[Foundation-l] Wikimedia Foundation 2008-2009 Annual Plan

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Thu Jul 3 00:36:15 UTC 2008

On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 7:48 PM, Sue Gardner <sgardner at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> Without speaking on behalf of the tech team necessarily, I would make
> the observation that it seems generally conservative about spending.
> That's not unique to Wikimedia; it's consistently been my experience
> that tech people tend to be fairly cautious spenders.  Our team did not
> want to spend money until it needed to: that is not a bad thing.

Just wanted to underscore Sue's comment here.

I spent a number of years directly in charge of spending a technology
budget of size comparable to Wikimedia's.

The frenetic pace of new technology development, and the fairly short
lead times of equipment vendors strongly favored "just in time"
procurement practices:  I regretted many of my more preemptive

This reality resulted in an occasional bit of tension between myself
and my management, when sometimes I'd find myself two months from the
end of the fiscal year with a couple of hundred thousand still
unspent.... and a resulting scramble to get things taken care of.

Many of the external factors triggering technology purchases are
themselves bursty (new facilities, new applications), further
exacerbating the situation.

If we assume that moore's law applies directly to price/performance
(which isn't a totally outrageous assumption in many cases)  money
differed on technology spending has an annualized return of 60%!
Thats astonishingly good: almost as good as printing money.

Obviously technology spending can't be differed forever, but when the
cards play out in a way which otherwise favors it, technology is
probably the best place to have a capital spending shortfall.

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