing, and more. AgilOne helped them integrate all those systems and create unified customer data profiles. This unlocked a lot of data that was previously siloed. Once lululemon better understood its customers' behaviors, they leveraged AgilOne's machine learning capabilities to increase attendance to local events by 25%, grow revenue from digital marketing campaigns by 10-15%, and increase site visits by 50%.

Another example is TUMI, a manufacturer of high-end suitcases. TUMI turned to AgilOne and AI to personalize outbound marketing (like emails, push notifications and one-to-one chat), smarten its digital advertising strategy, and improve the customer experience and service. The results? TUMI sent 40 million fewer emails in 2017 and made more money from them. Before AgilOne, TUMI's e-commerce revenue decreased. After they implemented AgilOne, it increased sixfold.

Fundamentally improving the customer experience

Having a great customer experience is more important than ever before — it's what sets competitors apart from one another. Taxis and Ubers both get people from point A to B, but Uber's customer experience is usually superior.

Building a customer experience online used to be pretty straightforward; all you needed was a simple website. Today, it's a lot more involved.

The real challenge for most organizations is not to redesign their website with the latest and greatest JavaScript framework. No, the real challenge is to drive relevant customer experiences across all the different channels — including web, mobile, social, email and voice — and to make those customer experiences highly relevant.

I've long maintained that the two fundamental building blocks to delivering great digital experiences are (1) content and (2) user data. This is consistent with the diagram I've been using in presentations and on my blog for many years where "user profile" and "content repository" represent two systems of record (though updated for the AgilOne acquisition).

A diagram that shows organizations need both good user data and good content to deliver relevant digital experiences.

To drive results, wrangling data is not optional

To dramatically improve customer experiences, organizations need to understand their customers: what they are interested in, what they purchased, when they last interacted with the support organization, how they prefer to consume information, etc.

But as an organization's technology stack grows, user data becomes siloed within different platforms:

A diagram that illustrates how user data is siloed within different platforms, including web, email marketing, commerce, and CRM

When an organization doesn't have a 360º view of its customers, it can't deliver a great experience to its customers. We have all interacted with a help desk person that didn't know what you recently purchased, is asking you questions you've answered multiple times before, or isn't aware that you already got some help troubleshooting through social media.

Hence, the need for integrating all your backend systems and creating a unified customer profile. AgilOne addresses this challenge, and has helped many of the world's largest brands understand and engage better with their customers.

A diagram that shows how user data is unified with AgilOne across web, email marketing, commerce, social media, and CRM.

Acquia's strategy and vision

It's easy to see how AgilOne is an important part of Acquia's vision to deliver the industry's only open digital experience platform. Together, with Drupal, Lift and Mautic, AgilOne will allow us to redefine the customer experience stack. Everything is based on Open Source and open APIs, and designed from the ground up to make it easier for marketers to create relevant, personal campaigns across a variety of channels.

A diagram shows how Acquia solutions unify experience creation, content and user data across different platforms.

Welcome to the team, AgilOne! You are a big part of Acquia's future.

Teaching my son how the web works

For the first time, I taught my twelve year old son some HTML and CSS. This morning after breakfast we sat down and created a basic HTML page with some simple styling.

I explained to him that <a> is the most powerful HTML tag of them all ...

It was a special experience for both of us. It looks like I sparked his interest as later he asked where he can learn about different HTML tags. I loved that he shared an interest to learn more.

But it also made me think that rather than just teach him HTML and CSS syntax, I want to help him develop an appreciation for how the web works. I'll have to think about how to best explain concepts like HTTP, DNS, IP addresses, and maybe even TCP.

State of Drupal presentation (October 2019)

Last week, many Drupalists came together for Drupalcon Amsterdam.

As a matter of tradition, I presented my State of Drupal keynote. You can watch a recording of my keynote (starting at 20:44 minutes), or download a copy of my slides (149 MB).

Drupal 8 innovation update

I kicked off my keynote with an update on Drupal 8. Drupal 8.8 is expected to ship on December 4th, and will come with many exciting improvements.

Drupal 8.7 shipped with a Media Library to allow editors to reuse images, videos and other media assets. In Drupal 8.8, Media Library has been marked as stable, and features a way to easily embed media assets using a WYSIWYG text editor.

I'm even more proud to say that Drupal has never looked better, nor been more accessible. I showed our progress on Claro, a new administration UI for Drupal. Once Claro is stable, Drupal will look more modern and appealing out-of-the-box.

The Composer Initiative has also made significant progress. Drupal 8.8 will be the first Drupal release with proper, official support for Composer out-of-the-box. Composer helps solve the problem of Drupal being difficult to install and update. With Composer, developers can update Drupal in one step, as Composer will take care of updating all the dependencies (e.g. third party code).

What is better than one-step updates? Zero-step updates. We also showed progress on the Automated Updates Initiative.

Finally, Drupal 8.8 marks significant progress with our API-first Initiative, with several new improvements to JSON:API support in the contributed space, including an interactive query builder called JSON:API Explorer. This work solidifies Drupal's leadership position as a leading headless or decoupled solution.

Drupal 9 will be the easiest major update

A couple stares off into the distant sunrise, which has a '9' imposed on the rising sun.

Next, I gave an update on Drupal 9, as we're just eight months from the target release date. We have been working hard to make Drupal 9 the easiest major update in the last decade. In my keynote at 42:25, I showed how to upgrade your site to Drupal 9.0.0's development release.

Drupal 9 product strategy

I am proud of all the progress we made on Drupal 8. Nevertheless, it's also time to start thinking about our strategic priorities for Drupal 9. With that in mind, I proposed four strategic tracks for Drupal 9 (and three initial initiatives):

A mountain with a Drupal 9 flag at the top. Four strategic product tracks lead to the summit.

Strategic track 1: reduce cost and effort

Users want site development to be low-cost and zero-maintenance. As a result, we'll need to continue to focus on initiatives such as automated updates, configuration management, and more.

Strategic track 2: prioritizing the beginner experience

As we saw in a survey Acquia's UX team conducted, most people have a relatively poor initial impression of Drupal, though if they stick with Drupal long enough, their impression of Drupal grows significantly over time. This unlike any of its competitors, whose impression decreases as experience is gained. Drupal 9 should focus on attracting new users, and decreasing beginners' barriers to entry so they can fall in love with Drupal much sooner.

A graph that shows how Drupal is perceived by beginners, intermediate users and expert users.
Beginners struggle with Drupal while experts love Drupal.
A graph that shows how Drupal, WordPress, AEM and Sitecore are perceived by beginners, intermediate users and experts.
Drupal's sentiment curve goes in the opposite direction of WordPress', AEM's and Sitecore's. This presents both a big challenge and opportunity for Drupal.

We also officially launched the first initiative on this track; a new front-end theme for Drupal called "Olivero". This new default theme will give new users a much better first impression of Drupal, as well as reflect the modern backend that Drupal sports under the hood.

Strategic track 3: drive the Open Web

As you may know, 1 out of 40 websites run on Drupal. With that comes a responsibility to help drive the future of the Open Web. By 2022-2025, 4 billion new people will join the internet. We want all people to have access to the Open Web, and as a result should focus on accessibility, inclusiveness, security, privacy, and interoperability.

A person dressed in a space suit is headed towards a colorful vortex with a glowing Druplicon at the center.

Strategic track 4: be the best structured data engine

A slide that makes the point that Drupal needs to manage more diverse content and integrate with more different platforms.

We've already seen the beginnings of a content explosion, and will experience 300 billion new devices coming online by 2030. By continuing to make Drupal a better and better content repository with a flexible API, we'll be ready for a future with more content, more integrations, more devices, and more channels.

An overview of the four proposed Drupal 9 strategic product tracks

Over the next six months, we'll be opening up these proposed tracks to the community for discussion, and introducing surveys to define the 10 inaugural initiatives for Drupal 9. So far the feedback at DrupalCon Amsterdam has been very positive, but I'm looking forward to much more feedback!

Growing sponsored contributions

In a previous blog post, Balancing Makers and Takers to scale and sustain Open Source, I covered a number of topics related to organizational contribution. Around 1:19:44, my keynote goes into more details, including interviews with several prominent business owners and corporate contributors in the Drupal community.

You can find the different interview snippet belows:

  • Baddy Sonja Breidert, co-founder of 1xINTERNET, on why it is important to help convert Takers become Makers.
  • Tiffany Farriss, CEO of Palantir, on what it would take for her organization to contribute substantially more to Drupal.
  • Mike Lamb, Vice President of Global Digital Platforms at Pfizer, announcing that we are establishing the Contribution Recognition Committee to govern and improve Drupal's contribution credit system.

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who attended Drupalcon Amsterdam and contributed to the event's success. I'm always amazed by the vibrant community that makes Drupal so unique. I'm proud to showcase the impressive work of contributors in my presentations, and congratulate all of the hardworking people that are crucial to building Drupal 8 and 9 behind the scenes. I'm excited to continue to celebrate our work and friendships at future events.

A word cloud of all the individuals who contributed to Drupal 8.8.
Thanks to the 641 individuals who worked on Drupal 8.8 so far.
A word cloud of all the organizational contributors who contributed to Drupal 8.8.
Thanks to the 243 different organizations who contributed to Drupal 8.8 to date.

Acquia to receive majority investment from Vista Equity Partners

Acquia partners with Vista Equity Partners

Today, we announced that Acquia has agreed to receive a substantial majority investment from Vista Equity Partners. This means that Acquia has a new investor that owns more than 50 percent of the company, and who is invested in our future success. Attracting a well-known partner like Vista is a tremendous validation of what we have been able to achieve. I'm incredibly proud of that, as so many Acquians worked so hard to get to this milestone.

Our mission remains the same

Our mission at Acquia is to help our customers and partners build amazing digital experiences by offering them the best digital experience platform.

This mission to build a digital experience platform is a giant one. Vista specializes in growing software companies, for example, by providing capital to do acquisitions. The Vista ecosystem consists of more than 60 companies and more than 70,000 employees globally. By partnering with Vista and leveraging their scale, network and expertise, we can greatly accelerate our mission and our ability to compete in the market.

For years, people have rumored about Acquia going public. It still is a great option for Acquia, but I'm also happy that we stay a private and independent company for the foreseeable future.

We will continue to direct all of our energy to what we have done for so long: provide our customers and partners with leading solutions to build, operate and optimize digital experiences. We have a lot of work to do to help more businesses see and understand the power of Open Source, cloud delivery and data-driven customer experiences.

We'll keep giving back to Open Source

This investment should be great news for the Drupal and Mautic communities as we'll have the right resources to compete against other solutions, and our deep commitment to Drupal, Mautic and Open Source will be unchanged. In fact, we will continue to increase our current level of investment in Open Source as we grow our business.

In talking with Vista, who has a long history of promoting diversity and equality and giving back to its communities, we will jointly invest even more in Drupal and Mautic. We will:

  • Improve the "learnability of Drupal" to help us attract less technical and more diverse people to Drupal.
  • Sponsor more Drupal and Mautic community events and meetups.
  • Increase the amount of Open Source code we contribute.
  • Fund initiatives to improve diversity in Drupal and Mautic; to enable people from underrepresented groups to contribute, attend community events, and more.

We will provide more details soon.

I continue in my role

I've been at Acquia for 12 years, most of my professional career.

During that time, I've been focused on making Acquia a special company, with a unique innovation and delivery model, all optimized for a new world. A world where a lot of software is becoming Open Source, and where businesses are moving most applications into the cloud, where IT infrastructure is becoming a metered utility, and where data-driven customer experiences make or break business results.

It is why we invest in Open Source (e.g. Drupal, Mautic), cloud infrastructure (e.g. Acquia Cloud and Site Factory), and data-centric business tools (e.g. Acquia Lift, Mautic).

We have a lot of work left to do to help businesses see and understand the power of Open Source. I also believe Acquia is an example for how other Open Source companies can do Open Source right, in harmony with their communities.

The work we do at Acquia is interesting, impactful, and, in a positive way, challenging. Working at Acquia means I have a chance to change the world in a way that impacts hundreds of thousands of people. There is nowhere else I'd want to work.

Thank you to our early investors

As part of this transaction, Vista will buy out our initial investors. I want to provide a special shoutout to Michael Skok (North Bridge Venture Partners + Underscore) and John Mandile (Sigma Prima Ventures). I fondly remember Jay Batson and I raising money from Michael and John in 2007. They made a big bet on me — at the time, a college student living in Belgium when Open Source was everything but mainstream.

I'm grateful for the belief and trust they had in me and the support and mentorship they provided the past 12 years. The opportunity they gave me will forever define my professional career. I'm thankful for their support in building Acquia to what it is today, and I am thrilled about what is yet to come.

Stay tuned for great things ahead! It's a great time to be an Acquia customer and Drupal or Mautic user.