Anyone else find picking OpenStack summit sessions overwhelming?!

Choices!The scope and diversity of sessions for the upcoming OpenStack conference in Atlanta are simply overwhelming.   As a board member, that’s a positive sign of our success as a community; however, it’s also a challenge as we attempt to pick topics.  That’s why we turn to you, the OpenStack community, to help sift and select the content.

Even if you are not attending, we need your help in selection!  Content from the summits is archived and has a much larger outside of the two conference days.  You’re voice matters for the community.

While it’s a simple matter to ask you to vote for my DefCore presentation and some excellent ones from my peers at Dell, I’d also like share some of my thoughts about general trends I saw illustrated by the offerings:

  • Swift has a strong following as a solution outside of other products
  • Ceph seems to emerging as a critical component with Cinder
  • Neutron has breath but not depth in practice
  • HA and Upgrades remain challenges
  • We are starting to see specializations emerge (like NFV)
  • OpenStack case studies!  There are many – some of uncertain utility as references
  • Some community members and companies are super prolific in submitting sessions.  Perhaps these sessions are all great but on first pass it seems out of balance.
  • Vendor pitch or conference session?  You often get both in the same session.  We’re still not certain how to balance this.

The number and diversity of sessions is staggering – we need your help on voting.

We also need you to be part of the dialog about the conference and summits to make sure they are meeting the community needs.  My review of the sessions indicates that we are trying to serve many different audiences in a very limited time window.  I’m interested in hearing yours!  Review some sessions and let me know.

OpenStack Board Elections: What I’ll do in 2014: DefCore, Ops, & Community

Rob HirschfeldOpenStack Community,

The time has come for you to choose who will fill the eight community seats on the Board (ballot links went out Sunday evening CST).  I’ve had the privilege to serve you in that capacity for 16 months and would like to continue.  I have leadership role in Core Definition and want to continue that work.

Here are some of the reasons that I am a strong board member:

  • Proven & Active Leadership on Board - I have been very active and vocal representing the community on the Board.  In addition to my committed leadership in Core Definition, I have played important roles shaping the Gold Member grooming process and trying to adjust our election process.  I am an outspoken yet pragmatic voice for the community in board meetings.
  • Technical Leader but not on the TC – The Board needs members who are technical yet detached from the individual projects enough to represent outside and contrasting views.
  • Strong User Voice – As the senior OpenStack technologist at Dell, I have broad reach in Dell and RedHat partnership with exposure to a truly broad and deep part of the community.  This makes me highly accessible to a lot of people both in and entering the community.
  • Operations Leadership – Dell was an early leader in OpenStack Operations (via OpenCrowbar) and continues to advocate strongly for key readiness activities like upgrade and high availability.  In addition, I’ve led the effort to converge advanced cookbooks from the OpenCrowbar project into the OpenStack StackForge upstreams.  This is not a trivial effort but the right investment to make for our community.
  • And there’s more… you can read about my previous Board history in my 2012 and 2013 “why vote for me” posts or my general OpenStack comments.

And now a plea to vote for other candidates too!

I had hoped that we could change the election process to limit blind corporate affinity voting; however, the board was not able to make this change without a more complex set of bylaws changes.  Based on the diversity and size of OpenStack community, I hope that this issue may no longer be a concern.  Even so, I strongly believe that the best outcome for the OpenStack Board is to have voters look beyond corporate affiliation and consider a range of factors including business vs. technical balance, open source experience, community exposure, and ability to dedicate time to OpenStack.

How are we picking the OpenStack DefCore “must pass” tests?

Fancy ElephantThis post comes with a WARNING LABEL… THE FOLLOWING SELECTION CRITERIA ARE PRELIMINARY TO GET FEEDBACK AND HELP VALIDATE THE PROCESS.
As part of the DefCore work, we have the challenge of taking all the Tempest tests and figuring out which ones are the “must-pass” tests that will define core (our note pages).  We want to have a very transparent and objective process for picking the tests so we need to have well defined criteria and a selection process.
Figuring out the process will be iterative.  The list below represents a working set of selection criteria that are applied to the tests.  The DefCore committee will determine relative weights for the criteria after the tests have been scored because it was clear in discussion that not all of these criteria should have equal weight.
Once a test passes the minimum criteria score and becomes “must-pass” the criteria score does not matter – the criteria are only used for selecting tests. As per the Core principles, passing all “must-pass” test will be required to be considered core.
So what are these 13 preliminary criteria (source)?
1. Test is required stable for >2 releases (because things leaving Core are bad)
  • the least number/amount of must pass tests as possible (due to above)
  • but noting that the number will increase over time
  • least amount of change from current requirements as possible (nova, swift 2 versions)
  • (Acknowledge that deprecation is punted for now, but can be executed by TC)
2. Where the code being tested has an designed area of alternate implementation (extension framework) as per the Core Principles, there should be parity in capability tested across extension implementations
  • Test is not configuration specific (test cannot meet criteria if it requires a specific configuration)
  • Test does not require an non-open extension to pass (only the OpenStack code)
3. Capability being tested is Service Discoverable (can be found in Keystone and via service introspection) – MONTY TO FIX WORDING around REST/DOCS, etc.
  • Nearly core or “compatible” clouds need to be introspected to see what’s missing
  • Not clear at this point if it’s project or capability level enforced.  Perhaps for Elephant it’s project but it should move to capability for later
4A, 4B & 4C. Candidates are widely used capabilities
  • 4A favor capabilities that are supported by multiple public cloud providers and private cloud products
    • Allow the committee to use expert judgement to promote capabilities that need to resolve the “chicken-and-egg”
    • Goals are both diversity and quantity of users
  • 4B. Should be included if supported by common tools (Ecosystem products includes)
  • 4C. Should be included if part of common libraries (Fog, Apache jclouds, etc)
5. Test capabilities that are required by other must-pass tests and/or depended on by many other capabilities
6. Should reflect future technical direction (from the project technical teams and the TC)
  • Deprecated capabilities would be excluded (or phased out)
  • This could potentially become a “stick” if used incorrectly because we could force capabilities
7. Should be well documented, particularly the expected behavior.
  • includes the technical references for others in the project as well as documentation for the users and or developers accessing the feature or functionality
8. A test that is a must-pass test should stay a must-pass test (makes must-pass tests sticky release per release)
9. A test for a Capability with must-pass tests is more likely to be considered must-pass
10 Capabilities is unique and cannot be build out of other must-pass capabiliies
  • Candidates favor capabilities that users cannot implement if given the presence of other capabilities
  • consider the pain to users if a cloud doesn’t have the capability – not so much pain if they can run it themselves
  • “Unique capabilities that cannot be build out of other must-pass capabilities should not be considered as strongly”
11. Tests do not require administrative right to execute
We expect these criteria to change based on implementation experience and community input; however, we felt that further discussion without implementation was getting diminishing returns.  It’s import to remember that all of the criteria are not equal, they will have relative weights to help drive tune the results.

OpenStack Core Definition (DefCore) Progress in 6 key areas

DefCore Elephant Cycle

I’m excited to report about the OpenStack Board progress on defining OpenStack core.  At the Hong Kong summit, Joshua McKenty and I were asked to chair a new standing committee, now known as DefCore, to define “OpenStack Core” based on the core principles that we determined over the last 6 months (aka “the spider”).

Joshua and I took on the challenge with gusto and I’m proud to say that we’ve already made significant progress against an aggressive timeline to have the pilot must-pass tests for Havana defined before the Juno Summit in April 2014.  It’s important to remember that we’re moving from a project based definition of core to test-driven capabilities because this best addresses our interoperability objectives.

In the 8 weeks since the summit, we’ve had six very productive meetings (etherpads for Prep, DefCore.1, DefCore.2, Criteria 1 and 2) with detailed notes and recorded content. Here’s my summary of our results so far:

  1. An Aggressive Timeline for having pilot Havana must-pass tests approved by the Juno summit in May 2014.  That drives the schedule backward toward a preliminary list in March.  Once we have a pilot list for Havana, we expect to have Ice House done +90 days and Juno done at the Paris summit.

  2. Test Selection Criteria a preliminary set of 14 criteria (needs a stand alone post) that will be used to quantitatively score the current 700+ tests.  We also agreed to use a max 100 point weighting system for the criteria.  The weights and score requirement iteratively once we have done a first scoring pass.  Our objective is to make must-pass test selection as objective and transparent as possible (post with details).

  3. Distinction between Capability & Test is important because we recognize that individual tests may validate multiple capabilities and individual capabilities may have multiple tests.  Our hope is to present the results in terms of capabilities not individual tests.

  4. Holding Off on Bylaws Changes needed to clarify how OpenStack manage core definition.  It was widely expected that the DefCore committee would have to make changes to the OpenStack bylaws; however, we believe we can proceed without rushing changes.  We have an active subcommittee preparing changes in advance of the next DefCore cycle.

  5. Program vs. Project Definition efforts are needed to help take pressure off requests to have “projects promoted to core status” and how the OpenStack trademark is used for projects.  We are trying to clarify OpenStack Programs (e.g.: OpenStack™ Compute) carry to the trademark while OpenStack Projects (e.g.: Nova and Glace) are members of those programs and do not carry the OpenStack trademark directly.  Consequently, we’d expect people to say “OpenStack Compute Project Nova” instead of “OpenStack Nova.”  This approach addresses several issues that impact DefCore Board activities around trademark, core and brand.

  6. RefStack Development and Use Cases provide the framework for community reporting of test results.  We consider this infrastructure critical to getting community input about must-pass tests and also sharing interoperability information.  This effort is just beginning and needs help from the community.

For all this progress, we are only starting!  We’ve cleared the blocks preventing implementation and that will expose a new set issues to discuss.  Look for us to start applying the criteria to tests in the next months.  That will quickly expose the strengths and weaknesses of our criteria set.  We’ve also got to make progress on Program vs. Project and start RefStack coding.

We want community participation!  Please let us know what you think.

Mark Stouse’s “Making Predictions for 14″ series

I was invited to be part of Mark Stouse’s 2014 big data & cloud predictions series.  His questions had me thinking deeply about the past year and I’m happy to repost them here with links to the other predictors too including (Robert ScobleShel Israel, and David H. Deans).

1.  Describe in one sentence what you do and why you’re good at it.

I specialize in architecture for infrastructure software for scale data center operations (aka “cloud”) and I have 14 years of battle scars that inform my designs.

 2.  Cloud Computing, Big Data or Consumerization: Which trend do you feel is having the most impact on IT today and why?

Cloud, Data & Consumerization are all connected, so there’s no one clear “most impactful” winner except that all three are forcing IT to rethink how we handle operations.   The pace of change for these categories (many of which are open source driven) is so fast that traditional IT governance cannot keep up.  I’m specifically talking about the DevOps and Lean Software Delivery paradigms.  These approaches do not mean that we’re trading speed for quality; in fact, I’ve seen that we’re adopting techniques that deliver both higher quality and speed.

 3.  What do you think is the biggest misconception about Cloud computing/Big Data/Consumerization?

That someone can purchase them as a SKU.  These are really architectural concepts that impact how we solve problems instead of specific products.  My experience is that customers overlook their need to understand how to change their business to take advantage of these technologies.  It’s the same classic challenge for ROI from most new technologies – they don’t exist apart from the business matching changes to the business to leverage them.

 4.  Which (Cloud Computing/Big Data/Consumerization) trend has surprised you most in the last five years?

Open source has surprised me because we’ve seen it transform from a cost concern into a supply chain concern.  When I started doing open source work for Dell, customers were very interested in innovation and controlling license costs.  This has really changed over the last few years.  Today, customers are more concerned with community participation and transparency of their product code base.  This surprised me until I realized that they are really seeking to ensure that they had maximum control and visibility into their “IT Supply Chain.”   It may seem like a paradox, but open source software is uniquely positioned to help companies maintain more control of their critical IT because they are not tightly coupled to a single vendor.

 5.  How has Cloud Computing/Big Data/Consumerization had the biggest impact in YOUR life to date?

Beyond it being my career, I believe these technologies have created a new degree of freedom for me.  I’m answering these questions from the SFO airport where I’m carrying all of the tools I need to do my job in a space small enough to fit under the seat in front of me plus a free Wifi connection.  I believe we are only just learning how access to information and portable computing will change our experience.  This learning process will be both liberating and painful as we work out the right balances between access, identity and privacy.

 6.  On a lighter note – If Cloud/Big Data/Consumerization could be personified by a superhero, which superhero would it be and why?

The Hulk.   Looks like a friendly geek but it’s going to crush you if you’re not careful.

 7.  What aspect of (Cloud Computing/Big Data/ Consumerization) are you most excited about in the future, and what excites you about it?

The Internet of Things (even if I hate the term) is very exciting because we’re moving into a place where we have real ways to connect our virtual and physical lives.  That translates into cool technologies like self-driving cars and smart power utilities.  I think it will also motivate a revolution in how people interact with computers and each other.  It’s going to open up a whole new dimension on our personal interaction with our surroundings.   I’m specifically thinking about a book “Rainbows End” by Vernor Vinge that paints this future in vivid detail.

Competition should be core to OpenStack Technical Meritocracy

In my work at Dell, Technical Meritocracy means that we recognize and promote demonstrated talent into leadership roles. As a leader, one has to make technical judgments (OK, informed opinions) that focus limited resources in the (hopefully) right places. Being promoted does not automatically make someone right all the time.

I believe that good leaders recognize the value of a diverse set of opinions and the learning value of lean deliverables.

OpenStack is an amazingly diverse and evolving community. Leading in OpenStack requires a level of humility that forces me to reconsider my organization hierarchical thinking around “technical meritocracy.” Instead of a hierarchy where leadership chooses right and wrong, rising in the community meritocracy is about encouraging technical learning and user participation.

OpenStack is a melting pot of many interests and companies. Some of them naturally aligned (customers+vendors) and others are otherwise competitive (vendors). The vast majority of contribution to OpenStack is sponsored – companies pay people to participate and fund the foundation that organizes events. That does not diminish our enthusiasm for the community or open values, but it adds an additional dimension

If we are really seeking a Technical Meritocracy, we must create a place where ideas, teams, projects and companies can pursue different approaches within OpenStack. This is essential to our long term success because it provides a clear way for people to experiment within the project. Pushing away alternate approaches is likely to lead to forking. Specifically, I believe that the mostly likely competitor to any current OpenStack project will be that project’s .next version!

Calls for a “benevolent dictator” imply that our meritocracy has a single person with perspective on right and wrong. Not only is OpenStack simply too complex, I see our central design tenant as enabling multiple approaches to work it out in the community. This is especially important because many aspects of OpenStack are not one-size-fits all. The target diversity of our community requires that we enable multiple approaches so we can expand our user base.

The risk of anointing a single person, approach or project as “the OpenStack way” may appear to streamline the project, but it really stifles innovation. We have a healthy ecosystem of vendors who gladly express opinions about the right way to implement OpenStack. They help us test OpenStack technical merit by finding out which opinions appeal to users. It is essential to our success to enable a vibrant diversity because I don’t think there’s a single right answer or approach.

In every case, those vendor opinions are based on focused markets and customer needs; consequently, our job in the community is to respect and incorporate these divergent needs and find consensus.

Spinning up OpenStack “DefCore” Committee by spotting elephants

ElephantsThis week, Joshua McKenty, me and a handful of interested individuals (board member Eileen Evans included) met to start organizing the DefCore* Committee.  This standing committee was established by an OpenStack Foundation resolution just before the Hong Kong Summit.  Joshua and I were nominated as co-chairs (and about half the board volunteered to be members).    This action was an immediate result of the unanimous passage of the 10 Principles that I was driving in the DefCore “Spider” cycle.

We heard overwhelmingly at the Hong Kong summit that defining core should be a major focus for the Board.

The good news is that we’re doing exactly that in CoreDef.  Our challenge is to go quickly but not get ahead of community consensus.  So far, that means eating the proverbial elephant in small bites and intentionally deferring topics where we cannot find consensus.

This meeting was primarily about Joshua and I figuring out how to drive DefCore quickly (go fast!) without exceeding the communities ability to review and discuss (build consensus!).  While we had future-post-worthy conceptual discussions, we had a substantial agenda of get-it-done in front of us too.

Here’s a summary of key outcomes from the meeting:

1)      We’ve established a tentative schedule for our first two meetings (12/3 and 12/17).

  1. We’ve started building agendas for these two meetings.
  2. We’ve also established rules for governance that include members to do homework!

2)      We’ve agreed it’s important to present a bylaws change to the committee for consideration by the board.

  1. This change is to address confusion around how core is defined and possibly move towards the bylaws defining a core process not a list of core projects.
  2. This is on an accelerated track because we’d like to include it with the Community Board Member elections.

3)      We’ve broken DefCore into clear “cycles” so we can be clearer about concrete objectives and what items are out of scope for a cycle.  We’re using names to designate cycles for clarity.

  1. The first cycle, “Spider,” was about finding the connections between core issues and defining a process to resolve the tension in those connections.
  2. This cycle, “Elephant,” is about breaking the Core definition into
  3. The next cycle(s) will be named when we get there.  For now, they are all “Future”
  4. We agreed there is a lot of benefit from being clear to community about items that we “kick down the road” for future cycles.  And, yes, we will proactively cut off discussion of these items out of respect for time.

4)      We reviewed the timeline proposed at the end of Spider and added it to the agenda.

  1. The timeline assumes a staged introduction starting with Havana and accelerating for each release.
  2. We are working the timeline backwards to ensure time for Board, TC and community input.

5)      We agreed that consensus is going to be a focus for keeping things moving

  1. This will likely drive to a smaller core definition
  2. We will actively defer issues that cannot reach consensus in the Elephant cycle.

6)      We identified some concepts that may help guide the process in this cycle

  1. We likely need to create categories beyond “core” to help bucket tests
  2. Committee discussion is needed but debate will be time limited

7)      We identified the need to start on test criteria immediately

  1. Board member John Zannos (in absentia) offered to help lead this effort
  2. In defining test criteria, we are likely to have lively discussions about “OpenStack’s values”

8)      We identified some out of scope topics that are important but too big to solve.

  1. We are calling these “elephants” (or the elephant in the room).
  2. The list of elephants needs to be agreed by DefCore and clearly communicated
  3. We expect that the Elephant cycle will make discussing these topics more fruitful

9)      We talked about RefStack code features

  1. Allowing users to upload/post test results from their clouds to enable white box test reporting
  2. Allowing users who have uploaded results to +/- vote on tests they think are important
  3. We established a requirement that posting results requires an OpenStack ID
  4. We established a requirement that only a single Corporate designate (provided by the Foundation) can make a result official for their company.
  5. Collecting opt-in data with test results using tags for things like alternate implementations use, host operating system(s), deployment method, size of cloud, and hypervisor.
  6. We discussed (but did not resolve) that it could be possible to have people run RefStack against public cloud end points and post their results
  7. We agreed that RefStack needs to be able to run locally or as a hosted site.

10)   We identified a lot of missing communication channels

  1. We created a DefCore wiki page to be a home for information.
  2. Joshua and I (and others?) will work with the Foundation staff to create “what is core” video to help the community understand the Principles and objectives for the Elephant cycle.
  3. We are in the process of setting up mail lists, IRC, blog tags, etc.

Yikes!  That’s a lot of progress priming the pump for our first DefCore meeting!

* We picked “DefCore” for the core definition committee name.  One overriding reason for the name is that it has very clean search results.  Since the word “core” is so widely used, we wanted to make sure that commentary on this topic is easy to track against the noisy term core.  We also liked 1) the reference to DefCon and 2) that the Urban Dictionary defines it as going deaf from standing too close to the speakers.