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Thanks Pat, great to have dialogue over an area that is really at the heart of using OSS.

4. ken udas – april 21st, 2007 at 11:16 am

Pat, Richard, or anybody else who has some insights or thoughts. I am very intrigued by the discussion of software “Governance” in your post. I am interested in finding out how you might see governance working optimally relative to informed evaluation, selection, adoption, and use of OSS. That is, can you outline a simple model or cite some examples of the type of governance you think would address the issues that you have raised?

I have worked in a number of institutions that show different proclivities regarding locus of control and predisposition to commercial software, community supported OSS, and just building internal applications. I would have to reflect a bit on this, but I bet that different governance arrangements that include different stakeholders would show different software adoption patterns, and I would imagine, different cost structures, different levels of client satisfaction, and ultimately different levels of positive impact on the academic enterprise.

Perhaps a perspective from a vendor or OSS community leader/contributor would be interesting.

5. ken udas - april 23rd, 2007 at 5:05 am

Pat, you seem to be suggesting a division of labor. The end users should be responsible for knowing, defining, and articulating the functionality requirements, and the IT department is responsible for making them happen automagically, while not confusing the issue with technological concerns about OSS and proprietary software.

This might be fine for decisions made “low on the stack”, but do you think that it is too late for other applications that end users relate more closely to? OSS is a major topic now among end users and academic decision makers. As a CIO how do you handle the end user “in the know” who actively pushes the OSS question because she knows that Moodle or Sakai is OSS and has “technical” questions about the topics you touch on above (code quality, support, etc.) You know, questions like “What do we do if the guy who wrote the software dies?” At what point do you have to engage the end user in “technological” issues about OSS?

Or, perhaps even a tougher question, how do you handle the end user who claims that WebCT is the appropriate solution because the vendor at a conference indicated that WebCT is “Open Source” because at the appropriate purchasing point you can build your own functionality into the application through PowerLinks?

6. pat masson - april 23rd, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Wow so many good comments and such a poor response rate on my part. Those of you living in the Northeastern U.S. will forgive me as the weather has been wonderful (the first of the season). Starting from the top down…

Richard is spot on, this approach is very much “reliant on a smooth service channel between IT and the Faculty and that’s rare in my experience.” And as many would probably admit that this is not the norm–however it is what I think we in IT should be striving for.

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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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