You may not have noticed, but Drupal.org has rolled out full distribution packaging support on Install profile project pages. What this means is that now we can host complete distro downloads (including 3rd party libraries) directly on Drupal.org. No longer do we have to download Drupal core, download a Profile, download all required contrib modules and libraries (or use Drush Make like a sane individual to manage all of that). At this point you might be saying, "Big deal, so now there is an archive on Drupal.org." At first glance it might seem that way, but what we have effectively done is bring it all back to Drupal.org.
Before the upgrade, each distribution had its own product sites and workflows for building the final downloadable. There was no consistency. If you found a profile you wanted to use, you would have to go to another website to find the download and it made for a very disjointed experience. Distributions very often target folks that are NOT Drupal folks. Industry specific solutions provided by distributions draw from a bigger pool than within the Drupal community, and the experience was very confusing. Now, when you go to an Profile project page, if the owners have configured fit correctly, the link/download on the main page will contain a complete package that someone can download and install. One step. Easy peasy.
This came together by funding through the maintainers of some the more popular distributions, including Phase2 Technology, Acquia, NodeOne, Pantheon and Lullabot and was implemented in transparent community fashion by Derek Wright (dww), Chad Philips (hunmonk) and Michael Prashun (mikey_p) of 3281d Consulting.
In addition to providing the downloadable distribution on Drupal.org, this now sets up distro maintainers to provide a more unified support experience. Since we can now fully use Profile project pages, it also makes sense to utilize issue queues and Drupal.org git structures at all points in the process allowing distro maintainers to be better equipped to incorporate community feedback and contributions.
This first step to get distributions hosted directly on Drupal.org puts many of the pieces together to effectively manage the release and builds of these distributions, but our work is not yet done. We hope to soon support -dev releases of profiles and we also hope that the work being done here will drive a more consistent use of Drush Make in the build process allowing for a simplified build process and consistency across distributions. Currently each owner has their own magic potion for how they manage development of the distro and we hope that in ironing out the kinks of packaging and deployment we can come to some consensus on how to build for development as well. This consistency will be another benefit for those that wish to provide community contributions to the distros.
Read more about this in the community announcement on Drupal.org