Today Acquia has announced the beta launch of a commercially supported distribution of Drupal. The first 100 visitors to register here will receive beta accounts, and those after will be atop the list for the next round of invites.
The release is essentially a hardened distribution of Drupal, complemented with technical support and network service offerings. Code named Carbon for now, the package includes a select set of community contributed modules alongside the Drupal core. Acquia has taken the task of pre-testing, reviewing, and comparing all community contributed modules to offer a set of the most relevant and reliable contributions. Site administrators are notified of updates to Carbon modules through the network, code named Spokes. The system differentiates between feature, bug fix, and security updates, and informs users of compatibility issues or other dependencies amongst different modules.
Drupal is an open source content management system comprised of the Drupal core and about 2000 contributed modules. Each module is a separate open source project, specialized for certain features and functionality within a web site. However with so many contributions from the community it becomes difficult to discern the most useful, reliable, compatible, and recent modules from the rest. Acquia looks manage this complexity by releasing the first commercial version of Drupal, taking a position similar to RedHat in the Linux community.
The Drupal platform was created in 2001 by Acquia CTO Dries Buytaert. It was built on PHP and MySQL, with the purpose of giving those with minimal programming skills the ability to create interactive websites. It is currently used by over a quarter million people, but until now there has been no commercial entity to centralize open source development efforts. Acquia hopes to fill this void. The final version is set for commercial release in mid September.