How Are New Apereo Services Selected?

How Are New Apereo Services Selected?

3rd December 2018

The Background

At its formation, Apereo was endowed with an ad hoc set of services from the former Jasig and Sakai at a project and central level. These were added to by the accession of several projects from outside those two organisations to fully sponsored software community status during the first five years of the Foundation’s existence. It is natural that the great diversity of Apereo software communities will produce diverse needs and requirements. Not every constituent community will meet those needs and requirements in the same way, nor should we fall into the trap of a foundation-level center attempting to direct communities and projects to use identical or similar infrastructure. It was a founding principle of Apereo that it should only undertake such activity as could not be more effectively provided at the level of a member or constituent community. Establishing mechanisms for developing consensus around what core services the foundation provides, and then establishing a framework for providing and managing them, is an important element of the Foundation’s value.

The Problem Space

From time to time, suggestions are made on Apereo lists for a new service to be adopted by the Foundation to be used by Apereo Software Communities and incubating projects. Typically, these suggestions are met with a small amount of discussion, which tends to peter out inconclusively. During the review of Apereo strategy conducted by the Foundation Board in late 2017 and early 2018, it was suggested that a light-touch formal process might prove more effective, lend a greater degree of transparency to the selection (or otherwise) of new services, and (by extension) the retirement of services that are not so well used. This process should be as simple and practical as possible, but should recognize –

  • The principle, mentioned above, that the Foundation should only undertake such activity as could not be more effectively provided at the level of a member or constituent community (“subsidiarity”).
  • That there is no direct relationship between software community or project and membership – membership dues fund the services Apereo provides. The ultimate arbiter of the deployment of Foundation financial resources is the Apereo Foundation Board of Directors.

Successfully developing and adopting such a process requires software community buy-in if it is to be success. Requests were therefore sent to software communities to participate in a conversation around this topic in August 2018.

An Outline Process

  1. Community member posts a suggestion to the Apereo Open List
  2. ED ensures software community leads are notified of suggestion
  3. Proposer raises suggestion within software community/ies they are engaged with
  4. If suggestion receives 5 x +1 votes within 7 days, proposer and ED establish short costing and document benefits (“Proposal”)
  5. Proposal mailed to software community leads for consideration
  6. If more than 50% software communities support proposal, Board consider it (online or at next Board call)

Criteria for Judgement (not exhaustive)

Numbers/size of software communities expressing support.
Efficiency and time savings - especially for volunteers
Cost against available resource