I'm a fledgling designer who has got involved in a project with some heavy development requirements, with little time allotted for experimentation.
We are building a pilot for a closed-community information portal regarding security threat reporting. The key requirement is that the back-end is external to the front-end, with no entered or returned form/table data residing in the front-end database.
As well as the secure reporting area with this stringent separation of front and back, there are also requirements for forums, calendars, noticeboards, etc. which can happily reside in the front-end (hell, lets call it Drupal!) database.
I'm slowly getting a sense of how Drupal works, but it is becoming clear that a certain amount of forking of module code (if not outright custom-building) will be required to curtail some of what Drupal does best. Back-end-front-end transit will likely be SOAP XML, and I am pinning my hopes on the webform module as the vehicle for sending most information out (though incoming..?). A minor flurry of further acronyms and jargon that might be involved - Form API, LDAP authentication, Web services..possibly entirely custom PHP forms.
We have something in the budget for a couple of days consultation/training, but will need to time when we get someone in wisely, at the point at which we have a thorough list of specific issues to work through.
It may seem fool-hardy to request recommendations for crack Drupal mercenaries (I'm sure most people in this community are!) but I would be interested in hearing from anyone particularly working in the Suffolk/East Anglian region who might be interested... but for good advice, we would probably even come to you. Pragmatism would be valued, as I have a gnawing feeling that we might be barking up the wrong tree entirely.
I can elucidate further on project requirements and use-cases if anyone is happy to receive an email or call.