The Never Ending Circle Open Source Movement

After reading The Next Open Source Movement, we began the vicious circle once again. When I first got into this business around 1996 in the higher education market there were lots of Universities and Colleges that had homegrown or open-source systems. These systems had years of customization and did a really good job for the Universities and Colleges. The major problem with the systems were loss of institutional knowledge and lack of documentation, every time a senior programmer or senior employee would leave the College or the University, they would take a great deal of institutional knowledge of what the system did and why it did it that way. In addition the constant flow of federal and state regulations regarding financial aid and other changes, became a major inconvenience for Colleges and Universities to keep up with.

After many years of customization most Colleges and Universities decided to Go with a standard solution with limited customizations. This allowed the University or College to put their programming resources into new initiatives (I.E. Learning Management Systems, Web Portals, Business Intelligence and ETC.) With the ever changing flow of new technologies Limited Information Technology Budgets in the ever changing nature of technology in education one must not overlook the need for a Information Technology shop in Higher Education to be fast on their feet. When you're running an open-source or homegrown system you lose the ability to be nimble, the majority of your time and resources are spent dealing with new updates to federal regulations and new custom features for yeur end-users.

Let's be 100% clear about my opinion, in a environment of unlimited resources, superb documentation, cross training and a clear strategic vision. I 100% support a open-source or homegrown Administrative System for any university or college. But if your college or university has limited resources an a difficult time attracting qualified programmers and information technology professionals. A open-source or homegrown system might not be the best fit for your organization.

A Point Of Thought
This blog is a collaboration of Information Technology Professionals in Higher Education, it is based on over 100 years of experience in Higher Education.

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