[Board] 2009 budget

Howard Butler hobu.inc at gmail.com
Sat Nov 15 16:20:53 PST 2008


After reviewing the draft 2009 budget http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Budget_2009 
  that was proposed and discussed at the AGM, I would like to add my  
noise to the discussion.  First, a few observations:

- More than 50% of our budget is Executive Director ( salary + travel  
+ office ).
- 7.5% of our proposed budget is computing services to our members  
(hosting, server, etc)
- The accounting line seems a bit high to me for a ~200k operation,  
but our operational costs seem reasonable.
- Assuming all of our other costs are fixed (ED, corporate operations,  
computing service), our discretionary funding (minus 1% for a server)  
seems to be in the marketing category  (22%).

The marketing budget http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Marketing_Budget_2009  
is not fleshed out at all.   I think we should have a discussion about  
whether or not marketing OSGeo really represents a return on  
investment to members, member projects and to sponsors.  If this  
discussion already happened, could someone provide a synopsis of the  
main benefits of putting this much marketing muscle behind OSGeo?   
What are the targets of the marketing and can they be hit?

Marketing doesn't write software, it doesn't improve documentation,  
and it doesn't streamline project communication.  I think spending  
most of our discretionary resources on it makes our sometimes dicey  
value proposition even tougher to potential sponsors... "um, pay us  
money so we can make ourselves more visible so we can get more people  
to pay us money."  Does the marketing effort exist to sustain OSGeo?   
I guess I've always had a bit of a problem with the marketing aspect  
of OSGeo, especially when its not at all clear to me who we're  
marketing to other than the general GIS ether and for what purpose.   
IMO, the people using Open Source software are the ones who market it,  
not the people who make the software.  Could the OSGeo marketing  
proponents please set me straight on how I see this all wrong?  How is  
marketing a benefit to OSGeo's members, and not just OSGeo the entity?

Where I'm going with this is in my (biased) opinion, SAC is hurting  
for resources.  We are starting to approach the exhaustion point for  
volunteer administration for a number of tasks (as witnessed by  
tickets sent to SAC that are never acted upon), and we are starting to  
approach the saturation point for hardware resources like the heavily- 
overloaded download.osgeo.org (the "server" item in the budget plans  
to address this).  Our Peer1 resources need to be balanced out to  
provide better utilization, and that will require quite a bit of  
effort.  I personally would like to see us investing some experimental  
efforts into virtual (cloud-like) operations similar to AWS, whether  
via OSL, or virtualization at TelaScience, or other.  Hardware  
management is a headache, and if it can be avoided all the better.     
I would like SAC to be able to draw upon some paid manpower to help  
with some of the stickier tasks that have continued to be pushed off,  
like fixing up our single-signon/LDAP.  As time approaches infinity,  
tasks like these will get done voluntarily, but paid manpower would  
shrink down that timeline and allow us to provide better service.

SAC is a major service wing of OSGeo.  If we provide bad service,  
projects will walk, and we'll loose one of the great collective  
benefits that OSGeo provides.  No amount of marketing gets us out of  
that predicament.  For the board, the questions to ask are where to  
invest our limited resources and when.  SAC will continue to limp  
along, but the more we do that the more we risk having projects leave  
or not simply not participate.  With a flat budget, SAC will continue  
to limp.

If there is generally support for providing more resources to SAC, I  
will come up with a budget proposal of what will likely be required.

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