The Differences Between Drupal and Acquia DrupalUsers of Drupal will be quite familiar with Acquia Drupal; with a few exceptions in mind, it practically is Drupal. Now, that in itself is challenging to explain to someone new to Drupal and/or Acquia, and this is why Acquia's naming decision was questionable. There is practically no distinction now. There are differences, but we must make it clear that this is Acquia Drupal and not Drupal.
A Better BeginningThe first big difference with Acquia Drupal is the inclusion of additional community modules that extend the CMS's out-of-the-box capabilities. Building a blog or a wiki can now be accomplished faster than ever before. House told CMSWire that the company had initially considered around 20 - 30 modules to include into Acquia Drupal, and they all represent some of the best that the Drupal community has to offer. The reasoning behind the inclusion of more modules is to allow a site developer to have a better starting point from which to build a site -- no more hunting around for the basic modules to get things like custom content types created. Truth be told, there are quite a few modules that many experienced Drupal users typically install by default (e.g. CCK), and this change simply adds those frequently used modules. In addition, Acquia also licensed a few fresh themes to be available to users from the get-go. Now, all that is great, but let's get to the real reason why someone would be interested in Acquia Drupal.
Commercial Support with the Acquia NetworkThe quintessential difference between Drupal and Acquia Drupal is the Acquia Network. Its purpose is to help users and organizations in situations where support is required. Acquia would tell us that it is a significant part of "completing the Drupal experience." The Acquia Network is the culmination of community support, ticket-based support, email and telephone support, up-time monitoring, spam blocking and documentation all packaged into one tightly knit interface that allows users to stay on top of their Acquia Drupal sites. However, it doesn't end there. The Acquia Network also acts as an "operations portal" that allows users to manage Acquia Drupal sites and connect with support. Think of it as the cPanel of Acquia Drupal site management and support. It is a way to get a glimpse of a user's Acquia Drupal sites.
The Acquia Network Management Interface
Now, all this comes with a price. As it stands, there are five separate packages that offer different support options -- as one would expect, the more a user pays, the more support outlets become available. House told CMSWire that Acquia wanted to make the product available to customers of various types and budgets. The company is hoping that the pricing scheme will work in their favor, but we will touch on the issue of pricing in a little while.
Spam Be GoneAnother time consuming part of content management is dealing with those pesky spammers, but Acquia decided to solve that issue as well. Acquia Drupal includes Mollom, a spam protection service developed by Dries Buytaert, by default. There are two options -- limited and full -- for spam blocking service, but each package offers the spam protection service. Unfortunately, it's not yet known if it is more effective than other solutions like Akismet, but perhaps its ties with Dries and Drupal will make it a more reliable option in the long run. Check out our previous coverage about Mollom to learn more.
Acquia Partner ProgramFinally, House wanted to make it clear that Acquia does not want to build sites for customers: "It is not our business model, we are not going to build sites. We don't want to compete with Drupal ecosystem." House was likely referring to the companies, developers and users who benefit from creating and developing solutions while utilizing the Drupal framework -- the so-called "Drupal ecosystem." Smart move -- it wouldn't be a wise idea to upset the organizations and developers who already provide these services and, in some cases, make a living doing that. So, Acquia opted to go with a partner program that will benefit both Acquia and its partners while keeping business fair.
The Acquia Partner Program
The creation of this partner program will allow Acquia's partners to better provide solutions for customers while ensuring a mutual and beneficial relationship to all parties involved. Services like marketing, presentations, white papers and more will be handled by Acquia, depending on the partnership program selected. There are four different packages offered for the partner program: * Silver: Two basic developer subscriptions, round robin lead referral system, 7 day lead exclusivity and community sales training included. * Gold: Two standard developer subscriptions, targeted referral system, 60 day lead exclusivity and community sales training included. * Platinum: Four professional developer subscriptions, targeted referral system, 90 day lead exclusivity, joint marketing programs and private sales training included. * Diamond: Eight professional developer subscriptions, targeted referral system, unlimited lead exclusivity, joint marketing programs and private sales training included. More information about Acquia's partner program can be found here.
Acquia Network Pricing and AvailabilityAcquia doesn't stand to gain anything through selling Drupal Acquia. The money comes from support, and that is what Acquia is selling. Businesses and developers need support -- getting information from a community forum or IRC chat might be worthwhile for some projects, but for time-critical projects, it is hardly reliable or efficient. Acquia Network subscriptions come in a variety of flavors with as many users and developers in mind as possible. Here is the breakdown of each package:
Community* Introductory Price: Free * Starting Price: US$ 150 * Support Access: Forums
Standard* Introductory Price: US$ 500 * Starting Price: US$ 800 * Support Access: Forums and ticket system
Professional* Introductory Price: US$ 1,900 * Starting Price: US$ 2,500 * Support Access: Forums, ticket system and email
Enterprise* Introductory Price: US$ 4,300 * Starting Price: US$ 5,000 * Support Access: forums, ticket system, email, chat and telephone
Elite* Introductory Price: Negotiable * Starting Price: Negotiable * Support Access: Forums, ticket system, email, chat and telephone
The Acquia Network Packages
Acquia Drupal can be downloaded for free -- all included software is licensed under the GNU Public License. Furthermore, all beneficial contributions will be rolled back into the Drupal open source project. The Acquia team is taking advantage of the complexity that Drupal users have become accustomed to. Drupal is certainly not the easiest Web CMS to adjust to, and that is why many people shy away from it.