Drupal enjoys rocketing growth

Commercial vendor Acquia, community both strong, vibrant

While Red Hat remains the poster child for open source success stories, at least in the eyes of the business world, Drupal vendor Acquia has quietly been enjoying phenomenal growth and accolades of its own.

The Burlington, MA-based startup has hired over 50 new employees since the start of the year, and plans to hire at least 50 more in the third quarter alone, according to a tweet from CTO and co-founder Dries Buytaert this morning.

The Drupal content management system is one of the most popular CMS in the world today and, like competing platforms Joomla! and WordPress, is open source. Acquia is the commercial vendor of Drupal, which Buytaert co-founded in 2007.

In the ensuing four years, Acquia has picked up $38.5 million in venture cap funding and has well over 2,000 customers. Not only does Acquia provide the usual sort of support for Drupal deployments, but it also hosts websites on its Drupal Gardens service, and provides elastic Managed Cloud hosting services.

Meanwhile, the Drupal community has done spectacularly well, too. The non-profit Drupal Association, started in 2006, has become one of the largest open source communities in the world.

"We have supported the Drupal community in its exponential growth from 70,000 members to over 800,000 and from 700 committers to over 18,000. And we are just getting started," Buytaert wrote in a blog entry this week.

There are some changes coming for the Drupal Association, though; that same blog from Buytaert was also announcing that Executive Director Jacob Redding will be stepping down from that role later this year. According to Buytaert, this was an expected transition move and the Board of Directors is already working to locate a suitable candidate for the job.

"This leaves us with a tremendous opportunity ahead. We are now seeking someone to help lay the foundation for our next stage of growth. Someone to help drive us to become the largest Open Source non-profit organization," Buytaert wrote.

And it's not like they're doing bad now. The Association has a $3 million operating budget and eight full-time employees. Buytaert wants to push the organization up to a $10 million annual budget.

Drupal is not by any means the only open source success story, but the strength of its community and the success of its commercial ecosystem should not be ignored. Even as the role of Linux may shift a bit in an increasingly cloud-dominated world, the role of CMS software will likely remain the same--even expanding to accommodate for an explosion of mobile platforms.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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