Is this merger a sign of reduced support for both projects and the need to bring funding sources together to support future efforts?
Early this year, Jasig, the parent organization for uPortal, CAS, Bedework and other open source software serving higher education, and the Sakai Foundation, which supports the Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment, formed Board-level groups to examine ways the two organizations could collaborate more closely. These Strategic Alliance Committees, led by Jasig Chair Aaron Godert, and Sakai Foundation Chair Josh Baron, met in New York in September to consolidate the outcomes of their discussions and bring proposals to their respective Boards.
Based on the recommendation of both Strategic Alliance Committees, the Jasig and Sakai Foundation Boards of Directors are today, October 7, 2010, jointly announcing an intention to pursue a merger of their two organizations, subject to the approval of their respective communities. The new entity would foster the development and use of open source software that supports the academic mission. This goal would be achieved through the identification and promotion of related best practices for increasing effectiveness, efficiency, and innovation in academic institutions, while lowering the risk of the development and adoption of open source software. It would support the further development of communities of interest and practice to explore the use of open source systems and tools to support teaching, learning, research, and other aspects of the academic enterprise. These communities of interest will strongly inform future software development effort.
“Through the discussions over the past several months it has become clear to me that Sakai and Jasig share, at a strategic as well as operational level, much in common”, said Josh Baron. “I am excited by the coming together of our organizations, which I see as a natural step in the evolution of higher education open source initiatives, as it will facilitate many new and exciting opportunities across the academy.”
The new organization would provide shared infrastructure, expertise, and other resources for the development of a wide range of open source software projects that are designed to meet the needs of academic institutions. It would conduct outreach and explore more meaningful relationships with a broad range of open source and standards organizations. It would provide a clearinghouse for best practices on related management issues such as crafting open source-friendly procurement processes and assessing the adoption risks of open source software.
The Jasig and Sakai Foundation Boards of Directors share the conviction that the values of openness, transparency, and meritocracy that underpin successful open source projects are profoundly congruent with academic values. We believe that, beyond the benefits that the software itself can provide, fostering the skills and experience necessary to manage the development and implementation itself will strengthen both the commitment and the effectiveness with which our respective institutions uphold these values across the entire range of academic endeavors.
“As we look to position our products and communities for continued and sustainable success into the future, the opportunity for Jasig and Sakai to join efforts and create a more robust network of open source innovation and community engagement, is one I am enthusiastic about,” said Aaron Godert.
Moving forward, the two Strategic Alliance committees will continue their due diligence regarding the mechanics and practicalities of a merger and will seek ongoing input from their communities. They will craft a detailed proposal to be approved by the respective Boards of Directors and then voted on by their respective communities in the coming months and will be regularly communicating as this work progresses.
Jasig is a global consortium of educational institutions and commercial affiliates sponsoring free and open source software projects for higher education. Jasig is a member supported, non-profit corporation aiming to attract, advance, and sustain communities developing enterprise-level, open source software that helps institutions fulfill their goals. Jasig connects people, provides infrastructure, and sponsors events that foster innovation and collaboration. Jasig’s flagship projects include uPortal, an enterprise portal; CAS, the Central Authentication Service used for single sign-on and secure, proxied authentication; and Bedework, an enterprise calendar used for public events and personal and group calendaring. Jasig also manages a Project Incubator designed to mentor new open source projects and sponsors communities of practice, such as The 2-3-98 Project, which aims to help institutions understand how to exploit open source. For more information, visit the Jasig website at www.jasig.org.