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Open Source Pays Off for Nonprofit


After weeks of work, Foran traced the error to his own typo and made the fix. "It was more a problem of not having a second pair of eyes to look at it and see where the error was," says Foran, who had to configure and troubleshoot the portal solo.

FSW's homegrown database, now available on the portal, includes data from just about every aspect of the organization's operations, including client demographics required for regulatory and funding purposes. It also generates customized reports. "The database securely contains data on everyone who comes through the door so we can report to our funders and government agencies," Foran says.

Open-Source Overhaul

The LifeRay portal is just one of several open-source tools FSW has deployed in a major network and system overhaul this year to help defray the costs of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance. FSW had to re-architect its entire network to meet HIPAA standards (See "The Hard Sell"), which help protect the privacy and security of client health data. The open-source technology saved the nonprofit nearly $100,000 over off-the-shelf alternatives. So far, FSW, whose annual revenue exceeds $10 million, has spent more than $27,000 on new hardware and software for the project, including commercial e-mail and virtualization software for which there were no acceptable open options. The organization plans to spend another $12,000, not including user training, to complete the overhaul.

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