The commercial imperative for investing in Drupal

At the Drupal for marketing event the other evening in london someone asked a question in the Q&A at the end of Robert Castelo's introduction to Drupal (very good session btw) which was along the lines of "where does the money come from for Drupal".

I neatly sidestepped the whole developers doing loads for free bit and explained that from a business perspective investing in Drupal makes commercial sense. I even ventured so far as to say that we have seen a 1000% return on some the investments we have made.

On the surface this seems far fetched however if we look at the simplest of examples we can see that I may have underestimated the commercial returns.

We paid for the biggest chunk of the work that DWW did on the cvs release improvements which have been in use now for a couple of years. It did not cost us much in the scheme of things, since that work was done we have been able to benefit on a daily basis from the improvements across a large team of people.

Supporting underlying infrastructure work makes the entire community more efficient. We use over 100 community modules so could not even being to calculate the savings we have experienced as a result of this small investment. Likewise paying for the server for was extortionately cheap compared to the savings we made as a result of the work done on it.

Yes loads of other people have benefited as well and people have asked why do we step up when others are going to benefit including our competitors, well the answer is simple, we just ignore the benefit to others and see if it makes commercial sense to us.

I am not worried about other people in an altruistic fashion when it comes to investing in drupal. It's nice that it happens and does help us feel that we are doing something good, but if we are looking to make the world a better place then we believe directly supporting organisations means we get to focus where the money gets spent.

In short people need to take a broader view of investing in Drupal for commercial reasons, its not all about just committing modules so that others do a chunk of work for you, its also not an altruistic venture for everyone, there is nothing wrong with investing to get a return.

The better the community works at delivering high quality software the better it is for all of us and specifically the people who invest because they get what they need done. The returns are a hell of a lot better and more guranteed that you can get from any share investment or bank account.