One on One with Dries Buytaert of Acquia
Dries Buytaert is founder and CTO at Acquia. He's the original creator and project lead for the Drupal open source web publishing and collaboration platform. He serves as president of the Drupal Association, a non-profit organization formed to help Drupal flourish. We asked him about the role of open source in content management today.
FCM: Do you think the open source label even matters any more. Have we gotten past that and just look at the software regardless of its type?
DB: Yes, I think the open source label still matters. Organizations need a technology that provides the flexibility and freedom to customize it to their individual needs. Proprietary solutions can be customized but with a high price tag and long lag time. In the open source world, more often than not, plug-ins or customizations you need to build have already been created and are available for use. This is community-powered innovation, something that Drupal is great at and that provides a real benefit compared to proprietary solutions.
FCM: Do you think open source has become too much of a buzz word and lost its meaning?
DB: Open source continues to be a hot topic, but for all the right reasons. Unlike your typical buzz word, it has not lost its meaning--the term "open source" is well defined and well understood by most. Originally, open source often won because of the fact that the software is 'gratis', but increasingly open source wins because it is actually the better technology.
Every day, more and more organizations realize that open source not only can save them a lot of money by eliminating absurdly expensive license fees, they also realize that proprietary alternatives can't compete with the level of innovation that comes from the open source community. The words "open source" grow stronger every day and will continue to do so.
FCM: Does putting a company like Acquia behind Drupal give it more weight than it would have on its own with just a community?
DB: I started Acquia to complement Drupal and to help Drupal get to the next level. Large organizations often worry about the performance, scalability and security of open source applications like Drupal. Acquia helps large organizations adopt Drupal by providing 24x7 support, as well as products and services that help these organizations operate, maintain and scale their Drupal sites. Acquia has contributed to Drupal's growth, especially Drupal's growth in the enterprise.
FCM: What is the relationship of Acquia like with the Drupal Community?
DB: Acquia is a part of the Drupal community. The success of Acquia depends on the success of Drupal. As such, we invest in Drupal a lot. For example, we dedicated 30 percent of our engineering resources to the development of Drupal 7. In addition to that, we also help organize events, contribute to promoting Drupal and provide leadership in various aspects of the project.
FCM: With so many open source CMSs available, why Drupal? What do you think it offers that so many competing products lack?
DB: Drupal is so much more than just a CMS, Drupal is a complete web platform that can be used for multiple use cases like a corporate website, blog, branded marketing sites, Intranet, ecommerce and more. Drupal is gaining popularity in the enterprise due to its flexibility and scalability, CIO's are now realizing that they no longer need to run multiple proprietary solutions on multiple servers with multiple license fees, all their web needs can be consolidated to a single platform Drupal.
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