I have extensive experience preparing and presenting speeches on technical topics for small groups and for large audiences; have developed technical training presentations and programs for staff; and have written dozens of speeches and designed presentation materials for many senior executives. My background includes extensive work driving information system choices and the purchase of hardware and software for large organizations, and as a veteran of major technology conferences I am at home with new applications and innovative approaches.

Here is an excerpt from a speech I delivered to a large audience of senior leadership for an international non-profit organization, helping them understand a complicated new internet technology that they were going to be hearing more about throughout their meetings.

The primary software the department uses every day is Drupal. It is from a category of web publishing software called open-source content management systems, or CMS. The leading CMS today is WordPress, which is used to run blogs and small-to-medium websites. Drupal is a more powerful CMS that can be used to build and run websites small and large, and is used by a wide range of high profile organizations. For example, the current website of the White House is built and run with Drupal. Drupal is installed in our server environment, and allows us to create and edit website content and perform a wide range of administrative and design tasks, without needing to do any coding. We use a web-based interface; when one of our team is logged in to the website, we are presented with additional menus and interfaces to work on the site right in our browsers.

Leadership made the decision to use Drupal before the creation of the department, and over the years we’ve all learned a lot about the toolset. Drupal has a reputation for having a steep learning curve, but with training has proven a very effective publishing tool. The department has invested in ongoing training, which has helped the team keep pace with its rapid growth. Our technical consultant, Michael Brooks, is primarily focused on Drupal development work for his clients. While we remain aware of other technologies and toolsets in the industry, specialization in Drupal continues to be a strong long-term investment for our department and the entire organization.

Drupal consists of core software, and then what it refers to as user-contributed modules. Modules expand Drupal’s core functionality, and are developed and maintained by the Drupal community of developers and made available through Drupal.org. For example, we run a module that allows us to provide Google map locations for parishes in our parish directory. Our current configuration consists of core Drupal and about 100 contributed modules, and a handful of custom-coded modules we wrote ourselves.

Hosting and Server Configuration

Our website depends on a server environment called a “LAMP stack”: a software configuration of Linux (operating system), Apache (web services software), MySQL (database software), and PHP (programming language). This is the root software running in a data center server environment, provided by our web hosting company. Our web hosting is currently provided by NST, as part of their overall services for us. We’re in the process of migrating to a web host named Acquia, a company that specializes in hosting complex enterprise-level websites built on our Drupal software platform, particularly for non-profit organizations. We’re working towards being fully migrated to the new host this summer.