Open SourceDrupal Development Proliferates as Version 7 Nears

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Getting the next version of Drupal, the popular open source content management system, is top of mind for Drupal creator Dries Buytaert. But speaking at the Drupalcon conference this week, Buytaert noted that Drupal 7 still requires additional work, with more than a hundred bugs remaining until Drupal 7 is ready.

Yet that’s not stopping work on other efforts to push Drupal development forward.

This week, Acquia, the lead commercial sponsor behind Drupal for which Buytaert serves as co-founder and CTO, announced new training, hosting and distribution efforts — moves that aim to further spread the growing footprint of Drupal deployments while work on Drupal 7 development continues.

One of the key areas where Drupal is expanding is by way of its distributions, versions of the software that include the core application along with specific, contributed modules that together meet certain market needs or use-cases. Buytaert said that there are now at least 19 Drupal distributions available, while his company, Acquia, is now in the process of building its own distribution called Drupal Common, which he described as a social media CMS.

For Buytaert, the distribution approach is one that sets Drupal apart from other open source content management systems like WordPress and Joomla.

“If we’re smart, this could result in breakout growth for Drupal,” Buytaert said.

Overall, Buytaert noted that the current Drupal 6 release has found good success in the market and has increased adoption. According to Buytaert, Drupal now powers 1 percent of all Web sites, with enterprise users including Accenture, Capgemini and IBM, which are now developing projects based on the CMS. Buytaert said he sees the growing usage of Drupal by such large businesses as a great validation for the work that developers have been doing in the project.

Now that Drupal 7 is on the way, Buytaert expects that Drupal adoption will grow. With Drupal 7, Buytaert pointed out that the project has benefited from the open source participation of the community, with more than 6,611 patches having been committed to Drupal 7. Those patches have come from 732 different people contributing to the project, he added.

Moving forward, Buytaert said that once Drupal 7 is released, the focus will shift to Drupal 8, key features of which include configuration management and staging.

From a business perspective, as Drupal has grown, the commercial side of its support from Acquia has grown as well. Acquia CEO Tom Erickson told that 2009 was a fantastic year for Acquia, noting that it now has over 450 customers for its Drupal commercial support services.

Acquia is now also offering training services and has a new hosting partnership for midsized Drupal deployments on Rackspace.

“We’ve also successfully raised money at a time when other companies are not being funded. We have raised $8 million,” he said, referring to last year’s influx of new capital from backers North Bridge Venture Partners and Sigma Partners.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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