“It’s also important to note that many campuses and districts use so many different micro-apps and cloud services that it’s becoming less commonplace to have one giant solution to support every need,” he said. “Rather, it’s more of a collage of solutions that needs a broad connector.”

Open source needs minimal maintenance/support: “Not true,” said Ingle. “This is the one disadvantage with open source. With many vendors, support is included. Yet, there are now many support packages you can purchase with open source; for example, redhat.”

Open source relies on community: “This is another huge advantage when considering open source, because with a large community comes support and an exchange of ideas. You don’t get that with closed source.” Examples of large open source communities include Github and Python.

“I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to demonize all closed source software,” explained Ingle, “Just don’t use closed source at the expense of open source. In today’s school climate of declining budgets and staff shortages, you really can’t afford to be uneducated about open source.”

Smart considerations

To help make the transition to open source, Ingle recommends using a list of considerations  before implementation:

  1. How long has the open source maintainer been in use/been around? What’s the reputation of the open source community?
  2. Does the solution support a potential move to an open cloud option?
  3. Do you have the internal resources to support an open-source solution?
  4. What are the platform costs for the solution?
  5. What API and integration capabilities exist?
  6. What are the commercial support options available?

“Exactly how do you assess an open-source community?” asked one attendee.

According to Ingle, you should start by looking at the code check-ins.

“Look for security patches and updates, release history and schedule. Is it standardized? Are they operated by a closed-governance board or the community? These are all important considerations.”

Add your opinion to the discussion.