Category: ERP

  • RMUG 2017 Presentation Materials

    I am honored to be entrusted with not just one, but two presentations at the RMUG 2017 conference.  I wish my colleague, Chad Marley, CIO at Laramie County Community College were able to join us, but we will try and do him proud.  Thanks to him for the work throughout the project and for building the foundation for the slide deck Dallen, Josh and I will be using.   If you are bored come see us in Cheyenne WY, June 8-9 2017.

    Business Continuity at Casper College and Laramie County Community College
    Kent Brooks and Dallen Griffith, CC, Josh Barrere, LCCC
    Addressing systems continuity in the event of an emergency or disaster is not simple.  It’s tempting to cite budgetary constraints and look the other direction and not do anything.  In the past few years, College Information Systems have moved from very important to mission critical.  Even a minor downtime can cripple institutional operations.

    As part of the facilitated discussion in the summer of 2016 Casper College (CC) and Laramie County Community College (LCCC) selected to investigate a shared services project for backup and Disaster Recovery solutions.   This session will provide an overview of the CC/ LCCC proof of concept experience in reviewing and choosing tools and establishing shared protocol.   A main goal of the project was to identify a solution that works for CC/ LCCC and would be scalable to additional college.

    Why Colleges Should Take a Page from Amazon to Meet Student Expectations (General)
    Kent Brooks, Casper College
    College students are accustomed to using highly personalized interactive consumer technologies such as Amazon and Netflix. Enterprise software in higher education has failed to keep up with the personalized nature of software tools. Casper College changed from a traditional campus intranet portal to Classlink’s device agnostic personal cloud desktop for students, faculty, and staff. This cloud-based software tool creates a personalized aggregation point for all campus users to access all their applications and files as well as providing single-sign-on (SSO). The demonstration will reinforce why Classlink provides our users a customized path to all relevant software, apps and files. We will also provide a brief discussion of our experience in developing an integration for Colleague.

  • AACC 2017 Review: I found people who would fight for the hope of me"

    I found people who would fight for the hope of me.

    -Wes Moore, AACC 2017  Opening Keynote

    I personally had a really great AACC meeting for the following reasons:

      1. Wes Moore’s keynote and the quote above set the tone for me. I think he nailed it. That is what community colleges do.  They fight for the hope of individuals who come through their doors.  A great reminder.
    1. My presentation  went great and I do love telling about our experience with Classlink. I even got fun feedback such as this…

    Anything that combines Johnny Cash and student success is a winner in my book! Love the vision and call to action here.

    Here is my Prezi:

    As an added bonus the focus of my talk was featured on the Education Dive Website and they said:

    Providing students with a highly personalized matriculation experience may have more benefits than just providing a shiny-new-toy in an institution’s slate of offerings: It could actually help improve retention and boost graduation rates. Imagine if a student could get app-based advising or career advice from off-site or after-hours to supplement the often formulaic advising that comes with the required face-to-face check-ins. Or the impact phone notifications alerting one to lab availability could have on success in a given course. The ability to combine personalized learning with intrusive advising and allow students to customize their collegiate experiences based on their own preferences could be a game-changer.

      1. I had coffee with my former boss and retired president Walt Nolte,
      1. I saw several other old friends and made a few new ones,
      1. Got a picture with the Ferrari at the Ferrelli booth (too bad I didn’t win the Ferrari for a day drawing but I am excited for Chris Murphy at NE Mississippi CC)

        Ferelli Ferrai
      1. I removed additional ‘dumbness’ from my head about Pathways thanks to the gifted people dedicated to improving people’s lives when they come to the community colleg
      1. The twitter action went well and people were really engaged(see my Twitter stuff below……..and
    1. I left frustrated to a great degree.   I am not frustrated by all the cool stuff I just mentioned, but rather about my connection to the successful implementation of the Pathways concept.

    Basically, Pathways is a Bill & Melinda Gates – funded effort to design and implements structured academic and career pathways at scale. The thing that frustrates me more than anything was ever present at each session I attended.   I sat in session after session that talked about three legs of this which in some form revolve around people, process, and technology.   
    In every single case the bottleneck to doing this is technology at at some point in the process…the bottleneck is all about these crappy antiquated ERPs.   
    The mindset of many associated with rolling our ERP systems doesn’t help either in my view.  They are at least to a degree satisfied with the existing enterprise model.  We really should be providing college APIs, and one click summarys.  In these sessions I saw time after time where the Pathways model is being implemented
    This makes me think of the old Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin western Paint your Wagons.   In that film there was a song….

    Way out here they got a name for everything
    For rain and wind and fire
    The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe
    And they call the wind Maria

    NOTE: This may be correct or maybe not because I suffer from ailment known as “lyricosis”  It is a condition in which one can’t really remember the sequence of lyrics in a song and so you just start making stuff up.    
    So how does this song fit in?  ERP is Joe, and if Joe is ‘fire’ then ERP in higher Ed is on fire.  The financial part of ERP is unsustainable and there are no really new options in the marketplace or on the horizon.  
    CC’s are in the political spotlight now…  I guess where K12 failed with common core, there’s now a focus on systemically fixing education outcomes through CC’s. What a great opportunity…and burden.  This is where my rub is at this point.
    The ERP Vendors are so big and complicated that I don’t know if we can get past them in any timely fashion. The whole higher ed ERP market is totally broken in my view as well as financially unsustainable (Read my Kuali blogs where the primary theme is the use of public money to finance a startup if you want to know more about how dysfunctional the higher ed ERP marketplace is)   Huge problem.
    Twitter Stuff
    If you missed it here is my 2017 list of Must Follow Community College CEOs on Twitter

    I have been capturing conference Twitter data for several years and AACC is one of those conferences.  
    AACC 2017 Overall Twitter Activity

    Here is how some of the Twitter Activity has varied from 2013 to now.

    Retweets show what people find interesting. Here is the AACC 2017  listing:
    Day 1

    Day 2

    Day 3

    Day 4

    I am sure there is more I should talk about but I need to move on to other things for now.  

  • Preparing to Tweet a Conference as an Attendee

    Speed is What We Need

    Getting the most out of any conference or event is hard work.  Spending time before you get to a conference will pay big dividends during and after the conference.  This advice is beneficial regardless of whether you’re Tweeting the event or not.  If you are Tweeting it becomes even more important.  Preparation will allow you to take great notes which are shared in real or near real time, make connections, gather links to great resources and find people who are incredibly knowledgeable about topics which interest you.  Twitter has gone way beyond a tool which lets you tell people what you’re eating at dinner.  So how do you prepare?
    Preparation Fundamentals
    Charge your Batteries.  Nothing is more frustrating than nearing the end of a session and seeing your device screen asking you to take the following step:
    Power Off
    If your using your laptop it is still likely that you will have to plug in at some point in the day while IPad and phones will likely hold up during an average conference day if they are fully charged.   A long day will likely require either recharging or carrying supplemental battery power.
    Build a Tweeting toolkit. This collection of tools will be different for each person. Most people will just use their phone, but to tweet fast and accurately you will likely need multiple tools for multiple reasons.I will provide a detailed listing of what I use and why. My Tweeting Toolkit consists of hardware, software and apps.   I usually have my laptop, my iPad with Data Plan (See BYOW below) and my phone.  The laptop is still my key device.  Remember my primary goal in all of this is to archive and share conference notes. I type faster than I write and I still type faster at a keyboard than with just my phone. My iPad is used primarily as a monitoring device. For monitoring a Twitter feed I have used several tools, but I seem to always come back to Hootsuite. Hootsuite is sometimes referred to as a Twitter Client. I will describe these in more detail later in this post.
    Software I started tweeting at conferences as a way to archive and share my notes. I am one of those people who try to sit in the front row and take vigorous notes. I pay no attention to those speakers who say, “My slides will be available after the conference” or “Give me a business card and I’ll shoot you my slides later” If they are a half way decent present there is plenty of content discussed which isn’t in the slide deck. Those are the nuggets I am trying to capture. My notes for years were taken in Microsoft Word, however in recent years I have switched to Google Docs. The addition of Twitter to this note taking frenzy was simply a way to share and archive those notes.   If you’re going to share those notes quickly or in near real time the software in conjunction with a process is very important.   I have experimented with Evernote but still feel that Google Docs is the best tool for me at this point.
    BYOW.  Bring Your Own Wireless.  Granted this is better than in the past, but I have NEVER been to a conference where wireless coverage is 100%. There is always one tiny obscure conference room in the corner of a facility that has no wireless, even at the best tech conferences.  Finally, don’t get frustrated.  Even if bring your own wireless there is likely going to be some locations in a conference facility where you can’t get the conference wireless signal and your BYOW doesn’t have sufficient signal either. This may be a time where you kick back and focus on the speaker.
    A Twitter Client is a service or application which is designed to display Twitter feeds as well as other tools to enhance your usage of Twitter.   The most common and important feature with this genre of tools is feature that displays multiple columns side by side. If there are multiple hashtags you wish to follow you can assign each column a hashtag and watch more than one at the same time. Some of these tools/ applications allow users to send messages (called tweets) directly while others give users the ability to create more complex tweets which they then have to manually post through Twitter itself.
    Hootsuite my current favorite has both free and paid versions. The free version allows you to manage up to five social profiles. Not only can you post to Linked or Facebook, but in case you’re Tweeting from multiple accounts you can manage those from a single location.   Hootsuite does include reporting and a tool for internal conversations between colleagues or friends.   In my view it provides the greatest number of twitter threads and capability to monitor those threads.
    I have also used TweetDeck, but Twitter purchased it and made it a web only tool. TweetCaster is free with iOS, Android Windows Phone and Blackberry editions. You can also post to Twitter and Facebook. It’s most interesting capability is the “Zip It” function which gives you the capability hide difficult followers tweets without unfollowing them.
    The final item in my toolkit is my cell phone. My phone is used almost exclusively for pictures which I use when I want to tweet that great picture or slide and want to provide more meaning than any 140 characters I could type.  Be ready when you pull out the camera phone to share that really great slide as someone nearby will tell you the slides will be available on the conference site.  Just smile and go on.
    Other things to Think about
    Give credit when credit is due. If you are Tweeting someone’s work, be sure to give them credit. You should do this by making it clear who is speaking by including their Twitter handle. If the speaker doesn’t provide a twitter handle, you might be able to find it with a quick Google search for their name, their institution, and the word “Twitter.” This should be done in advance so you can focus on the speaker and their comments.
    Start tweets correctly. Don’t start the tweet with “@.” The @ symbol in Twitter is always the first character in someone’s Twitter handle. If it is appropriate to start with “@” insert a period and then the username (e.g., “.@kentbrook”). One of the characteristics of Twitter is that if you start a tweet someone’s username, only the people who follow you and that person will see the tweet. Inserting a period allows everyone who follows me to see that tweet. Of course, if you’ve used hashtags properly, everyone following that hashtag will see your tweet whether you use the period or not.
    Text Expansion. Text Expansion is not something I use regularly but I know some people I have spoken with really like it as a way to speed up their tweeting. At this point you should be seeing the types of things that should be included in a conference tweet:

    • A Conference Hashtag
    • A Session Hashtag
    • A Username for the person speaking.

    Text expansion allows you to create a piece of text with the three items listed above and then assign a keyword to that piece of text.   For example, if someone were to do this while I was speaking at the 2014 Educause Conference in a session with a session hashtag as follows #s101 would look like this:
    @kentbrooks #edu14 #s101
    If I assign the above text the keyword “ttr” I can simply type “ttr” in my Twitter client and the speaker and hashtags are automatically created.   The software will even put your cursor in the right place so that you can start typing immediately.   When you go to your next session you simply change your text. The key is preparing before the event.
    Decide who to follow.  A great way to do this is by following the conference hashtag prior to the event.  There are always a few people tweeting in anticipation of an event. If they are tweeting before an event they likely will be tweeting.  Build a who to follow list prior to the event.  For example prior to the 2014 American Association of Community Colleges Annual Conference I made and shared a list of the 12 Must Follow Community College CEOS.  That list was tweeted and retweeted over and over through the course of the conference.  I also received several recommendations on who to add to the list.  Very good input and I now follow many more of the exceptional leaders in the community college world, some of them now follow me…and guess what some more of them may even get added to my list next year.
    Know all the Conference Hashtags. In a previous post we learned about hashtags.  Learn, share and use the conference hashtag. The most important thing to do for conference tweeting is to use the hashtag associated with the conference. By using the conference hashtag, others who don’t follow you will still be able to find your tweets using Twitter search. Most conference organizers these days specify the hashtag: for the Ellucian Live 2017 conference it is #elive17  for the 2014 Mountain Moodle Moot it is #mtmoot.   If you find yourself at a smaller conference and there is not a hashtag, you might have to create one. will lead you to a list of hashtags that have already been used in the past or are currently active. If you find an existing conversation on the hashtag you’re thinking about using, you might want to go with something else which is not as frequently used.
    Prepare to take some breaks. This is a mindset mostly, but it’s important to consider that you might need a break from tweeting or reading the stream(s). So take a break every couple of sessions and practice the art of undivided attention. Again, this will help you avoid being sent to Twitter jail

  • Kuali Days 2016? Why Bother

    Solitary woman in a theatre
    Kuali’s formula after their for-profit direction is more problematic than that of a commercial vendor such as Ellucian, because Ellucian never asked for membership or “project contribution”  money to develop software with the intention of selling the result back to you as SaaS products.

    In my last Kuali related blog; “The Numbers Don’t Lie”, I wrote about how the Kuali’s net assets dropped by an alarming 61%; or in non-profit terms….they lost $15 million of the members’ money. I also wrote that through mid-2015 the write-offs increased almost 500%!  Basically member departures, non-renewals and no new members led to this and sent a clear message about how the for-profit direction changed everything for many institutions.  
    When you look back a few years, the number of Kuali members before the for-profit Kualico/Kuali Inc. was 86.  Now it is just a little over 20!  If you exclude the institutions whose members are the Kuali foundation directors, there are 10.   Those institutions represented by the foundation board members seem stuck as they try show that there are still some members sticking around; some of them probably reluctantly.  Of course many of the biggest cash sources and important members have departed and yet they are still listed as partners on  
    What about the upcoming Kuali Days 2016? The homepage for the conference features a prominent countdown clock, but what is really going to happen when it reaches zero? Does it look similar to the picture below?

    Solitary woman in a theatre
    Single woman sitting lonely in an empty cinema or theatre

    What I would like to touch on first is that the power of events like these lies not in the speeches, or the workshops, but in the mere achievement of bringing people together.  Like a positive feedback loop, the more people that attend, the better the event becomes, just by the nature of each attendee offering something new and unique. Kuali recognizes this, but their feedback loop has moved in the wrong direction, and that is likely why their slogan for this year is “Be different. Together.”  A very compelling theme, or at least it would be if it weren’t so similar to  Android’s recent ad campaign.  Even as moving as it sounds, it appears to go completely against what the Kuali community has been doing for the past two years.  They state on their website:
    “Celebrate the power and potential of the extraordinarily innovative Kuali community – the foundation, company, members, customers, and interested newcomers at Kuali Days 2016. The conference reinforces the Kuali attitude of daring to be different, encouraging and depending on the ideas, opinions, and shared experiences of the greater community. Be different. Together.”
    First of all they confirm what I have been blogging about Kuali and how the for-profit direction changed everything.  Notice that in the order of the words, “company” meaning Kuali, Inc.; the for-profit software company, appears upfront.  If you say their slogan out loud, you can even hear a faint cry for reconciliation in those words, hoping that things could go back to the way it used to be before everything went so awry.  I also find it rather ironic that Kuali decided back in 2014 that the community itself wasn’t sufficient and that KualiCo would take them to the next level; however it certainly appears they are clearly struggling in their ability to perform and they now want to “Celebrate the power and potential of the extraordinarily innovative Kuali community” once again.  This new ‘daring to be different’ mentality is practically laughable when you consider the unwritten disclaimer that accompanies it: “*As long as it fits within the plans and is profitable for KualiCo.”  I simply don’t like the mixing of the community and the for-profit company.  Apparently, many institutions feel this way, as the number of members went from 86 to little over 20.
    Charging membership and project fees and then turning around and giving that money to a for-profit company has always been my beef in this change.  This happening while Kuali tells their members that they can take the software and run it themselves; this is disingenuous.    Nobody does that nowadays since almost everything is going to the cloud.  
    Back in the days of on-premise, licensed software, a conversation about a value proposition with an institution went something like this:
    Commercial Vendor: We can give you the software with an initial license of $X and charge you 20-30% of $X per year maintenance. You will run our software on your own servers.
    Kuali:   You can download the open source software, free of licensing fees (you will save $X) and we will not charge you any maintenance fees (you will save 20-30% of X).  You can leverage your internal IT team and install the software and run it on your servers.  If you like this concept, optionally you can become a member of the Kuali consortium and pay membership fees which are substantially less than the licensing cost.  If you want to influence the direction of the software, you can pay more in the form of project participation fees.
    Fast forward to today’s profit motivated Kuali in the age of cloud-hosted software:
    Commercial Vendor – We can give you the software in the cloud and charge you implementation fees of $X, then yearly subscription fees of $Y per year.
    Kuali  We can give you the limited version of the software for free and you can run it in house (good luck!).  Or, we can give you the software in the cloud and charge you implementation fees of $X, then yearly subscription fees of $Y per year – an approach identical to commercial vendors.   Oh BTW, this is different than the vendor lock-in we talked about in anger for many years.
    I have begun calling Kuali’s above tactic “crippleware”.   Yes, there is a free version sometimes called freemium, it has some features, but for an organization it is basically useless.  However, because they give away the free crippled version they still try to hang on to the open source mantra.  If you want something that is really usable for your organization you have to pay.  I think I would rather call it what it is…commercial software.  
    Ellucian a few years ago created a community source effort (I believe at the time, it was caused by the enthusiasm for the old Kuali Community) in which you could write code and donate it back to the community and then Ellucian would provide resources to maintain that code. I thought at the time…Hmmmm great we get to do R&D for a publicly traded company and then in some cases get the privilege of paying them for innovative work that we did.  Then came Kuali’s commercialization.   

    Kuali’s formula after their for-profit direction is more problematic than that of a commercial vendor such as Ellucian, because Ellucian never asked for membership or “project contribution”  money to develop software with the intention of selling the result back to you as SaaS products.

    So back to the question “Why would anyone want to be a member of Kuali and go to Kuali Days?  By now, they are practically a closed-source solution and act like any other commercial vendor that is just looking to lock in their client base.  Once again, numbers don’t lie and losing $15 million of member institutions’ money and going from 86 members to little over 20 without some of the most important members is a very ominous sign. My sources tell me that the Foundation staff and board members have been calling H.E. institutions and asking them if they would attend Kuali Days 2016.   I understand they are even calling institutions that are no longer members. I was also told that when they call, they are claiming that there will be over 300 people attending. Let’s do the math: discount the claims a little and say that 300 people attend; a far cry from almost 900 a few years ago; prior to the for-profit direction.  Looking at the attendee lists from the past, Indiana University has always sent over 100 people to these events.  They may send even more to this event to give the illusion that there are actually some people attending.  There are nine other institutions represented by directors on the Kuali foundation board.  Those directors are stuck on a sinking ship and will try to send as many attendees to Kuali Days as possible.  That is another 150 people collectively I would suspect.  We are up to 250.  On the commercial side, Kuali Inc./Kualico will undoubtedly will send as many people as possible, perhaps 20.  After the foundation staff, etc., we are really left with 20 people that are curious; if Kuali is lucky.  Again, this is what happens when you go from a truly open, community software to commercial software essentially funded by the public sector dollars.  
    Kuali’s formula, even though they are commercial now, is asking for membership money to develop software with the intention of selling the result back to you as SaaS products. No responsible institution would do this.
    Anyone who is curious about attending Kuali Days ought to think again.
    Why bother?

  • Austin we have a problem: University of Maryland drops financial support for Kuali Student project

    Austin we have a problem: University of Maryland drops financial support for Kuali Student project

    Some things are too coincidental to be a coincidence.

                                                                               -Yogi Berra

    I received an message the other day which read as follows:

    Given I’m getting blitzed with Kuali Days specials, as I’m sure you are, I’m wondering – Is there any way to get an honest number of attendees?

    I don’t really know much about the attendance (or lack thereof) at Kuali Days 2015  but I thought it a coincidence that shortly after getting that question I also received a message (see below)  and subsequent confirmations which may be the most significant news in the 14ish month transition of the non profit Kuali to the commercial firm KualiCo (which now seems to be calling itself Kuali again).

    The University of Maryland dropped off the Kuali Student project.

    This is in sharp contrast to last years announcement about their $500,000 Kuali Student  investment (see above) and is essentially a “No confidence vote” by the biggest supporter of KualiCo, UMD College Park.  That also means there are no U.S. institutions left as Kuali Student partners (U of Hawaii is listed but is not a full partner in the project).  Although other institutions are listed on the Kuali Student project page, there has been no announcement of those higher education institutions making commitments or writing checks.   Kuali Student Project was the centerpiece of the Kuali to KauliCo transition.
    Given their Kuali Days 2014 commitment to a concept called patient capital in which they would rely on “other people’s money” to finance their start up this has to be a huge blow. I don’t really have time to look at this in depth right now, but I have been communicating with others and expect to have an analysis posted as my academic duties permit, hopefully in the next week.
    In terms of the original question at the beginning … Kuali Days 2015 attendance in Austin Texas?  in 2013 they had 900 attendees.  Last year there were 730 attendees.  Not counting the 30ish KualiCo the large contingent from Indiana University they will be lucky to get less than half of that total.
    If their largest financial contributor, the University of Maryland, for their centerpiece student project is gone and I am right on the conference numbers, the real theme and conversation for the Kuali Days 2015 attendees will likely be:

    Austin we have a problem  

    Stats from Previous Blog:


    This post has already been read 1002 times!

    Stats from old blog:

    Stats since moving to new blog: 3970 for a total of 4972 views through  1-24 -2019

    And now we move again…..
    October 13, 2015 | Filed under: ERP, Kuali, open source, Software and tagged with: , , , , ,

  • Kuali/ KualiCo Update: One Year and a Cloud of Dust

    The Dust Bowl was the name given to the Great Plains region devastated by drought in 1930s depression-ridden America. When drought struck in the 1930s the arid grasslands which had been broken out for farming no longer had a strong root system as an anchor. The winds easily picked up the loose topsoil and swirled it into dense dust clouds, called “dusters”, “rollers” or “black blizzards.” Recurring dust storms wreaked havoc, choking cattle and pasture lands and driving 60 percent of the population from the region.  Dust during the storms cause eyes to burn, housewives hung wet bedsheets over windows and doors to try and keep the dust out, and many people actually died of dust pneumonia. There came a time when people knew another storm, like the one below, was coming and it was just time to pack up and leave.

    I ended my first blog about the Kuali change to a commercial entity a year ago by stating “Buyer Beware” in reference to the change. Not because I don’t think the higher ed market needs more choices in the ERP space, but rather because the process which occured to get from to KualiCo was just sleazy.    A happy community contributing toward a common goal of creating “higher ed software by higher ed” transformed quickly into extreme paralysis.
    With that and my feeling that “Buyer Beware” is still the appropriate approach to the Kualico effort, let’s review some of the things that have happened with the new KualiCo as described by their blog, news page and the Kuali Foundation web site.
    November 2014 – April 2015 …. not much
    April 20, 2015 … new Kuali.Co offices!  HP started in a garage, Apple started in a garage, Google started in a garage. KualiCo started in brand new offices funded with other people’s money. When a startups highlight news is about their grand new offices instead of focusing on product, clients and results, you have to worry.
    April 2015 – June 2015 … Conversations about culture and cloud.
    A June 11, 2015 blog provided an overview of progress on various issues.  One that was interesting to me is the discussion of Rice.  As I recall from various discussions I thought Rice was dead. The October 16, 2104 Kuali 2.0 update states,

    Project dependence on Rice should and likely will start to decrease over time.

    However in the KualiCo post it states,

    Great things are happening with Rice!
    Kuali rice

    Interestingly, I recently was informed that Rice project board stalwarts Cornell, UC Davis and Colorado State University had departed.  This is a far different story than what is listed in the blog above.
    Another portion of that June 2015 blog briefly discusses the student project, which brings us to July 2015. More than once, July 1, 2015 was referenced by Joel Dehlin, the foundation board and other observers as the target date for delivering the first module of the new student system: Curriculum Management.
    Curriculum Management missed its July 1 advertised availability and continues to use the original Kuali Java code with only an improved presentation layer (based on their AACRAO roundtable as reported by anonymous attendees). There were no slides or other published materials available from the roundtable.
    Many people who pushed the pause button indicated that if KualiCo had not delivered Curriculum Management by that date, then KualiCo is “dead”.  As of this post, 24th of August, 2015, there has been no new Curriculum Management module or any other news about it for that matter.  Kualico failed the most important test.  I wonder what University of Maryland executives are thinking now since UMD took a leap of faith and wrote a $500,000 check to KualiCo for the “new” student system.
    Meanwhile, Boston College is moving full speed ahead as they leveraged all the previous work that was done on the $40 million student project that was abandoned by the Kuali Foundation. Boston College is making great progress, as can be seen in this blog by Norm Wright, the software architect on that project.  In that blog, Norm writes:

    First of all Kuali Student has been branded on campus as “EagleApps.” The primary goal is to create a system that will work for BC now and for a long time to come. A secondary goal is to provide a stable platform that other like minded institutions will be able use to implement their own solutions if appropriate.  As such the BC effort continues to identify likely configuration points and when done they will release the source code under an appropriate open source license.

    The comments section of Norm’s  blog indicate that the University of Washington made a similar decision to continue leveraging the original Kuali Student software and not pay attention to KualiCo.  The university announcement indicates:

    This shift, combined with other changes in the SIS vendor marketplace, prompted the UW to defer a decision about entering into a new MoU with KualiCo for Kuali Student development.

    Recycled News
    KualiCo’s most interesting recent news in the continuing Kuali saga is a July 8th press release that was publicized via LinkedIn with the title: “Coastal Carolina University selects Kuali Research as their SaaS grant & research management solution”
    This is the first press release on the Kuali.Co pages of an institution “moving to” KualiCo’s SaaS offering since their formation last year; about eight months ago.  Or so it seems.

    That must mean things are really starting to take off.  The doubters such as myself are finally proven wrong… or are we?   Let’s take a few minutes to compare this press release to some of the language in a June 5, 2014 press release by the Kuali Foundation.

    Date: July 8,  2015

    As a primarily undergraduate institution, our research administration staff and resources are limited, but we have worked hard to successfully increase our research volume. Kuali Research provides a single reliable source for proposal, award, and compliance information along with enhanced oversight and visibility. The built-in reports and user-friendly functionality provide our staff more time to spend with faculty. We are pleased with the service, reliability, continuous improvements, and seamless upgrades which allow us to administer our research and compliance duties without downtime or delay,” said Bruxanne E. Hein, Director of Office of Research Services at Coastal Carolina University.

    They also state: “Kuali is the only company that delivers Kuali Research as a SaaS solution”
    Kuali Foundation
    Date:  June 5, 2014

    As a primarily undergraduate institution, Coastal Carolina has a limited research administration staff and resources but is working hard to increase our research volume. Cloud Express will provide a single reliable source for proposal, award, and compliance information along with enhanced oversight and visibility with built-in reports,” said Bruxanne Hein, Office of Research Services Director.

    If you think they are basically identical, you would be right.  Coastal Carolina University is a customer KualiCo inherited from rSmart over a year ago.  KualiCo seems to be having trouble with their business model. I think KualiCo felt the need to look resilient, so they have resorted to publishing puffery, and recycling old news.
    That’s not all.  Even though the recent announcement made it sound like KualiCo held onto this client and has a long term relationship, the KualiCo press release on their blog about the win came out July 8, 2015 and an RFP was announced August 3, 2015.
    ( “Coastal Carolina University selects…), CCU publicly issued an RFP, seeking a long term contract for Kuali Coeus hosting and support.  Here is the header of the public Request for Proposal issued with vendors’ responses due on 9/8/2015:

    To announce a win while there is an RFP issued by the institution for vendor bids is an effort to mislead in my opinion and raises the question of trustworthiness.  Buyer beware?
    More trickery, smoke and mirrors:
    KualiCo also says in their release that they are the only one to deliver Kuali Research as a SaaS solution.  I bet that is true since they are the only one with a product named “Kuali Research”  Frankly the press release of a win for an RFP that is about to be issued is very peculiar and the verbal gymnastics used to state that they are the only one with a product called Kuali Research as a SaaS solution is pretty funny as well.   Any time you see “We’re the only… “ you can pretty much assume there is some marketing trickery afoot.
    We were told at Kuali Days 2014 that adding clients was absolutely necessary to make the creation of a commercial company successful.  It seems they are recycling news to make it appear something is happening.  All these signs put an even greater amount of doubt over the viability of KualiCo in the long term.
    What about the Kuali Commercial Affiliate KCA support ecosystem?  The List of KCA’s has gone from 10 to 2 (Not counting EBSCO) Polus and Open Collab per my sources indicate did not renew but they are still listed as KCA’s.   It is again disingenuous for the Foundation to leave their name up to make it appear to the casual observer that Kuali Commercial Affiliates did not sever their affiliation with the Kuali Foundation. Although some might say this is just an oversight, but based on other factors we have seen this past year it appears to be a pattern.  It also appears from adoption announcements onlinkedIn and other sources that colleges and universities are getting quality Kuali support without the affiliation with the the Kuali Foundation.
    Need (in)Patient Capital?
    Here is the highlight of the “patient capital” strategy from the Kuali foundation:

    The commercial entity is being structured in a way that enables some of the very good things that commercial entities can empower when financed by patient capital rather than beholden to quarterly returns of unaffiliated owners.

    KualiCo recently announced a new board member, Darren Wesseman and highlighted his fundraising experience.   First of all, so much for “patient capital” if fundraising experience is now important.  Since universities have been reluctant to provide funding to KualiCo, it seems that they may now be willing to go a different direction to finance development.  But, let’s examine the pattern here.  rSmart now makes up a good part of KualiCo and Chris Coppola, the COO of KualiCo and the ex-CEO of rSmart proudly posted the news about Wesseman on LinkedIn and other venues.  Let’s examine how rSmart previously convinced investors to provide funds and what happened:
    Private Investment of $2 million in Aug 2006
    Private Investment of $3 million in Dec 2008
    Private Investment of $8.5 million in Sept 2011
    Last Round $10.75 million in August, 2012
    Basically, rSmart burned through more than $24 million of investors’ money prior to selling assets to two companies in October 2014.  Once again, let the buyer beware!
    Where are the disclosures, resolutions, and explanations?

    • There are indications Kuali and KualiCo have not provided (and actually refused to provide) any evidence that there is not a special arrangement with the designated Kuali Foundation director. Also, what would prevent KualiCo–after giving stock to Joel and other employees–from “out voting” any Kuali Foundation input and cancelling their agreement with the Kuali Foundation?
    • I do not recall any Kuali Foundation Board resolution providing the name of the permanent Kuali Foundation Director on KualiCo’s board (where is that KualiCo Press Release?)
    • The Kuali Foundation’s director on the KualiCo board should have reported back on the Foundation’s investment and KualiCo stock grants. The disclosures should have been made by the Foundation’s Director on the KualiCo board to the Kuali foundation board and the community.
    • How did the nonprofit Kuali transfer the licensing rights to the for profit KualiCo? KualiCo is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Kuali.  The foundation was supposed to be the steward of the community and public money and respect its fiduciary responsibilities. KualiCo now imposes AGPL licensing on previously ECL licensed software to achieve vendor lock-in.  This is a big one.

    Just when you think you’ve heard it all, there’s more!
    KualiCo apparently has now changed its name to “Kuali,”   a move that will only further demand an answer to the question of whether the historic non-profit Kuali is playing clandestine corporate gymnastics to benefit from commercial profit while continuing to enjoy its tax-free status under the IRS Code.  It’s no secret that the result of the for-profit designation “Co,” appended to “Kuali,” resulted in a significant amount of anger on the part of the Kuali members, who were not thrilled that their dues were used to fund a for-profit start-up and purchase part of the for-profit rSmart – all this with little input or approval, and without any resultant equity interest in KualiCo.
    I think colleges and universities are smarter than that and are starting to lose faith in the Kuali foundation and the way it forced commercialization with KualiCo.   So where do we stand one year later?  In the middle of a dust storm.  We should know and see more, but we really don’t know. What you can see is KualiCo’s attempt to monetize Kuali software and community as well as their utter failure at so many levels all the while moving away from community and the spirit of openness.
    When the dirt is blowing in the middle of a dust storm and you can’t see clearly you really need to wait until the storm is over before beginning to clean up the mess the storm brought upon you.  This storm is still picking up speed. Just like the “Okies” packed and headed for California during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s  it may be time to pack up, leave and re-group in a better place.
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    And now we move again…..

  • Rent Seeking and the Demise of a Sharing Culture

    The classic example of rent-seeking is that of a feudal lord who installs a chain across a river that flows through his land and then hires a collector to charge passing boats a fee (or rent of the section of the river for a few minutes) to lower the chain. There is nothing productive about the chain or the collector. The lord has made no improvements to the river and is helping nobody in any way, directly or indirectly, except himself. All he is doing is finding a way to make money from something that used to be free.

    Robert Shiller

    A recent post on the OSS Watch Team Blog by Jim Farmer, “Open Source Software Licensing Trends”, points out that AGPL makes up less than 1% of the open source licenses out there and the trend is to become more open, not less.   This got me to thinking more about this progression over the past 35 years, my recent posts about Kuali, and how higher education’s knowledge sharing culture is adapting and changing.  Farmer writes,

    Higher education has traditionally been a knowledge “sharing” environment. Early software was exchanged without license and, in practice, without restrictions. As the monetization of intellectual property, including software, becomes pervasive more restrictive software licenses have been introduced and enforced. These licenses impose legal duties of the user of “open source software” that could be unexpected and have undesirable consequences.

    In the Kuali situation, the Kuali foundation board basically shifted the projects’ development activity to the for-profit KualiCo and imposed the AGPL license.  However, it is the same goods, just different packaging.   So the question with the change from Kuali to KualiCo is…Does it add value or rather is it designed to seek a way to charge for something that was previously free.
    While reading and wrestling with the sharing and productivity question, I  stumbled upon the term “rent-seeking”.  What a revelation this was in my personal conflict about what is productive and what is not!    I never really had a word or phrase to describe this increasing reliance in our society on required unproductive activities, but my discovery of  Joseph Stiglitz’s  “The Price of Inequality”  provides a great discussion of this topic. Thank goodness for Nobel laureate authors.
    The “Price of Inequality”  is essentially an attempt to change the debate about an unequal  two-tiered society.  He suggests that inequality violates moral values, and in a money-driven political system the most influential are granted excessive power.  Those with the power use it to protect themselves from competitive forces by winning favorable tax treatment, ­protected market share and other forms of what economists call “rent-seeking.”
    At Educause 2014, “the father of Kuali” Barry Walsh stated for Inside Higher Ed, in reference to the change from GPL to AGPL licensing,

    I’ll be blunt here, it’s a commercial protection  —  that’s all it is.

    Seems this statement could almost be part of the rent-seeking definition. For whom is commercial protection provided?….that would be KualiCo.
    To make matters worse, just like in a typical rent seeking scenario, it became obvious early on to many that KualiCo was really formed way before the community meetings took place and “friends” secured their places in the new rent-seeking, river chain collector positions either directly or via “acquisitions” with no RFPs, community involvement, due diligence, or disclosures whatsoever.
    With the ownership of the licensing transferred into the hands of KualiCo,  Shiller’s example of the feudal lord at the beginning of this blog post is personified with the change from Kuali to KualiCo. It is is very discouraging for those who need a way to make administrative computing software affordable without vendor lock-in.
    ”Is this change to KualiCo productive and will Kuali be better than it was before?”  Will institutions like mine benefit from this change?
    There are many signs of intense desire to do rent-seeking in the Kuali to Kualico situation.  My blog readers have pointed out several examples that have rent-seeking characteristics, including the new contribution model for the member institutions:
    Every institution that is submitting a contribution has to now provide specs, documentation, technical resources, and fix bugs caused by their contribution during testing. Additionally, functional resources will provide said specs, and also provide help testing.
    This is quite a lot of work for an institution that still pays fees, and now also must donate code and functional/technical resources to contribute to a product such as KFS.
    What a great way for KualiCo to get a free staff of workers to help better their KualiCo cloud offerings. Big institutions may be too slow to change and adopt a whole new version with the contribution. If another school wants that one contribution, they’ll incorporate it in their next upgrade (long term) or get it from the institution directly (short term). So in my opinion it seems it really mainly benefits the KualiCo cloud initiative since they probably are pushing for vanilla hosted products. In either event, they’re asking a lot of institutions who pay their dues and do all that extra work … and for what benefit?
    Another example of which I have been told is a shift from Kuali’s open JIRA system to KualiCo’s private JIRA system.  They essentially created a new system and have been using it to manage the important work there without oversight by the community. As a result, JIRA references in the Kuali Foundation’s KC release notes now point to the private JIRA tasks maintained by KualiCo, making them inaccessible to regular community members.  Individual institutions have been relying on the information in JIRA to support themselves. With that resource no longer available, they have become less self-sufficient and more likely to have to rely on paid support from KualiCo.
    I have stated my dislike for the gated community of Kuali and the change to KualliCo does nothing but reinforce the gate. A stated need to speed up development time to create a complete open source administrative software suite and a reliance on rent-seeking in the form of vendor lock-in by KualiCo  are very conflicted objectives.
    The Kuali Foundation board installed a chain across a river that flows through their land and then created a collector, KualiCo, to charge passing boats a fee.
    It is my observation that universities challenged by KualiCo have savvy river boat captains navigating the best course for their institutions. Many institutions together will likely dig a canal to divert the river so that they can bypass the rent seeking Kuali foundation free of tolls and have the river benefit the downstream universities in an open and fair way.

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    April 30, 2015 | Filed under: ERP, Higher Education, Kuali, open source and tagged with: , , ,, , ,


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  • Tidbits of 'The Woz' at eLive 2015

    The whole tone and feel of Ellucian Live 2015 was a bit different to me.  I attend the CIO Forum and the first day and a half of the regular conference.   Some of you will be shocked I am saying this because of various things I have written or tweeted over the years, but there were pieces of eLIve 2015  where it seemed as though maybe…..just maybe that Ellucian may finally be getting it all together after the merger a few years ago.   I still don’t excuse them for not being able to provide services in a more timely manner and costs associated with many of their tools are still too high but they certainly have made some good moves.
    I had a terrible flight in for the eLive CIO forum (delayed flights created a 3:30AM arrival for the 8:00AM start), got a piece of fuzz in my eye that I couldn’t get out for awhile (ouch) and I just have felt a bit run down, but things got better quickly.   The “Secret Guest Keynote Speaker” for the opening session of eLive 2015 morning was Steve Wozniak, who along with Steve Jobs co founded Apple Computer. The Woz was the best keynote speaker I have heard in the past 20 years. Here are a few tidbits from that meeting. I thought I would give my FB friends a sneak preview.
    “And that is that…. just means The Woz is starting another story
    Note to self…Never follow the Woz as a speaker
    Living Proof the that the best delivery needs no visuals
    The Woz grabbed the audience early and never let g
    Didn’t know the Woz taught 5th grade for a little while after he left Apple
    Silicon Valley was just fruit orchards when Woz was a kid
    The Woz design computers on paper when he didn’t think he could ever afford the parts
    The Woz took a year off following his sophomore year to earn his 3rd year of college as to not burden his parents
    The Woz got his degree under a fake name after his successful time at Apple
    Wozniak isms
    “H=Fcubed = Food, Fun & Friends”
    “My biggest challenge was getting the faculty to listen to me when I had a good idea” (from Woz as a student)
    “Whereever the brightest people work… they don’t lock their doors” (this was invaluable in gaining access to learn stuff)
    “The higher up you go is usually dependent upon how nice you are to people”
    “The reason we got stuff done fast….We had no lawyers”
    “Don’t believe that movie with Ashton Kutcher, it’s so…. UGH.”
    “Five cents was my standard rate for everything”
    “I was too shy to ask if I could go to the conference( some tech event a long time ago) even though I was the co founder”
    “I always wanted to be a knowledge based person”
    “Sometimes when you challenge the impossible your don’t succeed, but you learn from it.
    ” A young person wants human guidance”
    “My mind just goes off on whatever I am thinking about” (at which point Ellucian CEO Jeff Ray just chucked his question list across the stage, perfect timing and reaction)
    “Steve Jobs died wishing he were more technical
    “The one who changes the world is not the one with the idea, but the one who puts it into practice””I am glad Apple is smart financially…Smarter than the US Government”
    “The human is more important than the computer”
    “I want to interact with date in a human way and have the computer understand me”
    “I wonder if our phone will recognize our emotions”
    “I wish I had an hour more” (and so did all 8000 people in the room)
    “Your the best, Your Important”

  • Everyone Hates Their ERP except the Kuali Community…at least for now

    A question begets a question, which begets a question, thus I will  follow up from my last post with a few thoughts and a few more questions I have seen via various channels such as Twitter and blogs.  
    I have observed the Kuali Community for years now, using both Jenzabar and Ellucian’s Colleague, while at the same time thinking:
    ‘there has to be a better way.’  
    I don’t think I have ever been to one of the commercial ERP vendors meetings, executive briefings, or other gatherings where many people were happy.  Sure there are always few happy campers, but for the most part my observations are that people’s feelings about their core administrative system range from simple frustration to cursing, snarling, spitting, and having to leave the room for a smoke break.  Both observations are true and recent.  Watching commentary on Twitter I would say that the ‘buzz’ about “Kuali Inc.” is a good sign of a passionate concerned community.  Jason Hibbets writes on about open source that it is not a
    “special tool or the way we have conversations on IRC or mailing lists.”
    Rather it’s something that each and every individual brings to their open source community every day.  
    “The secret ingredient that really makes open source work is passion.”
    In spite of the handicap of not having the Kuali Student module nor in the HR / Payroll pieces, what has been accomplished has been quite remarkable. The Kuali Community is certainly passionate about software which has been built by “higher ed for higher ed”.  Hibbets article also confirms an observation that the most common thread between highly successful communities such as Drupal and  Apache is that they are also very passionate about their respective project. Although, I would also acknowledge that there have been many passionate failures, so passion is not the only factor. Passion joined with a common goal is a powerful combination. With the Foundation’s addition of a for-profit arm, retaining that passion may become the real challenge.
    Let’s first start with some things most people who read this post can agree on:

    1) The overall ERP marketplace for higher ed is BROKEN
    2) Everyone hates their ERP except the Kuali people…at least for now
    3) Kuali is the only interesting thing to happen in higher ed ERP in years.
    4) Licensing costs are out of control.  
    5) IT is in a better position to save money for institutions of Higher Ed than any other organizational area in higher ed (This post shows where I stole this thought:
    6) Everyone knows Kuali is going to still be open source.  There will be some debate whether AGPL is the correct path but there are pros and cons no matter the path.
    Here are some additional thoughts related to my little part of the world:

    1) Some institutions will fail even if they do everything right. I have seen what is happening in rural communities. Outmigration, aging demographics, etc  I don’t think this is just blowing smoke.
    2) Ellucian’s effort to merge Datatel and Sungard is noble, but they can’t continue to support 3 product lines (Banner, Colleague & Power Campus). What is occurring in this part of the commercial ERP space is simply not sustainable.  I really hope Kuali succeeds and that there will there will be reasonable alternatives in the future. The survival of some institutions will depend on it.
    3) Extensibility, as in Ellucian XE, is not quite “All Hat No Cattle” (Thought I would use that one since I am from a rural agricultural state)  but is certainly not as easy and open as they say. The for profit nature will ultimately force some decisions in favor of profitability rather than what is best for the community.  I think this will be better in the Kuali world no matter the path, but the availability of great middleware such as Kuali Rice which allows you to ultimately choose and attach the best available tool will be very important.
    4) The cloud is the future but is not really quite there in terms of value. The market has some work to do to bring this to reality.
    Here are some things I have observed people wanting to know about related to the ‘buzz’ about the change to Kuali Inc.  
    Chris Coppola from rSmart offered the following as fact in his post yesterday:  
    Kuali will continue to engage colleges and universities in a way that it always has
    Kuali will continue to be driven by higher education

    How will Kuali Continue to engage college and universities in a way that it always has?  If a fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case, and the usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, then this is off the mark. Maybe speculation or hope but fact?
    Kuali will continue to be driven by higher education….but so will Ellucian, Peoplesoft etc.  There seems to be some denial that a profit motive will fundamentally change how the community interacts.

    Examples of how the outside world sees this fundamental change are similar to the one expressed by Matt Reed on Inside Higher Ed,

    I had great hopes for Kuali, the open-source embryonic ERP, which was why the story that it’s becoming a for-profit vendor itself was so disappointing. Rather than developing as the badly needed alternative that it could, it’s likely now to become another variation on Banner.

    Isn’t the timing weird?   
    Phil Hill says on his e-Literate post earlier this week,

    The changes announced on Friday come less than two months after the first community strategy meeting, so I have trouble seeing the meetings as the cause and the Friday changes as the effect. There is reason to believe that the changes have been in the works prior to June of this year.

    If Kuali’s biggest selling point over the past few years is that they are not a commercial company then what now is Kuali’s biggest selling point?
    In  Brad Wheeler’s summary of the August 1, 2014 strategy meetings he says:

    We need to accelerate completion of our full suite of Kuali software applications, and to do so we need access to substantially more capital than we have secured to date to meet this need of colleges and universities.

    If the need is more capital and if you won’t go to VCs or Private Equity firms but would rather rely on university foundations so you won’t have to be beholden to shareholders, then you could have remained a non-profit but organize and operate like a software company. You could have started charging for the premium version of the software with value-added options and create other revenue streams.  You could do all that without losing your biggest selling points as a anti-commercial, non-profit entity for universities by universities.  Instead, now, you are essentially stating: we are just another for-profit with a severely handicapped, incomplete product suite.
    The Kuali Community can thank their lucky stars and a deeply involved passionate community for the success thus far. The establishment of the Foundation, creating an eco system of Commercial Affiliates and utilizing the skills and passion of those whose tails are on the front line, aka the community at large, has allowed Kuali to create the great software products they have thus far.  Many stories document that even though the availability of open source software has greatly increased, success stories such as Linux, Apache and hopefully Kuali, are the exception rather than the rule.

  • Kuali Questions Continue at Educause

    It’s been a little over a month since the Kuali Foundation announced the formation of a for-profit Kuali entity. My reflection upon all the conversation flying about regarding the new Kuali commercial company was renewed this past week during Educause 2014.   Educause is the premier higher education technology conference held every fall and conversations during this event have just got me to thinking.
    Prior to living and working in Wyoming I lived in Oklahoma for more than a decade.  Living in Oklahoma for such a long time gives you a chance on occasion to encounter a tornado.  People were always commenting on how they couldn’t live there as tornados would terrify them.  My response was always,  

    When it’s storming you just sleep with your shoes by the bed.  

    The general meaning is that one should be ready no matter what happens.  Because we have made a small deployment of Kuali Coeus for our grants office we were set to participate further with the community and write a check to allow my institution to become a member of the foundation. With recent changes I am not sure which path we will take, but I want to be ready…no matter what happens.  Let’s start today’s conversation with an oft-stated tenet of community source and thus the Kauli World

    If you bring the gold then you make the rules.

    I guess I had drunk the Kool-Aid about “those who bring the gold make the rules” in spite of the fact that I never really believed that this community could call itself open source.  Inviting, cordial, brilliant and dedicated….but I mean who ever heard of an open source community you had to pay to be a part of.
    At any rate, I lived happily in Tornado Alley literally and in a professional sense for a small rural broke institution for the better part of my professional life.  Professionally as budgetary storms came and went I stuck my toe in open source waters almost a decade ago. My observation in general about open source is that works and it is a game changer if an institution is willing to commit to that path when it makes sense.
    After some real success with open technology I essentially jumped all in, Moodle for LMS, The Digium distribution of Asterisk for phones, Linux here and there.  I even had the privilege of building and piloting an introductory computer course in which we used Open Office as the primary software tool and gave away a free open textbook. What a glorious delight it was to give the book away.  I am so pleased to see many OER projects working to keep student costs down.  I don’t recall regretting any of those decisions. Planning, communication, hard work, professional networking and a little luck have all been key in making sure those decisions worked out.
    After years of observation, I recently stuck my toe in the Kuali water and had begun to think about ways to jump all the way to improve on the nightmare that is commercial ERP software.  A conversion of administrative software in my estimation is the most difficult conversion of all if you can even get past institutional or consortial politics if you are dealing with multiple institutions.
    I have stated reasons for this line of thinking before but will enumerate those again below:

    1.    The overall ERP marketplace for higher education is BROKEN
    2.    Everyone* hates their ERP except the Kuali people…at least for now
    3.    Kuali is the only interesting thing to happen in higher ed ERP in years.
    4.    Licensing costs are out of control.
    5.    IT is in a better position to save money for institutions of Higher Ed than any other organizational area in higher ed (This post shows where I stole this thought:

    With all that said, back to Kuali.  The plethora of blogs, articles, social media comments and most recently reported interaction at the 2014 Educause conference show a gap between what the Kuali Board and Foundation have communicated and what people perceive to be happening.  Yes ladies and gentlemen  I believe we have a Kuali Communications Chasm.
    Kuali has spent its entire existence denouncing the methods and motives of commercial administrative software and there is much discussion about the community meetings this summer.    Even if the summer meetings were the birthplace of all these changes  it is hard to believe that more communication was not done in preparation for such a drastic departure from the community mantra which essentially has been “commercial software is evil” This has been touted from day one of the announcement of the Kuali Commercial Software in 2004  If you go back and review the various versions of Kuali 101 available on Youtube this is obvious.
    As so aptly pointed out by Phil Hill in his post of August 25, 2014, it is hard to accept Kuali’s position that formation of was based upon the two Kuali community meetings in June and July.   So why is the broader community and those wishing to become part of the broader community so inquisitive?   I would tend to suggest it has a lot to do with the direction the funding many of Kuali community partners have provided,  the radical and rushed departure from what has been meandering communication from the board.   
    Pat Burns who is CIO at Colorado State is a wonderfully likable fellow who has more than once generously offered to host a Wyoming contingent to demonstrate their amazing success in deploying Kuali tools.  He wrote a post last week: “The Fifth ‘S’ – Strategy” where he states
    “Now is the time to form the best KualiCo we can, hire the best person to lead that company that we can, trust them to work out the details, and GO!”
    A total transformation of a community effort without an extensive communication plan and business plan is not a strategy.  As thorough as the planning, documentation and record keeping were for the .org  it seems out of character to jump into this other venture without some significant planning and at least the appearance of a business plan.
    Listening to various conversations it seems the plan is in the works but the multitude of conversations it certainly not settled.  As the new CEO Joel Dehlin indicated during the Educasue CIO session.  The commercial entity is not even a legal entity yet because of a few technical details.
    As big a fan as I have been of Kuali  I am not surprised that many are skeptical about such an intelligent and inventive group not understanding that a comprehensive business plan and “patient communication” would be required to keep the community intact during such an extraordinary about-face in the overall philosophy of the project.   
    The question of the initial source of reserves to be used as funding for Kualico is addressed as Brad clearly states that “The Foundation will provide initial capital investment for the company out of its reserves.”  Clear enough.  That is, until you ask what is the revenue source for the Foundation’s reserves?  Is it not the financial contributions of the Kuali members, namely the partner colleges and universities?  Current reserves come from the membership dues paid.  Such financial contributions entitle the universities to exercise influence over the Kuali’s organization and products. If those who paid the gold to make the rules didn’t really get to make the rules then why would anyone in the future trust that their investment would really buy input into the project.  I don’t think my other institution would be opposed to investing if truly we would get input equity.  However, the events of the last month or so create a chasm the reality of what is happening and the perception of what is happening. If it is true perception is reality then Kuali as a community has a problem.
    A statement in the exchange of comments from an October 2, 2014 Inside Higher Education article sums up the feeling of many.
    “I certainly understand the need to adjust models as the market progresses. But the Kuali Foundation raised funds as a non-profit with a stated goal of building a community. Now those funds are being used to (a) fund a KualiCo and (b) “encourage” the community members to become “customers” of KualiCo. If Kuali Foundation refunded membership dues, had no equity in KualiCo and allowed KuaiCo to do all of the talking… about the new enterprise then I would be completely unconcerned and very supportive. But as structured, it seems like a hasty misappropriation of non-profit funds and fiduciary conflict-of-interest for those board members who are voting to spend non-profit funds to invest in a for-profit company and then marketing that company to its own members.”
    As I reviewed again Brad Wheeler’s blog post of August 22, 2014 in which he answered FAQs about the new for-profit company, there are a number of statements I still wonder about.
    The term patient capital is a curious one light of the stated desire to accelerate development.  The memberships and project contributions of this community over the first 10 years of the project have always been the real patient capital.    The Kuali Community has always been all about patient capital and has been supported by patient capital.  So to say there is going to be a reliance on patient capital to support accelerated development in the commercial wing creates a bit of disjoint at best.   It might even be possible that erosion of the goodwill of the existing community and skepticism of the advantages of future memberships actually defeats the intended goal of accelerating development.  
    Since is being established by using monies contributed by the partners, it seems reasonable the investing partners will exercise influence over the evolving organization and functional/technical priories of the .com.  I worry about this from my observation of the Ellucian Community Source Initiative. In my experience community and for-profit don’t march smoothly hand in hand Essentially what happens with the Ellucian Community Source initiative is that some Ellucian clients do work, contributed it back to the “community” for Ellucian to maintain and Ellucian then has one more tool which they can turn into billable hours for their clients…er I mean their community.  
    So if I approve the writing of the check to become a member and contribute something significant is my reward ultimately having to pay to access that significant contribution from Kualico.   I do not want to write a check and not have the fundamental right influence the project.  The bigger issue here for me isn’t the money and my little pittance of a membership due would be insignificant in the whole picture.   The issue is that what I would have written a check for on July 1 is fundamentally different than what I would have gotten for that investment following the August announcement.  For more than a few of the long term big dollar investors I would think this would be a scalable problem.