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Indiana U and U Hawaii Pursue Open Source Help Desk System

Indiana University and the University of Hawaii are wooing partners to help build an open source IT support solution specifically for higher education. Both universities are involved in the Kuali Foundation, which recently announced Kuali Knowledge Management System (KMS), a project currently in incubation to develop a set of IT support components.

The first phase of this project will focus on building a knowledge management system that uses Indiana U's knowledge base as a base and then adds collaboration features to enable institutions to share code and content. The knowledge base at Indiana U currently includes 15,500 documents supporting 100 distinct IT-related services. Answer documents are retrieved, according to the university, on the Web 17.7 million times a year--that is, once every 1.8 seconds.

"Creating a community source knowledge management system that can be shared is a perfect fit as a Kuali Foundation project," said Sue Workman, associate vice president for communication and support at Indiana U. "This above-campus service initiative will make it possible for institutions to work collaboratively and create and maintain documents in a single repository and use them in multiple places. Many of us support the same applications and services--why not leverage the content among us? At IU, including all overhead, our activity-based cost for IT support is $14.19 for a face-to-face consultation and $10 for a phone call. Providing an answer using our KB costs only seven cents."

U Hawaii became involved when it realized that it would need to invest in improving its help desk applications. "We decided that our efforts could be better applied to a project that would achieve more together than any of us would be able to accomplish on our own," explained David Lassner, CIO and vice president for IT. "We are especially excited about a shared, customizable knowledge base that can help students, faculty, and staff anywhere find solutions to common technical problems on their own."

Future phases of this open community development project will focus on additional modules for online support and may address services such as online software distribution, IT systems status notifications, IT facility management, service desk ticketing and integration, and network access management.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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