Kauli – Open Source Grown Up
Kuali is proof that the Open Source model works for more than nerds and geeks. Kuali is a movement where colleges and universities pool resources to develop the software they need to run their institutions. The parties involved provide money and bodies to work on the various projects. And if an school needs a feature in a hurry, they provide money or bodies to get the work done. This is a highly collaborative effort spans the globe.
Many of these same schools found themselves locked into very expensive software that had to be extensively tailored to meet their needs. Each upgrade was an expensive and time consuming process in an era of shrinking staffs and budgets. Regular upgrades were needed to support changes in regulations or latent needs. The cost of upgrades and customization was taking too much of scarce funds. This drove them into an open source model where all contributed and participated.
Kuali is made of of several major, standalone modules that handle items like student admissions, research tracking, or finances. The software it written to be ‘agnostic’ to avoid any vendor lock-in. For instance, the code does not depend on any particular relational database and strives to be as neutral as possible. Many develop on MySQL and I am happy to report that over a dozen have or are about to go into production with MySQL.
The value of the open source model past the LAMP stack world is just now emerging. The schools involved not only get software that meets their needs but also get access to the best minds working on their problem.