[Osmf-talk] The role of face-to-face meetings in the future of the OSMF board

Simon Poole simon at poole.ch
Mon Oct 27 18:32:39 UTC 2014


Am 27.10.2014 17:21, schrieb Joseph Reeves:
>>Likely the better way of understanding the tweet would have been: "do
>>you think spending $150k to avoid a very short outage is worth it?"
> As someone involved in this original twittering, I didn't read the
> message like that. Sure $150k is a lot of money to keep the DB available
> during a planned reboot, but it would appear to be a very small amount
> of money to spend in order to keep the OSM database online if something
> catastrophic was to happen to the server it currently lives on. This
> weekend's interruption was brief; there has been larger interruptions in
> the past and there's always the possibility that Something Bad is going
> to unexpectedly happen. I'm sure that database replication could also
> lead to some powerful use cases that aren't available to us yet:
> Performance improvements in places far from London, perhaps.

I'm not going to argue the OWGs case here, but your impression that
there is no database replication is not correct, it just isn't quite
that simple.

In my personal estimation further reducing the small amount of downtime
that we have by any noticeable amount is not primarily a hardware issue
(and as that not a question of capex spend) and would directly increase
the OSMFs operating costs by a large -factor-, not out of the range that
could be obtained, but a sizeable amount.

Which brings us back to financing. As I've pointed out many times, there
are significant amounts of money available for (OSS) projects in an OSM
context, however I'm fairly sure that there are some not so high limits
to financing OSMF operating costs via donations from charities and
similar organisations*.

In a nutshell: why should charity X donate to OSMs operations to reduce
costs for <your fav Web 2.0 company, PND device manufacturer, ...>?

OK you could say, then companies profiting from OSM should pay their
share of keeping OSM running. Our volunteers are already pitching in the
equivalent of 8-digit $ sums per year, surely the companies/their
shareholders could together contribute a million or so?

Now besides the organisational issues I point out here
http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/SimonPoole/diary/25977 , we shouldn't
kid ourselves: most businesses are going to use/are using OSM because it
is cheaper than google, free as in free beer, not for any altruistic

Historically, with really just a handful of notable exceptions (please
see the OSMF blog for their names), company donations and contributions
to our operating costs have been a fail, even most of our hardware has
been financed by our mappers. What has been a success have been software
contributions from companies as Richard Fairhurst has pointed out and we
are clearly all grateful for the support that OSM has received over the

Contrary to the WMF which managed to get rid of any potential
competitors early on and whose fund raising is essentially just a
question of marketing, OSM operates in a competitive market with at
least three large billion to multi-billion $ global competitors, not to
mention the smaller and state owned ones. The cost of our product is not

Now as we all know we are operating at the very low end from an
expenditure point of view, beefing up some things is clearly possible
without spending lots of money, we just have to be clear that we are not
operating in a vacuum.


* AFAIK we have actually never received such a donation at all, neither
to a donation drive nor to operational costs.

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