[Linux-aus] The case for an established product to replace MemberDB
kathy at kathyreid.id.au
Thu Jan 22 15:24:09 AEDT 2015
There's been some excellent debate here about the future of MemberDB,
and whether a mature product - possibly CiviCRM, but not necessarily -
should be favoured over a collection of lower level utilities.
I'd like to make the case for an established product.
Maintability and supportability
While less mature tools and utilities may do the job - and do the job
well - and even do *exactly* the job we want them to do, they fall down
when it comes to maintenance and supportability. We have a small team of
people who work on ZooKeepr - which is an integral part of running
linux.conf.au - and both getting new people up to speed and willing to
commit unpaid time to maintenance is difficult. We all have day
If we were to go down the road of a mature product, then the support
ecosystem would be one of the selection criteria. If necessary, we could
buy in the skills to maintain and support the product, and
*documentation* for the product is likely going to also be more
comprehensive, lowering the barrier to entry of those who may wish to
volunteer time to maintain it.
Alignment with values
Linux Australia supports open communities and open technologies, and
contributes to the open source industry and ecosystem in Australia and
New Zealand. I feel that it's actually a closer alignment to our values
to support and adopt an existing mature product - even if we need to pay
to do so - than to build another tool which will likely entropy over
time - as MemberDB has.
Feature set and applicability
If LA were to adopt a mature tool, the feature set is likely to be much
richer - even if we don't use all of it. There will likely be use cases
we hadn't though of as the organisation evolves and our remit changes -
and to have a mature product established is likely to give us more
flexibility. A mature toolset is also likely to have wider applicability
to the LUGs who are Subcommittees of Linux Australia - and therefore
entitled to leverage LA's infrastructure.
Cost of ownership
This argument is somewhat contentious. A mature product may have an
initial cost - for purchase, or installation consultancy -and for
ongoing maintenance and upgrades, depending if it's hosted on LA servers
or hosted somewhere in the cloud. However, the TCO of a non-mature
product comes from the loss of productivity in being able to do all the
things we'd like to do with a Membership system, and possibly the
competing technologies it would be written in. For instance,
linux.org.au is on Drupal. The people administering it - Web Team,
Council etc - are going to be the same people who use the tools and
utilities. Let's make it easy for the people who volunteer their time to
Linux Australia to do what they need to do, rather than having to switch
between multiple systems.
Linux Australia is incorporated under the Incorporations Act of NSW, and
administered by the NSW Office of Fair Trading. There are a number of
requirements this legal framework places upon LA - which are generally
very reasonable. They include the ability to do good reporting on
membership, and ensure currency of membership. A mature product is both
more likely to allow us to achieve compliance, and further - and
distinctly - demonstrate that we are compliant.
I warmly welcome further discussion around this point.
kathy at kathyreid.id.au
0418 130 636
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