If a university with 80,000 users, 14,000 concurrent users, and 6,000 courses is using Blackboard and looking at WebCT and not actively considering Moodle because "it hasn't been our policy to support open-source technologies due to the fact that most of them are not supported as mission critical applications," what can be said in response (supposing they are open to persuasion)?
You can pay any company or individual you want to provide Moodle support to any level you want. Pay me a million dollars a year and I'll set up a dedicated datacenter with full time trained staff for you.
The difference with Open Source is that the people you hire to do support can actually fix things that need fixing, or rewrite parts of the code to make it work better on your cluster server or with your authentication schemes and so on. With a closed source system you rely on one company only for this.
You can contract with a Moodle expert (from Moodle.com, for instance), and if you aren't happy with them, find another, while keeping the same LMS.
With Blackboard, if you don't like the support or the features, you have to switch your entire LMS to get something different (as it sounds like your U. is discovering).
Maybe today WebCT is putting alot of their profits into support, but at some point their shareholders are going to want to see a bigger ROI, so they'll cut support, tomorrow Blackboard will go through the same cycle. So long as you use a closed source LMS with a single source of support, you'll always be at the mercy of their business cycle. With the right open source system, one with lots of support choices (like Moodle), you don't get stuck in this "lock-in" situation (another big buzzword right now).
Also with Moodle, if you need a new feature, you can contract directly with a Moodle developer to build it in, and probably get it included in the core system, often for alot less than the yearly license of your "enterprise" product (in the case of WebCT vista, a whole lot less). Once you've purchased a new feature, you won't have to keep paying for it again each year, and you can share in the new features that others are having made without having to pay again for them.
What I'd suggest for a U of your size is to set up a cluster locally (you'll have to pay a team of local sysadmins for Blackboard Enterprise or Vista, either way) and contract for remote support if you have no one qualified locally. All in all the support costs should be about the same as for Vista or Enterprise, but you'll save on the license costs and avoid the nasty lock-in.
Hmm, new slogan: Moodle: mission critical support, without the nasty lock-in.
(Edited by Martin Dougiamas - Thursday, 28 April 2005, 02:47 PM)
Of course they will have forgotten about their open source Apache web servers, open source DNS servers, open source DHCP servers, open source Samba Servers etc etc. None of which will have the slightest affect on anybody in the institution if they fail!
I read somewhere that many big companies run with open source software. Some of the most used open source softwares are MYSQL, PHP and APACHE WEB SERVER.
Some articles reg open source software:
- Why Open Source Software?
- Yahoo Expands Commitment To Open Source
- April 2005 Web server survey shows 70% servers on earth uses Apache (open source web server)
- Yahoo who serves more than 1.5 billion page views a day uses Perl, Apache, FreeBSD to runs its 74 web properties for 25 international sites
We also support numerous other higher education organisations with their LMSs - mission critical applications - and all Moodle instances.
For more information about the NZOSVLE project check out https://eduforge.org/projects/nzvle/
So, there's a working example, all the best and if you would like any further information I'm happy to provide it.
NZOSVLE Project Manager
Hi Martin, Michael, Howard, Ferdy, and Richard,
Thanks a lot for your answers which I've passed back to the pilot investigating team. All I can do now is NOTHING because I don't have the vocabulary to participate in these discussions.
I've also passed along what I like about Moodle from both a teacher's perspective and my students' perspectives along with the full results of a composition class I taught last semester. I think that's where Moodle shines, the forum discussions and in the Full Activity Reports where it was possible to show every word every student wrote for the entire semester!
Now, any decisions are going to be led by the systems technicians.
Thanks again for your responses. It was fun passing those comments up the line!
In your original post you are talking about a University. Others have explained the emptyness of the "mission critical " buzzword (and remember, whatever is "mission critical", that's foryour bussiness, not the software vendor's businness). If the IT likes such grandiloquent declarations perhaps you can use an statement in non-IT words:
The reason of existence of an University is togenerate new knowledge (R&D) and to widespread it by teaching. Rather than waste money into licensee fees, that spend can be converted intoinvestment in supporting R&D groups inside the university (or hiring new IT staff) to further develop existing FOSS tools like Moodle (or others) to fit into your needs.
No one will care for your nest as yourself.
- Enrique -
Quality of service, high reliability and availability are essential, but people using buzzwords are usually doing so that would not have to say anything concrete and important. Ask how the providers define their QoS, what downtime percentages are they willing to promise, what is their response when something goes wrong and most importantly what are the sanctions if they fail to deliver. Demand numbers!
I don't know if the analogy would be appropriate but I thought of this question. Let's say that a vehicle was considered a "mission critical" component of an operation such as a freight shipping company. Without it functioning as it should, the mission could not be met. Would it be considered acceptable for the hood (bonnet, ) to be locked with a key held only by the car/truck dealer?
How then would it be acceptable for closed-source software to be used in a "mission critical" system if the user could not "get under the hood to change the oil?" There may have been a time when automotive vehicles could only be serviced by the manufacturer, but that time is long past. Aftermarket or custom parts are considered appropriate and desirable even in "mission critical" systems. The widely held mindset about proprietary software must now be broadened and become more customer-centric. Open Source allows for this freedom of choice.