EQUELLA Becomes Open Source Software - What You Need to Know

EQUELLA is evolving. After 6 years of stewardship by Pearson, EQUELLA is undergoing an evolution into an open source sustainability model. This is the place to ask questions about this evolution - and discover answers.

Is EQUELLA being retired or shut down?

No. Pearson’s involvement with EQUELLA will end at the end of 2017. However, an open source model under Apereo provides long-term evolution and stability to the platform. This is great news for EQUELLA clients around the globe - ultimately supporting millions of learners worldwide.

What is open source software?

“Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.” (Wikipedia)

Why is open source software important?

There are several reasons why open source software is important for education:

Choice, flexibility and control: Open Source Software provides choice and flexibility. An educational institution can choose to deploy open source software with support from the community that produces it, with a service offering from a commercial provider, or as a hosted solution. Institutions often use a mixture of these three approaches to control costs and upgrade cycles. Using open source software, rather than commercial proprietary solutions, means you always have an “out”; you’re not locked into a single vendor or support approach.

Suitability for purpose, collaboration and innovation: Open source software from Apereo is built by education for education. Hundreds of institutions around the world contribute code, documentation and other expertise to make that software fit for educational purpose. Apereo open source software helps institutions to innovate, and then provides a path to making that innovation sustainable by contributing it back to the greater whole.

What is Apereo?

Apereo is a membership organization that is registered as a non-profit in the United States. The overwhelming majority of Apereo members are educational institutions on five continents. Apereo acts as an umbrella for several well-known open source communities serving education. The core mission of Apereo is to assist and facilitate educational organizations that “collaborate to foster, develop, and sustain open technologies and innovation to support learning, teaching, and research." More information about Apereo is available at www.apereo.org . Apereo works closely with partner organizations the ESUP-Portail consortium in France, and LAMP consortium in North America. That’s a network of almost two hundred institutions worldwide.

Why is Apereo important for EQUELLA?

Apereo provides a neutral point where intellectual property can be shared. It’s your guarantee that the software you rely on will be made available in perpetuity.

What open source license will EQUELLA be released under? What does this license enable?

EQUELLA will be licensed under the Apache 2 license. Details of Apereo licensing policy, together with a further, detailed FAQ on licensing can be found here. The Apache 2 license is a “liberal” open source license. In brief, it allows the use, modification, distribution and sale of software for any purpose.

Will commercial support offerings be available?

Commercial support offerings will be immediately available from three established organisations, all with EQUELLA expertise:

What's the near-future product roadmap?

The Edalex Solutions team has already commenced development on version 6.5 of EQUELLA. This version delivers on client-requested enhancements to core areas of the platform. Anticipated features in the release span 4 key areas:

  • UX improvement: introducing drag & drop functionality during file uploads from the wizard page
  • Workflow enhancements:
    • UI enhancements: improved placement of approve/reject buttons and placement of comments in a scrollable panel
    • Notifications: configure workflow notifications by task; user opt in/out of notifications
    • File attachment: enable file attachment related to workflow
    • Task management: enhanced filtering, sorting & searching; improved UI; introduction of bulk actions for tasks
    • Script task: addition of new task type to invoke workflow script
  • Customisable email templates: enabling customisation of email templates for emails sent for notifications and moderation
  • Bug fixes

Version 6.5 is expected to be released in late 2017, with the final scope of the release subject to change.

What's the long-term plan for setting direction?

As EQUELLA progresses towards being a fully formed open source community, it’s vital that voices from EQUELLA adopters are heard. While Edalex Solutions, Unicon, and Next Education Services will be active leaders in establishing and guiding an initial roadmap, we want to carefully create the conditions for greater contribution across the global community.

The first step will be the formation of advisory groups to help steer the open EQUELLA product, and further develop community ownership and investment. We’ll be communicating frequently and regularly about this. Subscribe to equella-users[at]apereo.org to learn how to get involved. (Subscribe by sending a mail to equella-users+subscribe[at]apereo.org)

What are the security considerations under open source?

Open source software is a critical part of IT infrastructure for many large enterprises. Developing software in the open means that developers cannot rely on security by obscurity, and more eyes on software exposes weakness more quickly than much proprietary software.

An independent security firm recently conducted penetration testing on the EQUELLA platform recently. They identified a number of long-standing issues - for which there are no known exploits. These vulnerabilities have been mitigated through software changes, and these fixes are included in the open source version of EQUELLA.

The penetration testing was conducted at the behest of a client. While penetration tests are not conducted centrally, the community takes security very seriously and will respond as rapidly as possible.

As part of the Apereo incubation process we will develop and publish a security policy.