Acquia Expands Beta Testing of Commercial Drupal

At the Drupalcon Boston conference back in March, Acquia, the Andover, MA, startup formed as a commercial home for the open-source Drupal social publishing system, showed off a demonstration version of its nascent product, code named “Carbon.” A select group of beta users have been testing Carbon for some time, and today Acquia vice president of marketing Jeff Whatcott announced via the company’s blog that Acquia is expanding its beta program.

The company is starting by handing out 100 beta invitations to readers of TechCrunch, and will also give beta accounts to attendees of Drupalcon Szeged 2008, a Drupal community conference that began today in Szeged, Hungary. Thereafter, the company will register “hundreds of people each week” for the Carbon beta test and will eventually add everyone who has requested access to the software through Acquia’s website.

Whatcott explained that the company is rationing access to Carbon because it doesn’t have enough support staff to provide “high quality responsive support” to an unlimited group of beta testers. He said the company is on schedule to release the full version of Carbon “this fall.”

Drupal is the content management system behind thousands of websites, including the sites of major publications such as Linux Journal and The Onion. Many Web publishers prefer it to competing open source publishing systems such as WordPress and Joomla because users have written thousands of free plug-in modules that handle both basic features such as commenting and RSS feeds and advanced feature such as shopping carts and multimedia hosting.

Carbon is a version of the Drupal 6 core software, including selected user-contributed modules, that comes with access to Spokes, Acquia’s Web-based support and update notification system. There’s moderate excitement around Carbon and Spokes because commercial support for Drupal could make it easier for corporate organizations to adopt the publishing system for their websites, similar to the way that many enterprises choose Red Hat’s version of Linux or Sun’s version of MySQL over free, non-commercial distributions.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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4 responses to “Acquia Expands Beta Testing of Commercial Drupal”

  1. CN says:

    This shift from open source to a trialware/shareware ethos (i.e. you get it for free, but, you pay for support) worries me a lot.

    Is it because open source only works up to a point ? or is it that there was an inability to manage and harness the huge drupal community in a smarter way?

    Because the majority of the core developers behind Drupal are now working for Acquia full time now, I can see a shift of Drupal users across to Carbon, which is understandable. It is also a pity, because it means Drupal will essentially lose the open source spirit and vitality that has brought Drupal as a project to where it is today.

    Why would a contributor to Drupal submit a patch, bug fix, idea for improvement to an existing module, when they can simply copy and modify the existing module, give it a new name and release it as their own…charging for support?

    So I tend to disagree with the “exciting times in the Drupal World!” tone of the Carbon launch….I’m more worried that it is “exciting times for the venture capitalists and shareholders of acquia!”…who own Carbon and all the products Acquia comes up with.

  2. abi says:

    This is crap, if you are going with open source keep your product open source thsi make nosense of saying oh we have commercial version too, why dont you use that ?

    we have made our name and frame using opensource and community hard work of so many developers who contribuitted back to community answer for them is on your face.

  3. Kieran Lal says:

    Acquia released it’s open source GPL distribution Acquia Drupal today.

    There is no trial/shareware. CN knows this, as it’s been explained clearly in our FAQ and in many responses to his posts.

    Check out

    If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    Kieran Lal
    Drupal community adventure guide