Unicon supports the Sakai-Jasig merger

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John C. Blakley

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Apr 13, 2012, 12:39:44 PM4/13/12
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Folks,

Unicon will enthusiastically vote Yes on the merger in both
organizations. We think this is the right time and the right way for
these two organizations to come together. As a founding member of both
Jasig and the Sakai Foundation and active contributor to both
communities we see this merger as strongly beneficial to everyone involved.

The economies of scale are significant. Most of the funding derived from
institutional memberships in both organizations (along with most
community volunteer time at the foundation level) is spent on activities
that are orthogonal to the projects themselves. These are important and
supportive services that provide a fruitful environment in which the
projects can thrive, and yet they are virtually identical between the
two organizations. The resulting savings can be spent providing even
better orthogonal services or can be invested more directly in the projects.

The resulting combined organization will be more attractive to
individual and institutional newcomers. It will also attract
higher-ranking people from within the institution because it will become
important enough to be worth their time. There are already a number of
"unaffiliated" projects and communities eager to join the new merged
organization. Some are already starting the incubation process with
Jasig, predicated on the value of the merged organization -- others are
waiting for the dust to settle so they can join once the new entity has
taken shape. Network effects will continue to reinforce each other to
the benefit of all the constituent project and communities, including
the original ones from Sakai and Jasig that started it all.

Even the relative strengths and weaknesses of the organizations are
complimentary. Sakai is evolving into a multi-project organization,
which is something that Jasig has done successfully for many years --
there will be benefit in leveraging the experience of that incubation
community. Jasig projects have generally been infrastructure supporting
the academic mission, but not the core focal point of higher ed in the
way that Sakai projects are -- as part of a merged organization, Jasig
projects will get some visibility to a broader audience that may see
real value.

One key factor in a successful merger is the compatibility of the
cultures involved. Individuals actively participating in both Sakai and
Jasig know how similar they are to each other. The Joint Working Group
members have discovered how similar they are in working together over
the past months. The Conference Committee members have discovered how
similar they are in working together over the past weeks on the first
unified (not just sequential) conference. These are great indicators of
a wise merger.

Finally, to the degree the merger might be distraction to the
organizational leadership, that price has already largely been paid. The
EDs and the Joint Working Group have put a lot of effort in over the
past two years to explore the value of the merger, have determined it is
the right thing to do and this is the right time to do it, and have done
the hard work to make it a reality. It is time to start realizing the
benefits from that investment. The combined conference will be the first
clear example of that with many more to come. There will be more work
ahead to complete the merger and combine some of the operational aspects
of the two organizations, but those will come in areas that need
constant investment and improvement regardless and now we will have
twice the energy to apply to those issues.

This is a strategic move that will pay long-term dividends in terms of
growth and sustainability. Sometimes we have to look up from the
tactical issues in front of us and make some bold decisions to put
ourselves on the right track for years to come. This merger is one of
those bold decisions. This is why Unicon will vote Yes.

Thanks,
Blake

John C. Blakley
CEO
Unicon, Inc.
480-558-2400
bla...@unicon.net


Josh Baron

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Apr 13, 2012, 4:05:55 PM4/13/12
to jasig-sakai-...@googlegroups.com
John,

Many thanks for taking the time to put together such a detailed posting.

It would be great to hear from others as well, either in support or not, over the coming days and weeks as we'd like more community discussion to take place.  To that end, I would encourage those on this list to post questions, comments, etc. related to John (or others' recent postings) as means to continue the dialog.

Josh

-----------------------------
Joshua Baron
Senior Academic Technology Officer
Marist College
Poughkeepsie, New York  12601
(845) 575-3623 (work)
Twitter: JoshBaron

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