Dries Buytaert, Drupal co-developer and project lead, has co-founded a software company, Acquia, to offer commercially-supported distribution and services of Drupal’s popular open source platform. 

The company was formally announced this week at DrupalCon Boston—a gathering of Drupal users which included representatives from Fast Company and Popular Science magazines, both Drupal customers.

Acquia’s Drupal distribution project is an “essential step in the maturation of the Drupal project,” according to Buytaert, offering what Acquia director of product marketing Bryan House calls “the innovation and value of open-source software” with “the reliability of product-company backing.” According to Acquia’s Web site, the company saw that Drupal had achieved a “critical mass” in the market, making Acquia’s development timely.

The distribution service (which the company calls “Carbon”) will be available through an annual subscription along with Acquia’s correlating update notification system (called “Spokes”). House says subscriptions will be sold on a per-server basis and will cost between $500 and $5,000. It’s comparable, he says, to Red Hat and Ubuntu’s commercially-supported distributions of operating system Linux.

According to House, publishers like Fast Company and Popular Science may not choose to switch to an Acquia-supported model if they’ve already customized their own systems, but Drupal users can benefit from Acquia’s testing and scalability developments. Others may want to “upgrade” to Carbon for the technical support, notifications, and other support.

House says Drupal’s popularity among publishers—and other users, of course—may increase with a product company behind the system. Carbon and Spokes are slated to be available in the second half of this year.