Apereo Newsletter - March 2019
Deadline for the April edition will be April 8, with publication on or around April 15. Send your contributions along to!

From the Executive Director

Advocating Openness

As part of Apereo strategic development work, the foundation is increasing the effort it applies to advocacy. There are three core elements to this work – advocacy for open source software, and openness in general; advocacy for open source software in the specific context of education; and advocacy for Apereo itself. Early efforts can be found on in The Value of Open Source Software,The Value of Open Source Software for Education, and Why You Should Join Apereo In this issue of the Apereo Newsletter, Board member Anne-Marie Scott writes about open source and procurement. We want our advocacy work to meet the needs of the Apereo community and to help you advocate for open source in your institution. To do that, we need community feedback. Let us know your opinion via the Apereo open list (learn how to join at, and let us know what topics you would like to see covered in future pieces. Better still, do you have a take on open source advocacy you could contribute? Every contribution will be valued!

Welcome Tirasa!

Apereo has a new Commercial Affiliate in identity management and physical access control. Tirasa (, based in Colonna, Italy make major use of CAS in their work. Great to have you on board!

Join Friends of Apereo!


The Apereo Foundation and its projects have been at the forefront of creating and sustaining software in service of education.  Apereo extends membership to individuals through the Friends of Apereo program. This program allows individuals to support our community programs and activities.  

By making a small contribution that will be dedicated to our support programs, Friends of Apereo can help make a difference. In return, we'll help you stay in touch by providing discounted access to Apereo events and by giving Friends a say in how Apereo is run by voting for a reserved Friends of Apereo board seat.

Apereo's work has touched countless learners, teachers and researchers worldwide, helping to both extend access to learning opportunities, and enriching them. Please help us sustain and extend that by becoming a Friend of Apereo today.

Individual memberships are available for $100.   Joining is easy at

Individual membership supports the work of the Foundation as a whole.  If you'd like to direct your gift to a specific Apereo Project, please specify the details using the special instructions section in PayPal.

Thank you for your continued support of the Apereo Foundation!

Open Thinking

How To Procure Open Source Software

By Anne-Marie Scott, University of Edinburgh

** This is a shortened form of an original blog post available here: **

As part of my work as a Board member of the Apereo Foundation, we’ve been working on new content to more clearly make the case for adopting open source, particularly in education. This is a topic close to my heart. So close in fact I gave a talk back in 2010 at what was then the Jasig annual conference about how to “procure” open source solutions. Whilst the example I used in my presentation is old now, the approach I took is still sound, and since I continue to hear the same concerns about the practical difficulties of procurement processes, and how to actually get open source options onto campus, I’m going to revisit it briefly here.

The first thing to address straight off the bat is the question of how to get open source via an RFP / competitive procurement process. The simple answer is that you don’t.

That’s comparing apples with pears and most open source projects are not resourced at a level that allows them to easily bid into an RFP process. Also, in the EU and I imagine elsewhere, where a piece of software is free to use for the whole of its life, there’s simply no requirement to use a competitive procurement process.

However, it is still important to look at whole life costs in particular to be certain that (a) open source is going be the best value for money; and (b) there isn’t a need for commercial support and maintenance contracts that does need to be procured through a commercial tender process. It’s also important to look at risks and sustainability. In the same way as you would inspect the financial standing of a commercial supplier, you need to do an assessment of the long term viability and sustainability of your preferred open source option. Finally, you do still need to do due diligence on functional fit.

So, how to get started? Every decision to invest in a new system should start with some market analysis to understand broadly what’s out there, who’s already playing in this space, what the major points of differentiation are, and how aligned to your strategic needs and goals the market seems to be. Understanding this is vital to controlling your procurement and getting the right result, and it’s in this phase that you should be considering open source options as well as commercial options.

There are many reasons for why open source might be a better fit than a commercial offering, not least of which are innovation, influencing direction of travel, and avoiding vendor lock-in. If you think that open source might well be the best fit for your institution, then it’s still important to do that full assessment to check this thinking. Although open source requires a different sort of investment (people time, rather than cold hard cash) we are still investing in institutional systems, and probably using public money to do so, and so we care about all the same things including functional fit, sustainability, roadmap, ability to influence product development, and total cost of ownership.

Your market analysis should already have generated a set of requirements and high level weightings that you would have worked up as the basis for a competitive procurement process. You should also have a rough idea of book price for the various commercial options out there. This is what you should be using to assess functional fit of your chosen open source option too (indeed you may be assessing more than one option – for example there are multiple open source options within the LMS space).

Beyond that you will need to look at using an open source maturity model to assess total cost of ownership and long term sustainability. There are a number of them out there, most of them quite long in the tooth, but still pretty sound. There’s a short but useful paper from 2017 that does a quick comparison across them and the conclusion has some useful observations which would help combine the various features of each to get something fit for purpose: “It has been observed that all existing OSS maturity models selection guidelines follow similar criteria. All maturity models does not focus on interoperability except EOSS. For any component to be considered as enterprise ready interoperability must be needed.

Open BRR, N-OSMM and C-OSMM does not consider IT management and administration as a criteria whereas QSOS consider IT management under training, consulting and support criteria. C-OSS does not count on weighted score method

In order to take advantage of OSS properly, it is recommended to propose a new framework / model that will eliminate the weakness of all models.” (Comparison of open source maturity models)
There are also a number of old, but still very relevant advice articles from the OSSWatch project:
By this stage you should have a set of documents that assess functional fit, demonstrate that choosing open source is good value for money (whether that means cheaper, or better fit for comparable money), and assess the long term sustainability and risks for going open. You have had to do a chunk of this work yourself, rather than relying on a commercial company to fill out the paperwork; however, I’ve never yet met a procurement that didn’t require substantial clarifications, so I’m to be convinced this is a whole lot more effort in the long run.

What I can’t be prescriptive about is what institutional governance processes you might have to use to get approval once you’ve done this work. However I do believe that this is a credible way of approaching the adoption of open source that can be aligned well with institutional needs and strategies and allay concerns about sustainability and support in ways that are well evidenced.
New Sakai Blog from Longsight! Check out the most recent entries,

Upcoming Events

Apereo Africa

Join us for the 2019 Apereo Africa Conference at the University of Cape Town in South Africa from April 15-17, 2019.

Please register before March 20 at:

Contact: for any queries.

Briefing for openEQUELLA - Q1 Update

Mark your calendars for the next Unicon openEQUELLA briefing. We will be discussing community news, highlights, and updates on openEQUELLA. We will also share details about development the Unicon openEQUELLA team has been working on through funding made possible by Unicon's Open Source Support subscribers.

Date: Thursday, April 11, 2019
Time: 9am PDT, 10am MDT, 11am CDT, 12pm EDT
Webinar Information:

If you were unable to join us for the 2018 Q4 briefing held in January, please check out the subsequent blogpost here:

Save the date: Open Apereo 2019 

Los Angeles, CA | June 2-6, 2019

Open Apereo 2019 is a practitioners event. Learn how higher education is using open-source software to help deliver the academic mission, control costs, and retain the capacity to innovate. Share your own experience. Join us at Open Apereo 2019 at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, Los Angeles, California, USA (Sunday, June 2nd to Thursday, June 6th 2019).

Conference Website -

Project News

Tsugi Achieves LTI Advantage Certification

Tsugi ( is one of the first learning tools to achieve a brand-new certification for an interoperability standard from IMS Global called LTI Advantage, continuing the longtime leadership of open source learning projects in the Apereo Foundation ( in standards and interoperability.  Tsugi is an application library that allows rapid development of standards-compliant learning applications.

Tsugi certification coupled with the recent Sakai certification completes an open source end-to-end solution for both the Platform and Tool versions of the LTI Advantage specification. Open Source implementations allow proprietary vendors to examine source code and have an endpoint for regular interoperability testing.

Apereo projects like Tsugi and Sakai benefit the entire marketplace whether or not a school adopts the software that is produced as part of Apereo.

– Charles Severance, Founder Sakai and Tsugi Projects

The Tsugi project provides a free test server that allows LMS vendors like Sakai, Blackboard, Canvas and Desire2Learn to do regular LTI Advantage interoperability testing with a scalable production LTI Advantage compliant educational application store.

Read More

Opencast News

Opencast 6.3 Release

Opencast 6.3, released on March 5, is the latest maintenance release in the 6.x series of stable releases. It contains bugfixes and a few major performance improvements over previous versions.

Opencast Architecture Working Group

The Opencast community has formed a number of architecture working groups to look at the current technology stack and check if any problems can be identified with the current usage or with the compatibility of upcoming technologies (e.g. cloud readiness, storage, data model, etc.). All community members interested in this effort are invited to participate and join the call in our BigBlueButton. Please watch the list for announcements of a particular sub-group meeting.

Reminder: 2019 North-American Opencast workshop

First responses make it likely for the workshop to happen in Boston in the fall of 2019. If that suits you, please indicate your interest in participating by filling out the form at  

Opencast adoption

While it’s hard to tell with OSS, we took a stab at identifying Opencast adopters ( to go with the map of registers users to our repo at  

Sakai 12.6 Release

I'm pleased to announce on behalf of the worldwide community that Sakai 12.6 was released on March 5, 2019 and is currently available for downloading!

Sakai 12.6 has 116 improvements including

  • 29 fixes in Gradebook

  • 19 fixes in Assignments

  • 13 fixes in Tests & Quizzes (Samigo)

  • 11 fixes in Lessons

There were 3 security issue fixed in 12.6 (details will be sent to the Sakai Security Announcements list).

Read more


Recap: ESUP-Days #27 / Apereo Paris 2019

Last month, the sixth annual ESUP-Days/Apereo Paris conference took place, a joint event organized by the ESUP-Portail Consortium and the Apereo Foundation. And once again, it turned out to be a great success!

This year’s conference was an opportunity to catch up on the latest news from both communities. It also featured highly valuable sessions on projects like Karuta, OpenCast, uPortal, OAE, ...

Other presentations centered on solutions/projects developed in France around group management and collaboration/dematerialization of contents.

All sessions were recorded and, thanks to the amazing work of our translators, full English versions are now available.

Check out the videos (and/or the slides) at

-- The Organization Committee

Wanted: Your Institution's Story

Consider submitting a vignette for!

If you’ve not looked at recently, go take a look. On the landing page we’re promoting Apereo sponsored software in a series of what we’re calling “vignettes”. These are short stories and messages about what problems adopters are using Apereo software to help solve. Check out the solutions we’ve highlighted so far!

Have a message about Apereo software you’d like to communicate to others? Why not take five minutes to write a vignette and forward to
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