92: Meet Jeff Beeman, Embedded Drupal Consultant

Jeff Beeman, Acquia Professional Services consultant, talks about how far Drupal has come in the last 8 years, what it's like to be on a team of people specialised in joining other teams, and the satisfaction of making Drupal really sing when it counts.

This interview was recorded in March, 2013 in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Life changing moment - Hello Drupal!

While Jeff was working at Arizona State University as a front end developer, a Wordpress blog needed expansion beyond what it could handle at the time, "We went looking around, and I happened to try out Drupal." He describes discovering Drupal 4.7 as a "life-changing and eye-opening moment" when he "realised what a content management system was. I don't think I ever understood [before] that that kind of thing could exist." :-)

Drupal then and now

"In Drupal 4.7 building forms, creating custom content types, and things like that required writing a lot of code. And now Drupal 7 is so incredibly powerful. With the suite of tools that you have out of the box and from contrib. [the contributed module repository], you can do a lot more with it without ever writing code."

What Jeff and Acquia PS Do (really well!)

"The enterprise space typically deals with lots of tricky and complex use cases that can be hard to turn into technical requirements. In our role as Professional Services, a lot of what we're helping people do is succeed at implementing hard-to-solve problems with Drupal, and ideally in the simplest way. Helping to distill complex business process into tools that are useful inside of Drupal."

"We help clients take their general idea of what their site should be, and we help them translate that into Drupal architecture with a roadmap on how they might build out the solution." Since Acquia does not build websites, the PS team also adds value by "communicating this months-long process of turning vague requirements into an actual Drupal architecture, taking that to a partner and helping them be successful implementing that solution."

Embedded Drupalists

"Because of what we do in Professional Services, sometimes we're disconnected from the company a little bit. The approach we take on projects is that we are getting embedded in someone's team. I think that's one of the biggest values we bring: All of the people on the team are the type of person who walks into a situation and immediately tries to be a part of the team."

Job Satisfaction

"All of us are so passionate about solving a problem well." Jeff gets a lot of satisfaction from "I guess you would consider them more minor, but frequent successes. Helping a client with their site that's performing terribly, for example, or keeps getting hacked. Being able to drop into a situation, quickly assess it, and help them turn around a bad situation into a great one is always really rewarding. Being able to take a site that's performing very slowly and turn it into something where the web servers are barely noticing any load – that kind of thing is always really rewarding."