Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

Building a professional services practice in open source

Jenn Sramek (Acquia), Mark Sakurada (Acquia)
1:45pm2:25pm Thursday, May 11, 2017
Level: Non-technical

Who is this presentation for?

  • Those with challenges with the adoption of their open source project
  • Those who want to sell open source consulting services
  • Those who have an open source professional services business and want strategies to scale

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic understanding of one or more common structures of professional services companies and professional services practices serving open source tools specifically

What you'll learn

  • Understand the ecosystem surrounding open source projects and learn how to support their success
  • Explore the phases and iterations you might experience before arriving at a sustainable or systematic professional services business in open source
  • Learn the benefits of engagement with different types of open source stakeholders within the community and how people, processes, and tools may change as an open source business evolves


Drupal is an open source web content management system (WCMS) that began as a one-person effort in a college dormitory. In the 15 years since, it has grown to compete with the most popular proprietary tools on the market and power some of the largest sites on the web.

Drupal’s initial adoption was organic, often chosen as a free alternative to expensive CMS tools to build nonprofit or low-budget websites. Eventually, some professional services companies formed around the CMS, deciding to use it in a dedicated fashion for all of their solutions. Around 2005, as Drupal gained momentum, ideas began to percolate about creating a different kind of company around Drupal, giving it greater legitimacy and providing the growing Drupal market with a large service provider with external funding. In 2007, Acquia was born.

Early on, well-funded marketing efforts allowed Acquia to serve as a funnel for anyone interested in using Drupal to get information and expertise, as well as referrals to smaller companies that could do project implementation. Now, nearly 10 years on, Drupal has a substantial share of the WEM/WCMS market, powering more than a million websites and involving more than 30 thousand contributors and millions of users. That shift came about largely due to the positioning and work of professional services teams.

Drawing on their real-world experience, Jenn Sramek and Mark Sakurada explain how professional services teams can support the expansion and adoption of open source projects at the enterprise level, around the world.

Topics include:

  • An overview of the ecosystem surrounding the open source Drupal WCMS and the role the community played in its early success
  • The founding and evolution of a professional services practice through consulting, delivery, partnering, and strategy phases
  • Observations about selling services in a product company
  • The role that giving back/contribution has played in the latest developments in Drupal and PS in open source
Photo of Jenn Sramek

Jenn Sramek


Jenn Sramek is a senior partner delivery manager at Acquia, where she applies her 20 years of project management experience to support Acquia partners in creating their own Drupal centers of excellence. Jenn has been involved with the Drupal community since 2006 and has helped to bring more than 150 businesses and organizations into the open source Drupal CMS. When working with Drupal, Jenn’s focus is on guiding clients toward the simplest way to achieve their business objectives and enable the highest return on investment. Her specialties include enterprise, multi-agency projects, and government projects and the areas of project discovery and planning. In her spare time, she serves as the board president for the Haight Ashbury Food Program in San Francisco, providing food for those in need since 1983.

Photo of Mark Sakurada

Mark Sakurada


Mark Sakurada is a senior sales solutions manager at Acquia, where he works with enterprise clients to deliver modern robust web experiences in Drupal. Mark leverages his platform and development experience to architect and optimize large-scale enterprise Drupal installations as an infrastructure and integration specialist. He has worked professionally as a developer, engineer, and consultant in information technology for 20 years. Since 2007, he has focused on the implementation of open source software solutions and has been involved in a number of developing initiatives.