CMI fundraising update

Drupal is in an interesting place right now. For the last few months I've been saying that we have all the pressures of a large commercial software project with none of the resources. This summer I went to a few general open source conferences (as opposed to Drupal-specific ones) and it was really interesting to notice that most of the big open source projects today have a major commercial entity pushing them forward. Ubuntu has Canonical, who fund 100+ engineers full time, in addition to a small community management team. MongoDB has 10gen, Fedora has RedHat, Firefox has the Mozilla Foundation and the Mozilla Corporation. There is of course the plethora of projects from Google.

Drupal doesn't have anything like this, and I think most of us would agree that this is for the best, however it also means that we have special challenges when it comes to core development. One of the biggest problems the initiative leads have faced in the Drupal 8 cycle is resourcing - we have no idea how many hours of dev time we will ever have and this makes planning what we can get done extremely difficult. People come and go as their jobs allow, and as they are replaced we spend valuable hours re-training the new people who show up in their place. If this were a commercial software project, we would just hire five people to plan and build a configuration management system (and in many ways this is essentially what Acquia has done around Spark.) However Drupal is not commercial software, and while it's nice maintaining our inependence from a corporate overlord, it means we have to figure out how to sustainably fund development in other ways.

CMI fundraising results

When I accepted the role of configuration management initiative lead, I made sure I was going to have time to do it. NodeOne (now Wunderkraut) graciously agreed to give me 50% of my billable hours towards core dev. This contribution, along with their incredible flexibility with my schedule so I could attend events, gave me a great start with planning and getting the first CMI patch committed to core. However, when I left NodeOne and returned to the US, I had a very hard time juggling travel, freelancing, CMI, and maintaining some sort of life. People like sun and alexpott started getting more involved in this period which was great, but my absence was causing things to get held up way longer than they should have been, and I was starting to fall behind on the development that was going on.

So I decided to try a fundraising drive. In July I began approaching companies and people in the community to make the case that funding a core development initiative is a valuable place for them to invest. With this money I could work on CMI full time for a while and really give it the focus it needed. After a couple initial successes, I decided to announce the project publicly and really drive it for a while.

The results have been better than I ever could have hoped. Not only did I reach my funding goal, I surpassed it. This, combined with some solid budgeting, is now going to allow me to be working full time on CMI at least until code freeze in April, and possibly beyond.

The most amazing thing to me about this fundraising is how well it represents the diversity of our community. While its true that the bulk of the funding comes from several large corporate donors, there have also been a great many contributions from smaller Drupal shops, as well as $2,500 in individual donations raised through ChipIn. These donations have come from all over the world, not just the US, representing our international diversity as well. Watching this happen has been an amazing and humbling experience.

Thank you

At some point I will be writing several blog posts about the fundraising process and tips for others who would like to raise funds for their project. Right now though, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank these companies that have contributed to CMI:

Acquia
Riot Games
Bluehost
Dennis Publishing
Pantheon
WebEnabled
Reload.dk
Annertech
Comm-press GmbH
Undpaul.de

The following individuals also donated to the CMI Chipin:

Shannon Vettes
Nick Veenhof
Aleš Rebec
Cameron Tod
Guy Oron
Jesper Vingborg Andersen
Kjartan Jørgensen Mannes
Robert Ristroph
Ben Jeavons
Nico Zdunich
Erno Zsemlye
Tamás Pintér
Colin Joy
Dave Reid
Jeff Geerling
Mohsen Vakilian
Cameron Eagans
Rebecca White
Fabian Franz
Pieter Frenssen
Richard Lampitt
Matthias Walti
Dan Muzyka

I would also like to give special thanks to Michael Meyers and Chris Strahl of the Large Scale Drupal team at Acquia for helping me draft funding proposals, run test pitches, and putting me in front of some of Drupal's biggest companies. More huge thanks to Emma Jane Hogbin for taking it on herself to ping a huge swath of hosting providers and interface with them for me during DrupalCon Munich.

Recently I met someone and I told them I was a software engineer and they asked me who I worked for. I didn't really know what to say, but as I thought about it, the answer is I work for all of you, the Drupal community. We have three weeks until feature freeze and four months after that until code freeze, and thanks to you I can spend it all focusing on making the configuration management system as solid and awesome as humanly possible. Thanks for your confidence and trust, it means a great deal.

Comments

The confidence and trust has been well earned.
Keep up the great work.

Huge thanks for all your hard work. CMI is a huge win!

Good news for everybody. This is going to be great :-)

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I wrote two chapters of this book - Drupal 7 Module Development and I co-wrote it with Matt Butcher, Larry Garfield, Matt Farina, Ken Rickard, and John Wilkins. Go buy a copy!
I am the owner of the configuration management initiative for Drupal 8. You can follow this work at the dashboard on groups.drupal.org.
I work at Lullabot!. If you don't know who Lullabot is then you haven't been around in the Drupal world long have you? Come check us out!