60: Meet Hernâni Borges de Freitas: Drupal at scale

Hernâni Borges de Freitas, a Technical Consultant at Acquia, specialises in "Doing lots of things with Drupal at scale: training and helping people go the right direction in Drupal. Acquia is bringing Drupal to different markets and perspectives, to big companies who want to use it to achieve better results. We make sure they go in the right direction. When they choose Drupal, we help make sure they choose the right solution, adapted to their needs, and that can grow with their business, instead of some closed solution that dies after a while."

Drupal then and now

Hernâni spent 10 years doing custom PHP applications from scratch, then moved to Drupal at Vodafone and has never gone back. When he first looked at Drupal 5, his first thought was, "That interface could be better," but, "It's a totally different story if you start today. The interface is much better and the learning curve is less steep. Drupal now is a completely different game; you have a lot more people working on it, contributed modules are much higher quality. Big companies are using Drupal now, which it wasn't really ready for back then. The community contributes a lot more now and at a faster pace."

On Drupal at scale

"The requirements that big organisations look for in Drupal are different and harder to achieve than the ones you might look for when building a small website, so a lot of thought and direction needs to go into them. The combined needs of these groups has put Drupal in an interesting place, "it is both flexible, customisable, and really scalable.

"The biggest competitive strength of Drupal is that different companies are all driving it in the same direction," and contributing back to the project. "Most companies that customise closed-source software never contribute back or share their work with anyone. They don't even share with other companies that are not competition to leverage their efforts. So having everyone driving Drupal to a good spot helps to drive a better product. Companies also understand that it is a really good way to recruit the best talent in Drupal. Making what you do visible to the community is one of the best decisions you can make."

On working at Acquia

"I am lucky. I have a job that is uncommon: It is really uncommon to have a different challenge every week, a different client every week ... and getting to work in totally different industries with totally different requirements and expectations, moving from governments, to universities, to media companies. Despite all that, you can help them: the technological and business problems are things you know and can solve, leveraging your previous experiences.

"I have never seen a place where people love to work for the company so much. I think the key is that people have a lot of freedom and a lot of responsibility at the same time. This drives them to be passionate about what they are doing. When you work for a startup, you usually feel you have more ownership of what you do. You feel that whatever you do has more impact. At Acquia it's interesting because even though we're a small company, we're always working with big corporations," so you have to be aware of both mindsets.

On being 'hernani'

Hernâni says his Drupal.org username is hernani, "because it's a really weird name and I couldn't change it."