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Sakai Foundation Board Minutes

April 8, 2010

Attended: Lois Brooks, Josh Baron, Michael Feldstein, Stephen Marquard, Chuck Severance, Maggie Lynch, John Norman

Absent: Ian Boston, Jutta Treviranus, Mary Miles

Submitted by: Maggie Lynch, Edited by Lois Brooks


Josh: Thanked Lois for stepping in and enabling the transition from Michael Korkuska to the next Executive Director.

Mary is not here today because she is on vacation.

Lois: Minutes from the last several board meetings will be sent to the board for approval. Must be approved before they can be posted.

 (1) Financial Update 

Lois: Has not yet received the February statements from the accountant, but offered her a few extra weeks because it's tax season. Have asked her for additional reports to enable better fiscal management. These include actual vs. budgeted expenses and burn rate analysis. Will do a financial presentation at the next board meeting.

Chuck: asked for discussion of the appropriate reserve rate. Lois agreed to provide this.

(2)Sakai 3 Development Update 

Michael had begun a process toward the new "managed" project model for Sakai 3 and now Lois has been working on that with the community. 

Summary: (Lois) We had a formal kick-off meeting for the new Sakai 3 effort last week. There are six universities (Berkeley, Cambridge, Charles Sturt, NYU, Stanford, and Indiana) with commitment of resources on the table right now, and several others who are poised to come in when they see the project scope and timeline and can determine when/if they have something to offer within that plan. We unveiled the Sakai 3 plan to the committed universities and got unanimous support. We are doing a two-phased strategy on project management. We hired a consultant (Bob Benedict, Open Mountain) to do the kick-start of project management work by aggregating all the documents into the plan: technical documents, design documents, a design plan, and a project schedule.  Georgia Tech is paying for this project management effort. 

We are also forming a steering committee for Sakai 2 where every school with significant resources gets a seat at the table. Schools are currently identifying who their representative will be at the table.  This group will then hire the Phase 2 (Design, Development, Production Readiness) Project Manager for that effort.  Estimating a year end-to-end to get the Sakai 3 project together and ready to go.

Extensive communication about Sakai 2 and Sakai 3 (roadmaps, functional and technical information) will be part of the project and the Foundation effort.  Lois will assure regular updates are given to the community on the projects.

Summary of board discussion:

This is a positive step to facilitate the project and keep communications open. It is what the community has requested of the Foundation.

Clarity about Sakai 2 must be part of the communication effort. Sakai 2 is a dependable, feature-rich platform in wide use. Sakai 3 is a natural progression of this work. Both will be evolving and in use for several years.

Universities are making adoption decisions about Sakai based on existing products and the plans for Sakai 3. Need to be clear about state of the work, expectations for product development.

Information about Sakai 3 needs to come both from the developing institutions and from the Foundation. It must be consistent and regular.

There will be many presentations on aspects of Sakai 3 at the summer conference.

 (3) Final Schedule for Sakai Conference Board Meeting

We will be meeting in the afternoon of Monday, June 14th. Agenda will be forthcoming.

(4)Update on ED Hiring Process

Because of recusals from this process we cannot discuss this at length in the meeting. [Note: subsequent discussions of the ED hire will happen with the hiring committee, not in Board meeting.]


(1)              The Board adjourned to executive session for an update on recommended implementations of contingency planning.

(2)        Country-Based Sakai Delegations

Summary: (Lois) Japan and Spain have approached us separately about creating Sakai delegations in their countries. We are formulating a prospectus that will present language specific services, how work done by the delegations can benefit the wider Sakai community, as well as financial model for this type of membership structure. 

Also will talk to the SCAs for a way to bring their customers into the Sakai Foundation. Want to work on some models for membership there. They are ready and willing to discuss this effort.

Summary of board discussion:

Language is the primary reason for the requests. Many want to work in their native languages and to be able to participate in discussions in their native language rather than English.  For example, one area of work may be to translate documentation and code comments into other languages to enable developers who do not read English.  If a Spanish delegation translates documentation this would benefit Spain and Latin America both.

This is not unique to Sakai, e.g., the World Association for Online Education had over 100 countries involved, but it was limited to only English speakers.  Eventually, individual countries volunteered to translate the website for their countries while maintaining the same information. Then they collaborated in setting up discussion sections in those languages and shared facilitation to encourage the involvement of many more participants. It was a very effective model for quite some time.  Of course, it ends when the resources to maintain the work are no longer available.


Lois: Anya Kamenetz has agreed to be our keynote speaker at the conference. She is a proponent of Open Source efforts, a commentator on the millennial generation.  She runs a blog called DIY U  (Do It Yourself University.) Michael Feldstein recently did a blog post on her and was instrumental in arranging for this presentation.

(1) Strategic Alliance Committee

The following text is excerpted from meeting preparation materials was sent by Josh Baron to the Board.  Comments made to Josh by board members from other projects have been omitted from the original note for confidentiality (we have not received permission to share these comments publicly). 

Rationale and Background on Forming the Strategic Alliance Committee
Over the past year there have been a series of informal and formal discussions between various open-source/community-source higher education projects regarding the benefits associated with a range of potential alliances including mergers, partnerships and sharing of services.  During this time we have seen at least one major merger with the formation of DuraSpace last fall and an increase in other projects/communities expressing interest specifically in alliances with Sakai.  Finally, based on the out reach I recently did to other project's Board Chairs, there appears to be a high level of interest in and support for more formal alliance discussions between projects with the near-term goal of holding an "open source summit" at EDUCAUSE at which alliances would be announced.  I have calls scheduled with each Board Chair over the next few weeks to expand these discussions.

Although there are clearly many benefits associated with these alliances, jumping into anyone of them without strategic analysis of the financial, legal and governance issues seems unwise.  In addition, bringing together of open-source communities has unique challenges which need to be thought through and planned for in order to ensure success.  Thus, it seems prudent that the Sakai Board and Foundation engage in a strategic analysis of all of the options on the near and longer-term horizon as means to inform decisions regarding potential mergers, partnerships and shared services.  This strategic analysis and recommendations would be the main focus of the Strategic Alliance Committee.

So far, Chuck, Michael, and myself have indicated interest in serving on the committee.  If other are interested please let me know ASAP.  I would also like to have Lois involved both to get her insights but also because of the practical need to get data and other information on the Foundation and some assistance with analysis.  As I've also mentioned, depending on cost, it might be beneficial to engage someone like Kim Thanos to help as well.  

I feel that we need to move fairly quickly to form the committee (provided there continues to be support for it) and develop a clear charge for it.

Summary of Board Discussion:

The board Strategic Alliance subcommittee will determine what to include in the analysis.  The subcommittee includes Josh, Michael, Ian and Chuck. Josh would like to have Lois participate and may wish to include Kim Thanos to assist the committee with the large amount of analysis that will need to be completed in a short time. The question of available funds to hire Kim Thanos arose; Lois can redirect some funds that were budgeted but unspent to this effort. The committee will meet and determine the goals and expectations for a merger, as well as the analysis to be done, before making a final decision on hiring Thanos.

Need to develop proposals for mergers and for shared services (scale economies across separate organizations). Areas of analysis will include membership models, finances, governance issues, project development synergies, community building, cross-community pollination

The subcommittee will present plans and analysis to the board for discussion and approval before any concrete actions are taken.

A message will be sent to the Sakai community alerting it to the Jasig merger discussion and analysis, as well as potential future discussions, e.g., with Connexions.

Legal Considerations: The Board went into executive session for discussion of legal issues.

Announcement of New Topic - It is time to review the Product Council. It was mandated by the Board a year ago that this would take place. However, it is not a Board action. Lois will be initiating that action and will submit a report to the Board.

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