This is one of a series of posts about the sessions I attended at the Sixth Sakai Conference. See Conference Schedule, which has links to the individual presentations. Many of the sessions were recorded, and most of the presentations can be found online.
Here are my notes/impressions for the talk Sakai Foundation Overview by Chuck Severance, presented Wednesday, 10:30AM.
The presentation can be found in PowerPoint format here.
This was an outstanding presentation, both in delivery and content. Indeed, looking back, this presentation more than any other convinced me that Sakai is a mature enterprise-level application framework of such quality, with a large development community and an industrial-level Q&A program, and such widespread, worldwide adoption that there can be little doubt of the project’s survival. Of particiular note is the quality of the governance process in place.
Here are a few observations, with S-3 denoting Slide 3, etc.
S-2: Sakai foundation formed in late 2005. Two worldwide conferences per year, 3-4 regional conferences per year. Slow, steady growth in membership, 1-2 new members each month.
S-9: “The mission of the Sakai Foundation is to hold ownership of the Sakai software and to guide and nurture the community of activity around the Sakai software. The Sakai Foundation seeks to as to maximize the positive impact of the Sakai software, technology, and community on teaching and research. ”
S-10: “Clearly communicate with the public and members about Sakai. Work to maintain a healthy, committed, and diverse community around Sakai
Improve the global adoption of Sakai across teaching, research, and other collaborative applications. Work with other organizations to improve the overall state of collaboration and teaching and learning.”
S-11: Proof positive they have figured out the basics of open-source governance and development.
S-14: Describes the process for building a new release. This process is of industrial quality.
S-15: “Mark Norton is Requirements Coordinator. Used to collect requirements across the community.Process runs once for each major release. Requirements “roll over” from one phase to the next. Continuous gathering of feature requests. Guided process to review, understand, document and prioritize requests into “requirements”
High level “directions” document produced to give community summary information.
S-17: Discussion of features for next release. Many broad requirements, evidence of the breadth of the community needs.
S-17. “Peter Knoop is Project Coordinator. Charged with communicating and tracking progress on bugs and requirements. Tracking and communicating amongst volunteer developers. 29 Discussion and Working Groups. 89 Teams – Full Release. 10 Teams – Provisional. 18 Teams – Contrib. First ever – Project Management Meeting – December 8, 9 – Atlanta”
Above is evidence of very large and well-coordinated development team, spanning multiple sites.
S-21. Quality Assurance. “Megan May is QA Director. Facilitates community resources around Sakai’s QA. Significant transition in Sakai QA approach since 2.0. QA drives release process and makes the final call. Significantly broadens community involvement in release in general”
A very rigorous, industrial-level, QA process.
S-24. Community Communication. “Anthony Whyte is Community Liason. Foundation questions. RFQ Help. Security Officer. Mary Miles – Membership Coordination. Web / Communication Team.”
Again, evidence of a team in place to work with the community. Few open-source projects are this mature.
S-25. Security Procedures. “Completely non-transparent process. Security bugs reported directly to security officer; Threat/priority assessed; Security JIRA filed; Patch developed and QA Patch distributed to known sites; Public announcement of the *existence* of a bug; Informal polling of patch deployment; Check into source tree; Maintenance release”
Again, mature, industrial-level.
S-27: Process in place to produce roadmap document.
S-29: Overview. “6343 accounts in collab.sakaiproject.org. 1491 accounts in bugs.sakaiproject.org. 116 developers. 43 Users involved in QA (2.3.0). 25 volunteers in project-wide roles. 9 paid staff – 4 full time.”
No question this is an enterprise-level project.
S-32: Coordination Provided Staff. “Lon Raley – Finance – Michigan – 50%; Megan May – QA – Indiana – 50%; Pam Dietz – Finance/Support – Michigan – 50%; Kathy Riester – Conference/Support – Michigan – 30%; Aaron Zeckowski – Training – VA Tech – 40%; Tony Atkins – Server Support – VA Tech – 20%; Duffy Gilman – Server Support – Univ. Arizona – 20%; Margaret Wagner – Newsletter/Web – Michigan – 20%”
An important point: member institutions are providing staff resources. Would that the Apache Foundation were so fortunate.
S-33: Paid Staff. “Charles Severance – Executive Director – 100%; Mary Miles – Membership Coordinator – 100%; Anthony Whyte – Community Liaison – 100%; Peter Knoop – Project Coordinator – 80%; Megan May – QA Director – 50%; Brigid Cassidy – Conference Coordinator – 40 %; Mark Norton – Requirements Coordinator – 15%; Susan Hardin – Web Master – 25%,”
Even more important: they have the funds to pay for staff. Apache doesn’t even come close to this level of support.
S-38: Finances. “Foundation has money in the bank from the project phase – 500K; Cash flow is neutral to slight negative with the addition of ED Salary and travel; Critical element – renewal rate – modeling projections @ 95/90/80”
They have money, and skills to manage its use.
S-43: Conference attendance. Growing, sweet spot seems to be 300-400 rang.
The following slides have more on the conferences. The foundation puts much of its budget into the conference, and has the resources to do so. The resources deployed for this purpose are almost more than an order of magnitude greater than those available to the Apache Software Foundation.
S-50: Rough Projections. “We are moving forward with purpose. Hired ED / Fellows Program / Cleaning up MOUs for services. We expect moderate continued growth in revenue. We have 500K in the bank to backstop short-term ebbs and flows. “Worst” case for 2007 $150K. Going to work on doing better than the worst case.”
Significant resources at hand. The project will continue.
S-51: Summary. “Financially solid – thanks to project funding carryover. Need to get used to “steady state” and maintain reserve. Major structures and processes are in place and functioning – need iterative improvement. Transition to a nice, clean well-defined foundation is well underway – firefighting slows the transition down.
If you want to see a textbook case of putting together a foundation, development community and development process, as well as creating a community of users, and supporting the developer and user communities by well-organized conferences, then you need look no further than the example shown by Sakai, as described in this presentation.