OSSCOM aims at supporting PC institutions to strongly link with enterprises, with a goal to build large-scale OSS resources, knowledge, and expertise through a network of OSS communities. The main aspects of the project are:
Equally, OSS allows addressing different relevant aspects related to the definition and objectives of open source in education, including different business models, digital divide, copyright, intellectual property, software piracy, and information society inclusion and exclusion. The learning resources at PC institutions will undergo a modernization process to accommodate new development investigated in OSS technologies. The diverse domain expertise developed in the PC in OSS will create a framework for modernization and revisions. Some of the activities of the project focus on development of material to create a new trend in the teaching and learning at PC institutions. OSSCOM consortium members are fully dedicated to the concept of the project.
The project is not focusing on implementing open source software, but rather on developing partnership with enterprises to facilitate access to open source software products, collect and document knowledge and experiences, and adapt variety of software applications to regional requirements. Participating institutions in the PC will cooperate in building and sharing excellence in OSS. PC institutions will create hubs of knowledge in OSS for building communities in emerging technological trends.
These centers coordinate their development efforts and specialization. Each center builds specific competencies for a well-defined area and makes its knowledge available. To do so, common servers are built up to provide OSS support services, content, as well as access to knowledge and information repositories.
The local centers of excellence build up local free and open source communities and are responsible to make available resources and support services. Communities regularly organize workshops for local participants to share products, ideas and knowledge. The local centers will play a major role in promoting the concept of OSS as an alternative feasible solution to proprietary software. The structure of the centers will be based on powerful computing machines, running portal integration software, knowledge/information repository, and a kind of Wiki for OSS technologies and terminologies. All centers will comprise as a one powerful computing infrastructure hosting varieties of OSS applications, products and development projects. The infrastructure will also be available for education communities for further collaboration. For future plans, the infrastructure will be linked with the larger Arab e-Infrastructure and other OSS communities.
On this basis, the technical prerequisite of the centers requires building powerful computing infrastructure. In each center, an array of servers will need to be installed. As outlined in the proposal, each center will have 12 eight-core blade servers with 64G RAM each and large storage capacity, configured as a network storage, with tape auto-load backup system, and supplementary networking equipment for connectivity. This setup is needed for the project success and is based on a concrete need for powerful computing infrastructure to be locally administered and managed in a decentralized manner. The setup will be a nucleus for an OSS driven cloud computing system for faculty, students, and communities.
The activities of the project include several coordination visits, infrastructure set-up, gathering information and knowledge, staff exchange, OSS material development, building communities, workshops, seminars, and innovation efforts for more entrepreneurs in OSS in PC region. Students involved in some of the project activities will be selected based on their interest, passion, and enthusiasm about OSS technologies, in addition to their academic achievements and qualifications. The monitoring and quality control process will focus on intended outputs and will be based on a series of benchmark activities throughout the lifetime of the project. Evaluations will take place immediately after activities and will use focus groups and feedback questionnaires to assess the quality of the training experience, its learning outcomes, reconstructed learning and institutional impact. Peer reviews of content will be arranged. OSSCOM members will monitor progress on project activities through a reporting system to be installed. Progress and summary reports will be published internally and circulated among the members. There will be half-year budget reviews and annual audits. Recommendations for modifications and improvements will be regularly made to ensure progress and success of the project. On-site inspections, monitoring, and periodical reports will assure the quality control. The opinions of participants are important feedback mechanism and effective tools in the evaluation and development process of OSSCOM.
The quality level of the project will be monitored during and the lifetime of the project. Each implementation stage will be qualitatively estimated and a proper quantification value will be derived. After the project lifetime, graduate students, research and industrial collaborations, and local community recipients will assess the major outcomes of the project through a continuous monitoring procedure, to follow the progress and quality of these outputs.
The objectives and outcomes of the project are of vital importance to the communities, enterprises and institutions. The outcomes are expected to align with the strategic plans of ministries towards stronger links between universities and enterprises and increased access to ICT and OSS resources. Establishing communities of practice in OSS will help not only in overcoming access barriers, but also in introducing affordable technology solutions. Therefore, OSSCOM activities and outcomes will not be limited to participating institutions, but rather disseminated to PC institutions and communities at large. OSS applications and services will be extended to include professionals, engineers, and staff members of governmental institutions. OSS technology support services and local content development will be openly published on OSSCOM web portal. Disseminating knowledge and experiences will create new prospective professionals and entrepreneurs. It will also allow for more multicultural diversity among EU and the PC institutions. White papers will be published on regular basis to point out issues of concern in open source technologies and for creating awareness on the potential of OSS.