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Acquia Update: Network Services and Drupal Certification

Acquia, Drupal, Carbon Release Acquia presented at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston last week, and Jeff Whatcott, who manned the Acquia stand, writes in a blog entry that most of the corporate types swinging past his booth had no idea what Drupal was.

Acquia's mission, or course, is about changing all that, and making the open source Social Publishing (… as they insist on calling it…) platform a viable Enterprise content management/community product. If you remember, the company told us at Drupalcon Boston in March how they intend to achieve that. The first step consists of professional wrapping of the Drupal product, and will come in the shape of the subscription-based 'Carbon' product. Carbon consists of Drupal 6.x core and about 30 modules, some of which have been developed by the Drupal community and then vetted and tested by Acquia, with a sprinkling of modules developed by the company itself. The result is calculated to be analogous to a Red Hat enterprise subscription; a cast-iron, bug-free and supported version of a community-built product.

The second major product announcement in March was 'Spokes', and is a network service. Spokes will offer subscribers automatic updates, security updates and patches, personalized alerts and other remote services.

We were wondering how things were progressing along these lines, so we talked with Director of Marketing Bryan House, and got a progress report and picked up some details on upcoming products. The good new is that things are on schedule for the announced Fall launch of the company's first products. The (ever-growing) Acquia team is beavering away on building the eCommerce store, on Network Services and on testing and packaging for the Carbon product. We talked about some cool new ideas for Acquia's network services, and about a whole new departure for Acquia: Drupal certification and training.

The Acquia Cloud: Drupal Network Services

There has been much speculation about what Acquia will ultimately do with network services. They already told us about automatic updates, security patches and so on, and Bryan shed some light on other forthcoming features.

Mollom and Caliper

Our own Barb Mosher was wondering what Dries Buytaert was up to earlier this year when he set up Mollom with an old university friend… and now we get to find out.
Mollom is an anti-spam framework which learns from its own community and enables CAPTCHA-free posting for clean content. Definite spam and bot-generated content is rejected. Content which the system deems to be clean is posted without a CAPTCHA challenge. And the remaining content — the 'Maybes' — get issued with a CAPTCHA trap. When false-positives occur and the filter allows spam onto your website, reporting it to Mollom makes the system smarter.

Akismet, the ubiquitous anti-spam system, has suffered some bad press in recent weeks with claims that breaches are becoming more common as bots learn better ways to circumvent it, so the time might be ripe for next-gen anti-spam systems. Mollom is going head-to-head against Defensio in the self-learning anti-spam stakes, so it will be interesting to see how this battle plays out. The technology also enables automatic screening of your website or community for profanity and garbage content, and despite the obvious links to Drupal (there is already a Drupal module), an open API has already seen a Joomla! module developed (Jollum), and a WordPress equivilent is in the works.

And, getting back to the point, Mollom technology will also drive Acquia's network-based Caliper service, which will ” protect the integrity of user comments, forums, and other forms of user generated content”. Given Drupal's community-building credentials, it's a fair assumption that Acquia's customer base will comprise many community website owners with serious user-generated content volume. In which case Caliper/Mollom will be a non-trivial addition to the Acquia package.

Heartbeat

Heartbeat is another utilization of the network service, which will track downtime and offer reports on activity and problems with the website, intranet or whatever you're running off Drupal/Carbon.

OpenCalais - Semantic Web

OpenCalais (news, site) may or may not make it to the dance floor, so to speak. It's an interesting possible utilization of network services which Acquia is playing with and which may or may not make it onto the ticket. Open Calais is some kind of 'auto-tagging' generator with a semantic edge. And… that's about all we know for now. Watch this space.

One final point on the network: as you might expect (if you're a Drupal user), connection to the Acquia network services will be achieved through a couple of module add-ons.

Drupal Certification : Yellow Jersey

We mentioned earlier that Acquia is in the business of making Drupal a viable enterprise software product. Approaching this theme from another angle, the company hope to launch a training and certification structure for the Social Publishing platform. The provisional name for this program is Yellow Jersey (Dries is from the land of Eddy Merckx… and if you have to Google that name to make the connection, shame on you.)

 

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