Sunday, October 22, 2006

Open Source at CIT 2006

Day One of the League of Innovation Conference on Information Technology in Charlotte is in the books. The best session I attended today was titled "The State of Open Source in Higher Education" by Rob Adel, CIO of the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

Here is a link to some PPT slides that are very similar to what was used today (Sunday), although he tailored the slides and comments to the community college audience that he was addressing.

Here are a few takeaways from his session:

  • 60% of higher ed institutions have some open source infrastructure software in use such as Linux, Apache, or MySQL.
  • 42% of institutions have implemented or chosen open source applications software such as Kuali Project, Sakai CMS, uPortal, Moodle CMS, or Open Office.
  • 56% of survey respondents who have implemented open source software said that they experienced a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
  • Average priority for I.T. initiatives, not at top of list (slide 24) which indicates that I.T. staffs have bigger problems to deal with (security, etc.).
  • 30% feel that the push for open source is coming from outside of I.T. (admin and faculty), but 70% feel that the impetus is coming from inside the I.T. group of the college.
  • Main reasons for considering open source (slide 29):
    • Avoiding commercial vendor lock-in
    • Opportunities for customization
    • Unique needs for higher education not being addressed by vendors
  • The biggest roadblocks (slide 32) for colleges with adopting open source:
    • The people skills and resources needs to support it
    • Lack of commercial support
    • Perceived lack of product maturity (uPortal and SCT Luminis viewed as most mature applications)
Some of the questions they were interested in (see slide 9):
  • Issue #1: What level of penetration of open source applications constitutes success?
    • For infrastructure software: 60% definitely in use, 10% in consideration for use, 6% considered and rejected, and 24% not considered yet.
    • For applications software: 42% definitely in use, 16% in consideration for use, 8% considered and rejected, and 34% not considered yet.
  • Issue #2: Do open source initiatives have what it takes to succeed as application products in the higher education market?
  • Issue #3: What is the level of expectation regarding open source and is this good or bad?
One of the conclusions (slide 40): “It’s difficult to see how open source can rival the innovation of commercial products going forward given the focus on cost as the key value proposition (but it is possible).”

Another conclusion (slide 41): “A symbiotic relationship between open source and commercial applications seems very possible.”

Rob also made an offer for the community colleges in attendance to join the IMS Global Learning Consortium at a discounted rate of $500 per year for life (whose life?). I'm tempted to have my college join the consortium since I think this is the wave of the future and the only way to get access (at least timely access) to their excellent information is to be a member.

I'm also interested in learning more from Rob when he makes the following presentation on Tuesday: "Online Learning Best Practices, Trends, and Vendor Satisfaction."

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