Why I support the Jasig-Sakai consolidation

In a few days, both the Sakai and Jasig communities will be voting to consolidate into one organisation, the Apereo Foundation. This is the culmination of over a years worth of effort from many people from both communities and it is a very exciting time to be part of open source communities such as Sakai and Jasig.

If you are not familiar with what the vote is all about, take a look at the documents posted on http://www.apereo.org

I’d like to share my thoughts on why I support the Jasig Sakai consolidation plan, since I am involved in projects from both communities, to hopefully offer some insight into how each community will benefit from the consolidation.

Both communities do certain things really well, but there are areas where the expertise from the other group could be brought to bear. For example, current Jasig projects would benefit greatly from the comprehensive QA and accessibility working groups within the Sakai community, and current/future Sakai projects would benefit greatly from the detailed Jasig incubation process and speedy release cycles that are applied to Jasig projects.

In addition, uPortal has a mature mobile project called uMobile. Sakai CLE has a rather basic mobile web view only, but is gearing up for web service support to enable web applications. I see some great collaborations and integrations happening in this space as we move forward.

As for financial savings, there will be considerable savings as the need for two Executive Directors is reduced to one. We can also share infrastructure and reduce the overhead for running it, further reducing the costs and freeing up the time of developers who look after the hardware, to get back into the code where they are needed the most.

There are many other financial benefits to be had, including savings on conferences, collaboration tools, communication services and project facilitation. In the longer term we can achieve considerable economies of scale as we de-duplicate each other.

To the outside world, the Apereo Foundation will hopefully appear as a more attractive and robust option for serving more of an institution’s needs. There is a big push (at least in Australia) to reduce the number of vendors that serve institutions and establish relationships with just a few to provide a larger number of services. Apereo will be in this space. We won’t just offer an LMS/CLE anymore, we can now also offer an enterprise portal, single sign on, a calendaring system, institutional mobile apps, and much more. As institutions see possible alignments, more opportunities for shared development becomes possible.

To paraphrase Maggie Lynch, the previous Chair of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors, I truly believe that if we don’t find ways to share resources, leverage talent across each of the projects and invest in a larger vision for open source software that serves more of an institution’s needs, then we will ultimately fail. I believe we are stronger together, which is why I support the consolidation plan. What you believe should determine your vote.


As for voting, you have two options. Join into a teleconference meeting (details below) and vote ‘in person’ or fill out a proxy voting form and email it – the proxy form is the preferred option just in case of technical difficulties or if you can’t make the meeting on the day, for some reason. On that form you will be nominating the current Sakai Foundation Board Chair, David Ackerman from NYU, to record your vote. You can indicate how you want David to vote for you. It’s as simple as that. The form is due on the 29th October though, which is really close, so please get your forms in.

Note that if you don’t vote at all, or if you abstain, your vote will be counted as a no, so please vote!

Also, if you are not the institutional representative who will be voting, but you are active in the community and have an opinion on the consolidation, lobby your representative and make sure they vote.

Some key dates and times:

29th October 2012

  • Proxy voting form to david@nyu.edu, or
  • RSVP for the teleconference to iandolphin@sakaifoundation.org

1st November, 2012 at 5 p.m. GMT (1 p.m. EST/New York)

  • Teleconference where you can vote in person. You need to RSVP (see above) to get the  connection details.

2nd November, 2012 at 1 a.m. GMT (12 p.m. Sydney, Australia, 10 a.m. Tokyo, Japan)

  • If needed, a continuation of the above teleconference to accommodate members in these timezones.