Christian: Robert, thank you so much for joining us today.
Robert: My pleasure, very excited.
Christian: Today, we have Robert Jacobi, who is with Perfect Dashboard and is also the chair of our Technical Outreach Working Group. We are pleased to be able to find out more about you, what you’re doing with i2Coalition in the industry, and in general. Let’s start off by talking about you and your background.
Robert: Sure. My background for almost twenty years now is within the content management system space, working with open source tools, proprietary tools and a number of companies. I am formerly the President of Joomla, the second largest open source content management system in the world. Now I am President Emeritus and working on their capital team. That is the primary focus in the open source world outside of the i2Coalition.
Christian: That’s no small feat. How did you get connected with Joomla?
Robert: I started working with Joomla before it was officially born in 2005. It had been an open source project called Mambo. The firm that I had at that time was Arc Technology Group. We were looking to transition from a proprietary CMS to an open source one. We found Mambo, which was a robust stack of content management solutions. The development team for Mambo left to create a more flexible version that became Joomla. We had been using that product at the time which we found to be indispensable. We decided to follow the project and continue utilizing it internally. We also worked with the development team, local user groups, and advocated for Joomla as a viable enterprise open source content management solution.
Christian: I have used Joomla many times. I appreciate the work that you do there first hand. You mentioned that you’re part of the capital team. Does that mean making sure that the project is funded?
Robert: That is exactly it. We focus on sponsorships and business opportunities that first and foremost, improve the experience of the Joomla community. Whether we’re working with hosting partners or domain name service providers, the goal is a real value-add to our community. These partnerships also keep the lights on for the project and support our own infrastructure. We then put some funds into marketing, social media, and getting the most out of Joomla.
Christian: Absolutely. It’s an open source project so nobody pays directly for Joomla. Any of the funders that you bring in for the project, are organizations that are otherwise using Joomla for their commercial enterprises?
Robert: That’s exactly it. This is a project that feeds itself. We eat our own dog food. Over the last 15 years, we’ve been able to build an insanely robust community. We have developers, integrators, designers, and third-party providers.
Christian: Does Joomla have events to pull together that community? Anything that you should put on our radar?
Robert: We just had our developer conference in May, J and Beyond. That was extremely successful. We also have 120 Joomla days, which are locally grown and managed user meetups. Those meetups discuss where Joomla is today, what are the opportunities, and what is coming down the pipe.
Christian: Joomla also has a newsletter right?
Robert: Yes, we’ve got a great newsletter. We have an online magazine at magazine.joomla.org as well. There is a lot of news as Joomla 4 is coming out at the end of the year with lots of new features. It’s been a busy year for the project. Of course, GDPR has also affected everyone and development.
Christian Thank you for the update on that. The way in which we connected and started working together was actually around Perfect Dashboard. Can you take a moment to tell us about Perfect Dashboard and your role there?
Robert: Absolutely, my pleasure. I am the Executive Vice President for Perfect Dashboard. We are a firm that focuses on update and security services for Joomla and WordPress websites. We have been quite successful over the last two plus-years in providing great services to a growing customer base. We were also just accepted into the SkyDeck accelerator program at the University of Berkeley.
Christian: Your associate Bartek Jaźwiński, the COO and Co-Founder of Perfect Dashboard, is one of the volunteers in our Diversity & Inclusion Initiative or DII. He made the decision for Perfect Dashboard to join the i2Coalition. When you discussed it what were the main reasons you decided to join?
Robert: Much of it is our mutual goal for a more open and simultaneously secure Internet. Our goals, both personally and professionally, revolve around being able to have websites and platforms that function well and are not getting hacked or corrupted. Additionally, for end users of the Internet, which everyone is these days, it’s incredibly important to feel safe and protected. Then from a professional perspective, it’s important for us to let the world know that Perfect Dashboard secures and facilitates a safer Internet.
Christian: Well, I appreciate that and I hope that those who have joined as members will also join me in thanking Perfect Dashboard for joining and jumping right into doing the work. Bartek has joined the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative and you as chair of the Technical Outreach Working Group. The TOWG is a group that we’ve had for a couple of years now, but after losing our chair a few months ago the working group laid dormant while new leadership was decided upon. When you joined, we discussed the possibility of you taking the position of chair. What excited you about that opportunity?
Robert: I was interested in being able to do security work in a private space. We’re not approaching it from its legal aspects, but coming together as a group and saying “these are our recommended best practices.” This is what we can do as an industry to make sure the Internet is safer and more robust for billions of people who are going online every day. One of our initial projects is a CMS standards suite. These are best practice standards for how security, updating, maintenance, and management is acted upon.
Christian: That’s an exciting project. Should people that are interested in getting involved in that particular project reach out to you?
Robert: Absolutely. We’re working with the largest content management platforms and hosting providers in the working group and globally. That’s WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal on the CMS side. Verisign and GoDaddy are heavily involved. There are critical components of the Internet infrastructure involved. The more people and groups that can contribute the better.
Christian: One of the other early things that we did was a webinar about the KSK Key Rollover. There was good information sharing there. Is that one of the things you’re trying to do with the TOWG? Making sure that the people who need to know about important changes to the Internet receive that information?
Robert: That’s an absolute yes. For example, we had people at ICANN GDD Industry Summit in Vancouver. We’re making sure that we are on top of what’s going on with ICANN that affect hosting and domain name providers in a technical and safety sense. We’re working with the i2Coalition ICANN Committee to make sure information is exchanged to the ongoing benefit of i2Coalition members and the Internet.
Christian: One of the things that I’ve always been very proud of is our close working relationship with a group M3AAWG (Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group), which many people may not know about. I’m not sure how much you knew when you took over as Technical Outreach chair, but most of our efforts in the past have been in collaborative efforts with them. Where do you see the future of that partnership under your leadership?
Robert: With M3AAWG we receive a lot of details and information about what’s happening with abuse issues in real time. We get a view into the issues, specifically malware, which help us prevent their proliferation. Whether that abuse and malware are via hacks, via email, or other exploits, I’m looking forward to working with M3AAWG as a partner in the future.
Christian: Great. I don’t want to take up a lot more of your time. I would like to give you an opportunity to make a pitch for people to join the group. Why should they join the TOWG at the i2Coalition? I would love to hear your pitch.
Robert: Absolutely. The TOWG focuses on day to day technical issues. We’re in the trenches. We’re working with CTOs and CEOs globally to make the Internet a more secure, safer, better place, without necessarily involving government in the process. Our goal is to independently come up with solutions for these challenges. It’s a great opportunity to interact with key decision makers of the Internet.
Christian: That is very exciting and very important work. I thank you for doing it. I think that we have effectively accomplished the introduction that we wanted to make today.
Robert: Thank you for Christian. It’s all about being proactive and not reactive. Our security and practices are always trying to be one-upped and undermined. It’s all about finding solutions that make us agiler in dealing with these changes and others that we’re not expecting.
Christian: I know under your leadership that we’re in good hands and working towards those goals. Thank you for your time today.
Robert: Thank you, Christian. Cheers.