Acquia's problem is it does not own Drupal

Submitted by dryer on Wed, 05/23/2018 - 10:32
Acquia logo

Hot on the heels of Adobe's Acquisition of Magento, Dries Buytaert took to the web to word out his criticism of the deal. He ends the note comparing the situation with the Acquia (Drupal corporate sponsor) arch enemy product Adobe Experience Manager:

Unfortunately, Adobe has a history of being "Open Source"-second and not "Open Source"-first. It acquired Day Software in July 2010. This technology was largely made using open source frameworks — Apache Sling, Apache Jackrabbit and more — and was positioned as an open, best-of-breed solution for developers and agile marketers. Most of that has been masked and buried over the years and Adobe's track record with developers has been mixed, at best.
- My thoughts on Adobe buying Magento for $1.68 billion

This is a carefully worded propaganda statement to close off the article with a negative and closed feeling of the ground breaking deal. While this is natural, since Magento is the premier eCommerce partner for Acquia, and this partnership is now in jeopardy - putting adoption of Drupal in the enterprise at risk.

In addition to downplaying Adobe's acquisition of Magento, Buytaert's article also falls short in describing the benefits of Magento as a company versus Acquia and it's Drupal CMS product. In the article it is stated that enterprise companies gravitate towards best-of-breed software, like eCommerce or ad management software. This is inline with SOA and Microservices architectures, where the monolithic architecture of Drupal is not ideal:

Now not all monoliths are bad, but the enterprise market Acquia is steering towards has been taken by storm by the microservices movements. Even Forrester are reporting of "Millennial Architects" that like to architect services from tiny bits and pieces. While analysts at large companies are behind the curve when it comes to web technology trends, but sure enough the use SaaS services and different APIs have exploded since early 2011.
In a world of Microservices is Drupal 8 an undesirable Swiss Army Knife

While it is true that Drupal has only meager online store capabilities compared to established products, it does on the other hand claim to be the jack of all trades on the other hand. Extending the core product to be a fully featured enterprise grade WCMS, Acquia is actively selling the tool also as a mobile backend with Waterwheel and even toying with ideas of using Drupal as an application development platform.

In short the Acquia company ought to focus on making the core product, Drupal, the best in class for the main task it is being used for - content creation and edition. However, this is an area where WordPress continues to be ahead of Drupal. Instead it branches into hosting, value added services, additions, and more. But so far the company has not been able to complete it's IPO desires. Why?

Now there is nothing wrong in providing services, but Acquia building on Drupal is doing so on a commodity Open Source platform that it has no ownership of. This is an asset that Magento had, and was able to build a sustainable Open Source ecosystem based on a product. Whether or not the Adobe acquisition changes that, does not take away this achievement that the Magento crew managed to achieve.