[Foundation-l] [announcement] new staff member in business development

Brion Vibber brion at wikimedia.org
Mon May 21 15:26:18 UTC 2007

Hash: SHA1

Anthony wrote:
> On 5/20/07, Pierre Beaudouin wrote:
>> To be constructive, do you have some ideas to collect more money ? What
>> should be change during the next fundraising ?
> First step is to publicly distribute monthly financial statements and
> a detailed budget which minimizes unnecessary costs.  The rest of the
> details really come from how much if any shortfall results from that.

To be sure, we'd all appreciate a better budgeting process!

> I suspect there won't be any, so long as the budget really does
> minimize unnecessary costs.  Leasing servers instead of purchasing
> them is one factor which should help a great deal.

- From an IT perspective, all I can say on the subject of leasing is that
we've never yet taken machines permanently out of service except
occasionally due to failure beyond repair.

We have continuous, strong growth in all of our service areas. As a
result, as machines age, they eventually change purpose: eg being cycled
from the high-performance general application server pool to cover more
specialized uses as the next generation takes over in the main server pool.

You can visualize it something like this, where groups of new
similarly-specced machines are brought in as functional groups:

Time T:
[A] [B B]
 ^     ^ main processing pool
 | mixed services

Time T+n:
[A] [B B   C C C C]
           ^ new servers added

Time T+2n:
[A   B B] [C C C C   D D D D D D D D]
     ^ older machines moved back to handle other services

Time T+3n:
[A   B B   C C C C] [D D D D D D D D E E E E E E E E E E E E E E ....]

Given a growth pattern where every year requires significantly more
total horsepower than the previous, and a lifecycle where we continue to
get a lot of mileage out of existing machines for years to come by
sliding those machines across the different functional areas, there
seems to be very little interest in leasing instead of simply purchasing

The only benefit I see to leasing would be to lower the initial costs,
allowing money to be spent elsewhere in the short term, but it's not
clear that would apply to our business model as a non-profit:

a) To date, we're said to be taking in most of our money through
fundraisers made for the express purpose of spending it this way -- we
wouldn't have the money if we weren't going to spend it on hardware.

b) It's not clear what else we _have_ to spend money on other than
capital (servers) and operational expenditures (hosting, bandwidth,
office, and a few salaries).

If we were a for-profit startup, I'd say lease the servers and hire more
people, but our current model favors buying servers (easy to drum up
donations for) and using chiefly volunteer labor.

Disclaimer: I'm just a coder; don't take my word on any financial matters.

- -- brion vibber (brion @ wikimedia.org)

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