In a note I recently posted on D'Arcy Norman's blog I pointed out that
Sakai is an integrative framework designed to support collaboration,
research and learning both within and across institutions of higher
education. It is envisioned to serve a variety of
constituencies--instructors and students, researchers, ad hoc work
groups, project teams etc. While Sakai is often portrayed in the
marketplace as a learning management system (LMS) or course management
system (CMS), the Sakai application framework has a broader purpose and
is designed to support the wide variety of collaboration and learning
activities that take place within education and research. Our vision
renders problematic the otherwise easy comparisons drawn by some in
their discussions of Sakai vs. other systems.
Problematic too is the language of competition injected recently into
the discussion. We at the Sakai Foundation do not look upon other open
source initiatives as competitors nor do we regard serving the
education and research communities as a mercantilist exercise where
opportunities are finite and one’s gain is another’s loss. Rather our
aim is to provide open source software alternatives developed
collaboratively and featuring free acquisition and open licensing
designed to encourage innovation, extension and a wide range of use.
While Sakai can be run productively on a single machine, the
community’s focus at present is on enterprise-wide deployments
throughout the world where project and course sites number in the
thousands and the user base ranges from 20,000 to 100,000. In D’Arcy’s
blog I provided an example of our largest enterprise deployment to
date, that being the University of South Africa’s MyUnisa system
launched in January 2006, a rollout ramping up to support 6000+ project
and course sites and a student and faculty population of 83,000+.
UNISA’s hardware/OS configuration is worth noting and features:
4 x HP ProLiant DL380 G4 rack mount servers
1 x Fileserver/NFS/MySQL/DHCP/DNS
1 x LinuxVirtualServer Load Balancer
2 x Diskless Nodes
each having 2 GB RAM and 2 x 3200Mhz CPU
The fileserver runs CentOS 3.6 and the node file system is CentOS 3.3.
The nodes run the following software:
UNISA’s Sakai deployment also features the inclusion of a number of
locally produced tools running under Struts yet fully supported by
Sakai's extensible and interoperable application framework. In the near
future we expect to support tools developed in languages other than
Java such as PHP and PERL.
Large-scale implementations of Sakai's CLE at Indiana University, the
University of Michigan and Yale University as well as those planned at
Portland State University, Rice University, Rutgers, Stanford
University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of
California, Davis, the University of Cambridge and Virginia Tech are
data points of real value to those considering replacing home-grown or
proprietary commercial offerings with an open source alternative. And
if one adds to this list the Open University's recent selection of
Moodle as their enterprise CMS, the greater scope afforded to choice in
the marketplace by the advent of open source initiatives like Sakai and
Moodle is more fully appreciated.
Sakai Foundation / University of Michigan
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