Henk Beld of amazee.io: A focus on marketing & integrations for the next generation of Drupal

Henk Beld of amazee.io: A focus on marketing & integrations for the next generation of Drupal image

Posted by Tim on 20 Feb 2024 in Drupal,Community

Agiledrop is highlighting active Drupal community members and interesting projects through a series of interviews. In this one, we spoke with Henk Beld, Solutions Architect at the web hosting company amazee.io of which Agiledrop is also a proud partner. He shared his journey of discovering Drupal and its vibrant community, as well as some important thoughts on the best path forward for the Drupal project.

1. Please tell us a little about yourself. How do you participate in the Drupal community, and what do you do professionally?

I have worked with Drupal since 2009 and helped organize DrupalJam in the Netherlands for two years. I have always promoted using Drupal and open source software throughout my career. As of the 1st of January this year, I am a Dutch Drupal Association board member. I currently work as a Solutions Architect at amazee.io, solving our customers' more complex hosting needs.

2. When did you first come across Drupal? What convinced you to stay, the software or the community, and why?

I came across Drupal in 2009 while working at a DIY product wholesaler with 300+ stores. Back then, they had Sitecore, but that needed to be updated, and after evaluating many CMS systems, I chose Drupal. We had a small team with a limited budget, and Drupal was the CMS that checked most of the boxes and had a wide variety of available modules.

We built all the new sites with available modules with limited to no customization. Ultimately, there was a corporate website and intranet, and every store had its own landing page with custom information. In the last year I worked with that company, we started publishing products and working towards e-commerce. I’m happy to say that they still use Drupal.

Overall, I liked Drupal, and because of that, I went to many DrupalCons and other meetups and made many friends in the community.

3. What impact has Drupal made on you? Is there a particular moment, e.g. from a Drupal event, which has really stuck with you?

Drupal has greatly impacted my life, and I get to work and have fun with amazing people working on great projects at notable global companies. I’ve been to places worldwide that I would not have seen without Drupal. It all started with DrupalCon Copenhagen, but it really kicked off at DrupalCon Prague in 2013, where I applied at Acquia, ending up in the enterprise world of Drupal.

4. How have you seen Drupal evolve over the years? What do you think the future holds for Drupal?

I have been out of the developer side of things for quite a while. Still, Drupal has evolved massively over the years in a good way, especially from version 8 up with the adoption of the Symfony Framework, Mobile & Multilingual, and API first.

The headless trend will progress, but integration of emerging technologies will also be necessary. I recently came across Sylius, an interesting open source e-commerce framework built on Symfony where both Drupal and Sylius could serve a headless frontend.

5. Why is Drupal such a great platform for enterprise?

Drupal stands out as an exceptional platform for large enterprises due to its comprehensive range of features tailored to meet complex needs. Its multilingual and multisite capabilities are indispensable for organizations operating across multiple countries, enabling seamless support for various languages.

Its modular and highly customizable architecture offers unparalleled flexibility to tailor the site according to specific enterprise requirements. Also, the Drupal API-first approach facilitates smooth integration with various third-party applications and enterprise systems, including CRM, ERP, and marketing tools, streamlining operations and enhancing functionality.

Regarding scalability and performance, Drupal is designed to effortlessly manage high-traffic environments and large data volumes, ensuring enterprise websites remain efficient and scalable.

The introduction of cache tagging in later versions further enhances performance by allowing targeted cache flushing for specific content updates. Security is another cornerstone of Drupal, featuring robust security measures backed by a dedicated security team and a community-focused approach to address vulnerabilities promptly.

6. What are the projects and initiatives within Drupal that you are most excited about and would like to highlight or promote?

While my current role has evolved beyond hands-on development, my engagement with the industry allows me to stay informed about key trends. One notable trend is the growing emphasis on decoupled Drupal architectures. Drupal is just great as a robust content management backend, offering comprehensive out-of-the-box features that perfectly fit as a backend for frontend technologies like React and Angular. This synergy enables developers to create dynamic, user-centric web experiences.

Another critical area of focus is the migration and upgrade path for existing Drupal sites, especially those still on Drupal 7. The availability of sophisticated tools and streamlined processes for migrating to newer versions of Drupal, such as 8, 9, and 10, is a game changer. Tools like that take care of a smoother transition for site owners and reinforce their commitment to Drupal by offering a clear, manageable pathway to leverage the latest technological advancements without the need to switch to alternative content management systems.

But as also highlighted at DrupalCon Lille, investing in Marketing initiatives will be very important! For instance, I see enterprises switching to Adobe Experience Manager more and more. I think Drupal should look more at collaborating with other open source projects, where possible, to strengthen its position in the broader tech landscape.

7. Beyond Drupal, what are you excited about this year? Either a new technology or a personal endeavor.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the year brings from a work perspective! With the massive focus on AI/LLM in 2023 and all the tools, I am curious about what will filter out in 2024. I see many more prominent companies starting to look into using AI/LLM in their company. One of those is also data sovereignty. I see companies are really prioritizing how to keep their data secure.

I recently attended and volunteered at State of Open Con in London. I saw the impact of open source around the globe on AI development, for example, and also heard about the challenges around legislation and open source. I really recommend listening to the event’s informative keynote, “The Open Society and its Enemies” by Professor Neil Lawrence.

On the personal side, I am close to finishing the long renovation project of our house and barn, intending to have an excellent workspace and all the energy requirements running on solar panels. I had a five-year plan, and it looks like I can just make it :)