We’ve started a series getting to know the people who make up FFW, in our opinion, we’ve got the best there is. This week, we’re talking to Drupal Evangelist and FFW Institute for Excellence Director, Ray Saltini. Ray has a background leading projects in public and community service, management, marketing and development. Now he enjoys working with the smartest, most exciting technologies available to build better communities and solutions online and on the ground.
How long have you worked in web development?
I’ve been involved with web development since 1995 when I was invited to participate in a small experiment to see how charities in NYC could begin using the web. By 1997 I was the director of an organization that taught HTML and CSS to teenagers and helped them get technology jobs.
What is it about Drupal that makes it stand out among other CMS options?
There are so many things that make Drupal stand out from other CMS products but there are two extremely significant reasons. Drupal is much more than a CMS, it’s a platform for building web applications. I tell folks that out of the box it is a Content and Community management system and that from there it can be used in an infinite number of ways to turn data into useful information and convey information between people and other systems. Right now Drupal is being used for everything from simple blog sites to highly secure intranet sites, to data exchanges and sophisticated replacements for complex legacy software systems. Drupal is what you need it to be. The second reason has to do with the Drupal community, the open source movement and open source business models. As diverse as individual members and roles are within the Drupal community, together we are a cohesive grouping of people, organizations and economies that are creating new value, opening up new markets, leveling playing fields and advancing innovation, integration and adoption. It’s something I feel very passionate about.
Ray, you’re the brains behind the FFW Center for Excellence. Why do you think ongoing training is important for teams involved in Drupal integration?
Drupal and open source technologies like Symfony and PHP are a constantly moving target and a specialty. No one gets a PhD in PHP. Training is especially important because there are very talented self taught developers and developers with Computer Science degrees who inevitably have significant gaps in their learning. Developers need to focus their learning and practice in these specialties in order to successfully contribute to complex or enterprise Drupal projects. Developers who receive training expand their content understandings and skill sets rapidly and benefit from the experience of our trainers and other learners.
What makes the training at the FFW Center for Excellence different from trainings offered elsewhere?
Videos, books, and issues queues are all essential resources but there is no substitute for being across from someone either in person or in a live online class who has done this before and has the experience and talent to convey their learning to you in a way that is relevant to your immediate objectives and resonates with your own experience. That sets us apart. What also sets us apart is that our focus is not only on teaching but on helping you and everyone in your organization adopt a new technology. Lifecycle technology adoption is a very steep and bumpy curve for individuals and organizations who don’t lay down careful plans long before the first line of code is committed. We help people and organizations smooth out that curve and adopt open source technology more rapidly and more efficiently.
What do you enjoy the most about spreading your Drupal knowledge?
I have fun learning and telling others about all the different ways Drupal is being used. As the Director of the Center of Excellence, I’m also an Evangelist. My job isn’t necessarily to convince you to use Drupal but it is my job to help you succeed with Drupal and other open source technologies. I get a lot of satisfaction helping people make the right technology decisions. I enjoy helping different teams realize their common ground and reach consensus about how to move forward around technology investments and ultimately how to help their organizations generate value and be stronger competitively.
How long have you been with FFW?
In 2011, some friends at Acquia introduced me to CEO Nancy Stango during Drupalcon Chicago. The rest is history.
What is your favorite thing about working for FFW?
I have a lot of favorite things about working for FFW. Choosing one is difficult. I’d have to say that every member of our team has a commitment to success that is really inspiring. We don’t let clients fail. That’s a very positive and uplifting culture to be a part of.
Ray will be attending many upcoming Drupal events including DrupalCon Amsterdam. He’ll be one of the instructors for Introduction to Symfony2: Getting Ready for Drupal 8. If you’re going to any of these events, be sure to say hello! If you have any questions about the FFW Center for Excellence but can’t make it to the Twin Cities or Amsterdam, check out our online course offerings or send Ray a message.