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Acquia (news, site), the commercial open source company offering Drupal Web CMS (news, site) support, products and services, has been busy solidifying its position as the first option everyone thinks of any time the words "cloud" and "Drupal" are used together.

Drupal PaaS: New and Improved

About eighteen months ago, Acquia began offering a fully managed cloud-hosted Drupal platform-as-as-service (PaaS) built on top of Amazon Web Services (AWS). The solution provides a highly available run-time environment for Drupal 7 that reduces the complexity of deploying and managing a configuration appropriate for large and constantly available sites. Features such as load balancing, caching, clustering and many others are pre-configured and customers get access to Acquia’s 24x7 enterprise support allowing users to focus on content delivery. The offering has been popular. The PaaS consists of over 600 servers to support more than 140 customers and serves over 2 billion requests per month.

Acquia originally named the solution “Acquia Hosting,” but the company felt the term 'hosting' had too much baggage. Customers had existing concepts of what 'hosting' meant, and, it wasn’t platform-as-a-service. The company announced it has renamed “Acquia Hosting” to “Acquia Managed Cloud”, which better reflects the services capabilities.

Acquia’s Developer Self-Service PaaS

In addition to renaming the cloud platform, Acquia released a brand new cloud product targeted at developers. The Acquia Dev Cloud is for developers that want all the features of a Drupal PaaS, without the support and guarantees provided with core managed cloud offering.

Acquia’s Dev Cloud is a lower cost, single server version of the Managed Cloud. The solution is targeted at users that build Drupal sites, but don’t require high-availability or support from Acquia to scale and maintain their site. The developer focused PaaS allows users to manage multiple separate sites on a single server, from development and staging to production.

Getting on the Drupal Cloud

Acquia Managed Cloud is available now. Dev Cloud will be available on March 14, 2011 as part of the Acquia Network, the company’s support subscription service. Acquia’s new Developer Subscription package includes access to Dev Cloud, self-service support tools, knowledge base and Acquia Network services including Acquia Search, Mobify and New Relic. Dev Cloud pricing starts at US$ 200 per month.

Drupal Gardens SaaS

Acquia’s platform-as-a-service products aren’t the only Drupal cloud offerings. It also plays a little higher up the infrastructure stack with Drupal Gardens (see our Review of Drupal Gardens). Drupal Gardens is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, which Acquia categorizes an “OpenSaaS.” As of this month, Drupal Gardens is hosting over 40,000 sites in the beta version of the platform.

Drupal Gardens is designed to allow non-technical users to quickly create Drupal sites using a guided point and click interface. Acquia manages all platform and software components allowing users to focus exclusively on content. The SaaS solution is not as flexible as the Managed Cloud PaaS, but the OpenSaaS strategy allows users to easily export their site and move to another environment.

Acquia has just announced that Drupal Gardens is released from beta -- just in time for next week’s DrupalCon.

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Drupal Gardens -- Administrative Interface

Acquia Network Expanded

In addition to all of the activity with cloud solutions, Acquia announced an updated version of Acquia Network. Acquia Network is included in all of Acquia’s other offerings and provides customers:

  • Drupal knowledge base
  • Tools to extend and manage sites such as Acquia Search, Mollom spam blocking, New Relic monitoring, Mobify apps for mobile integration and Visual Website Optimizer
  • Website monitoring and management tools
  • 24x7 access to Acquia support

According to Acquia representatives, the upgrade features a new user experience, several new SaaS offerings from Acquia partners and the release of a draft API specification that will enable third party developers and SaaS product providers to deliver cloud services via the Acquia Network.

Cloud offerings, rebranding and upgraded features, Acquia has certainly been busy in advance of Drupalcon. The company is sure to play up these developments next week in Chicago.