186: Karma and the journey from consumption to contribution - Drupal in India - 1/2

At Drupal Camp London 2015, I spoke with Piyush Poddar, Director of Drupal Practice at Axelerant. We talked about Piyush's history in Drupal, Drupal as a business-ready solution, India's coming of age in open source culture, and how that is driving business value.


"Drupal really has become a business-ready solution. It allows those of us running businesses or selling solutions to clients to really not think about anything more, just go ahead and use it for production sites–large, huge production sites."

On working in proprietary v open source software: "I've done both. We sued to buy expensive books when we worked on [a proprietary technology], just to know how to do things the right way. Then we realized that it doesn't tell you how to do things the right way, just how to use the software. So best practices, how other folk are doing it, lessons learned, there was nothing there. Nothing to be shared. No platforms. No camps, no events. Now [using Drupal], it's out there. It just depends on you what you wanna grab."

On the Drupal community and the Drupal project: "Solid. Rock solid. It's an awesome project. Without community, I don't know if it would have been so useful. It's an awesome community, but without a project, what would we have been doing? Together, we are doing a wonderful job."

From consumption to contribution in India

Piyush says that it was pretty quiet on the Drupal front until Dries Buytaert, the Drupal Project Lead, visited India in 2011. "A lot of excitement happened. A lot of traction came into the ecosystem. There were a lot of camps in the country."

"The way Drupal started, it was seen as a job-based technology. We were consuming Drupal then. Most folks were looking at Drupal as a job, a 9 to 5 job ... Go to the office, work on a Drupal project, come back, forget about it. But now, companies and individuals have realized that it's not just using Drupal, not just consuming Drupal, but investing in the Drupal ecosystem locally, nationally (and perhaps internationally as well) is where the real value lies. And that's where you're getting good Karma and besides that, it's also about establishing your reputation, your stand, your maturity up in the marketplace. So organizations understood that over the years and a lot of them started that.

I would say the journey is still on. We still need to get to a stage where we can say we are all there. But a lot of companies are participating in domestic [Drupal] Camps and meet-ups in different cities in India, with 300-700 people in each of these meet-ups. I've seen a lot of companies starting to push their developers towards contribution, at times even during their day job. There are companies offering jobs with Drupal contribution as KPIs; Axelerant is one of them. We encourage a lot of contribution in-house," during both busy and less busy times, "And from a profit and loss perspective, we are absolutely fine about that." Axelerant, in fact employs the top Indian contributor to Drupal 8, Hussain Abbas.

Contribution generates business value

I asked Piyush what Axelerant gets back out of encouraging and paying for so much contribution to Drupal.

"Being an IT company, acquiring good talent and retaining them is probably more important than sales itself. There's a lot of business, a lot of leads, a lot of opportunity out there. You can just go grab them, but you have to deliver them and you have to do that constantly. And for that you need a team, you need people who are excited about this thing, who know their stuff, people who are experts. Hiring is a big problem. The two most important things we've don to solve this problem are getting onto Drupal–people love working in Drupal and people love working with companies that are so active in the community. They feel they'll learn more and how to become like Hussain and other [role models]."

"Lately, a lot of clients are asking how active we are in terms of contribution. How mature are we from that perspective. Our Drupal.org Marketplace profile has really helped up a lot for that. We track our references and ask our clients how they came to us. A lot of them tell us that our profile is very strong, enough for them to build the first level of trust and give us the first few projects. I cannot imagine this sort of advantage in a proprietary technology."

"My personal conclusion on that front is that in India we believe a lot in Karma. And what we are seeing is that it's the karma we do is coming back to us already in business, in happiness, in these awesome people that we work with. It's happening."

More on Drupal in India

Guest author dossier

Drupal Camp London 2015 CxO Day presentation

From Consumption to Contribution - Lessons from India

YouTube video

Interview video