IU hailed as IT pioneer in CIO 100 Awards

Today (June 1), Indiana University was recognized among the top 100 organizations in the nation by CIO magazine for its leadership in new software development models for higher education. The 22nd CIO 100 Awards recognized the IU Office of the Vice President for Information Technology (OVPIT) for its leadership in developing open source software with dozens of colleges, universities, and commercial partners.

Under the leadership of IU Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Brad Wheeler, IU has co-founded some of higher education’s largest software and service collaboration efforts. These projects are charting a new investment and collaboration model known as Community Source that creates an alternative to buying software or developing it in house.

“In 2003, IU set a strategy to begin building some of its essential systems by pooling resources with other institutions,” said Wheeler. “We saw that the Internet could reduce coordination costs of working together. The sharing of open source application software could deliver essential features while reducing year-to-year costs, and avoid the future risks of large licensing fees and escalating maintenance costs.”

Since then, IU has co-founded the Sakai Project for teaching and learning software, Kuali for financial and other big administrative systems, and HathiTrust for digital copies of scanned books as part of the Google Book Project.

Each of these projects began with just a few investing colleges and universities, but they have now grown to an ecosystem encompassing over $60 million of pooled investment from 50 institutions and 22 commercial firms. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation invested over $9 million to help launch the efforts, and the software is freely available to anyone. Sakai, the oldest of the collaborations, is used and enhanced around the world.

Wheeler, also a professor of information systems in IU’s Kelley School of Business, says that higher education has exactly the right culture for sharing the costs of big systems and rapidly innovating through open collaboration. His predecessor as CIO, now IU President Michael A. McRobbie, embraced the opportunity for IU to lead in this direction with other partners, including the University of Michigan, Cornell, and Stanford. IU remains at the forefront of implementing the large-scale, community-developed software.

Many IU staff co-lead parts of these open source projects to help ensure that IU gets the high-quality software it needs. Wheeler adds, “For IU staff, we are developing 21st-century skills for the network era as we leverage IU investments with the investments of other institutions. It is a new way of thinking and working to rapidly innovate services for research and education with new efficiencies. We are pleased that CIO magazine has recognized IU’s pioneering role in developing these new models for higher education IT.”

The CIO 100 awards will be announced at a ceremony on August 25, 2009, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Honorees will also be included in online awards coverage on CIO.com and in CIO magazine’s CIO 100 special issue published in August 2009.

CXO Media, an award-winning business unit of International Data Group, produces CIO.com, CIO magazine, CIO Executive Programs, CIO Custom Solutions Group, and the CIO Executive Council for chief information officers and other IT leaders.

About the Awards

The CIO 100 awards celebrate 100 organizations — and the people within them — that innovate with information technology to deliver business value. A CIO 100 award is a widely recognized as a mark of enterprise excellence. In a 2003 survey by PR Week magazine, CEOs named the CIO 100 among the top 10 most influential corporate scorecards compiled by a publication or an organization.

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