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 to build a community? Watch OpenStack’s Anne Gentle

wow girlI strongly believe that learning to operate in a collaborative community is a learned skill.  It’s also #1 career talent that I look for when I screen resumes (Linux experience is #2 and my team is hiring).

That’s why I’m simply humbled when I watch some of the OpenStack leaders work to support our community.  It’s worth supporting these efforts in every way possible.

In this specific case, OpenStack (under Anne Gentle‘s leadership) is actively recruiting both mentors and interns for the Outreach Program for Women. Rackspace is sponsoring one intern, and I’m still seeking funding for additional interns. Support levels start at $5750 for one intern.

Here her comments about the program:

OpenStack provides open source software for building public and private clouds. We are constantly moving and growing and very excited to invite newcomers to our community. For a third round, OpenStack is participating in GNOME Outreach Program for Women. As you may know, representation of women among free and open source participants has been cited at 3% [ref] as contrasted with the percentages of computing degrees earned by women (all at over 10% higher) in the US. Eek! At the October 2012 OpenStack Summit, Anne Gentle led an unconference session about including more women in OpenStack and identified one of the goals as bringing more newcomers to OpenStack. The GNOME Outreach program is an excellent way for OpenStack to meet that inclusion goal, and we specifically want to reach out to women who are interested in open source. The program starts in December 2013, going until March 2014. Also, we have been able to support our interns meeting their mentors at the OpenStack Summit, which would be in April 2014. You can find out all the details about how to apply to an OpenStack spot by going to OpenStack For Women.

Taking OpenStack Core discussions to community

core flowTHIS POST IS #9 IN A SERIES ABOUT “WHAT IS CORE.”

We’ve been building up to a broad discussion about the OpenStack Core and I’d like to invite everyone in the OpenStack community to participate (review latest).

Alan Clark (Board Chairman) officially kicked off this open discussion with his post on the OpenStack blog last week.  And we’re trying to have face-to-face events for dialog like the Core meetup tonight in San Francisco.  Look for more to come!

Of course, this will also be a topic at the summit (Alan and I submitted two sessions about this).  The Board needs to move this forward in the November meeting, so NOW is the time to review and give us input.

What makes OpenStack meaningful to the market?

THIS POST IS #2 IN A SERIES ABOUT “WHAT IS CORE.”

What gives a project a strong core? 

A strong project has utility, community, and longevity.

TelescopeUtility, community and longevity are the fundamental objectives of any project or product.  It must do something that people find useful (utility).  It’s not enough for one person to like the project, there must be a market (community).  And that useful and popular work must be sustainable over multiple “generations” (longevity).

These goals are basic.  The challenge is finding the right rules to keep OpenStack in the sustainable project zone.  Unfortunately, as an open source project, the OpenStack Foundation ultimately has very little real power (like hiring flocks of developers) to enforce use or maintenance of the code base.

The Foundation’s tools are velocity, culture, and brand.  Understanding “what is core” hones these tools to ensure they are effective.

Velocity – the rate of progress and quality of the code base.  A project at sufficient velocity is not worth forking or duplicating.  The fact that >1000 developers companies are contributing and 100s of companies are deploying OpenStack makes it profitable to remain in our community.   Make no mistake: being part of a community takes effort so there must be a return on that investment.  The foundation must ensure that commercial entities find an ROI from their participation.

Culture – open source culture strongly encourages sharing and collaboration.  I have seen that culture as a more potent force than the legalese and licenses.  While a strong culture reinforces itself, a toxic culture will rot a project like ice cream in the summerCulture maintenance is a chief foundation objective and includes fostering new users, documentation, orderly interactions and co-opetitive collaboration.

Brand – when all else fails, OpenStack can use legal means to define our brand.  This is the weakest of all the tools because the strength of the defense is only as good as the brand.  If we allow the OpenStack brand (sometimes we say it’s mark) to become weak or diluted then people have little reason to support velocity or culture.

An important insight when looking at these three control levers is that they are very different between individuals and corporations.  While individuals may highly motivated by culture they are not as motivated by brand; conversely, corporations are highly motivated by brand and compliance and minimally by culture.

As the OpenStack Foundation Board takes up the “what is core” question, we must be cognizant of the duality between individual and corporate interests.  OpenStack must be both meaningful culturally to individuals and strong brand-wise to corporations.   Both are needed to sustain OpenStack’s velocity.

READ POST IS #2: SPIDER CHART

OpenStack leaders learning by humility, doing and being good partners

With the next OpenStack Board meeting on Thursday (5/30/13 agenda) and Mark McLoughlin’s notes crossing my desk, I was reminded of still open discussion topics around OpenStack leadership.  Reminder: except for executive sessions, OpenStack Board Meetings are open (check agenda for details).

2013-03-11_20-01-50_458

Many of the people and companies involved in OpenStack are new to open source projects. Before OpenStack, I had no direct experience building a community like we’ve built together with OpenStack or I’ve been leading with Crowbar. There is no Collaborative Open Source Communities for Dummies book (I looked).

I am not holding myself, OpenStack or Crowbar up as shining examples of open source perfection. Just the opposite, we’ve had to learn the hard way about what works and what fails. I attribute our successes to humility to accept feedback and willingness to ask for help.

But being successful in the small (like during OpenStack Cactus) is different than where we are heading.  In the small, everyone was an open source enthusiast and eager collaborator.  In the large, we should be asking the question “how will we teach people to join and build an open source community?”

The answer is that collaboration must be modeled by the OpenStack leadership.

At the Summit, I was talking with fellow board director Sean Roberts (Yahoo!) and I think he made this point very simply:

“Being in open source is a partnership. If you don’t bring something to the partnership then you’re a user not a partner. We love users but we need to acknowledge the difference.” (Sean Roberts, OpenStack Director)

OpenStack will succeed by building a large base of users; consequently, we need our leaders to be partners in the community.

We need better Gold Member criteria to help building OpenStack culture

bunny slippersDuring last OpenStack board meeting, we started a dialog that will be continued over the rest of the year.  It concerns how/if we should apply our criteria to measure the contributions of companies that are applying to become Gold members.

I believe that we should see many contribution “footprints” for companies in Foundation leadership positions.  These footprints do not have to be code in github: there are many visible ways to contribute to OpenStack including internal installs, delivered product, community meetups, open source support around code, service to the community through speaking and sponsoring and, of course, code too.

At this point in the OpenStack evolution, there is so much going on that it is easy to leave footprints because there are so many ways to engage.  Footprints are tangible evidence of community leadership and the currency of collaboration.  OpenStack thrives because we are committed to working together, being transparent in our actions and providing service to the project beyond our own needs.

I believe OpenStack Foundation’s new gold members will are great additions to our growing community; however, we need to be increasingly deliberate in accepting new Gold members to make sure that they have a history of demonstrating a culture of open source leadership and contribution.  

These applications deserve careful consideration for several reasons:

  1. there are a limited number of gold level positions (16 of the 24 are now occupied)
  2. there is no practical way to remove a gold member (but only 8 are elected to the board)
  3. there is a perception (by the applicants) that they gain additional credibility through gold membership
  4. gold and platinum members are the leaders of our community so everyone will models their behavior

It is important to remember that there is no limit or barrier (beyond $) to joining at the corporate sponsors level. So, being a gold member means that companies are seeking a broader leadership role in the project.

Over the next months, Simon Anderson (committee chair, Dreamhost) will be leading me and several other board members in an effort to refine of our Gold member review criteria.  I’ll post own list shortly and I’m interested in hearing from you about what type of “footprints” we should be considered in this process.

OpenStack Board Voting Starts! Three thoughts about the board and election

1/18 Note: I was re-elected! Thanks everyone for your support.

OpenStack Foundation members, I have three requests for you:

  1. vote (ballots went out by email already and expire on Friday)
  2. vote for me (details below)
  3. pick the board you want, not just the candidates.

And, of course, vote according to our code of conduct: “Members should not attempt to manipulate election results. Open debate is welcome, but vote trading, ballot stuffing and other forms of abuse are not acceptable.”

To vote, you must have been a member for 6 months. Going Mad Panda? Join right now so you can vote next time!

Even if you’re not a voter, you may find my comments useful in understanding OpenStack. Remember, these positions are my own: they do not reflect those of my employer (Dell).

Vote because it’s the strongest voice the community has about OpenStack governance

I’d strongly encourage you to commit code, come to the summit and participate in the lists and chats; however, voting is more. It shows measurable impact. It shows the vitality of the community.

OpenStack is exciting to me because it’s community driven.

I have been a strong and early leader in the community:

Vote for me because of my OpenStack Operations focus

My team at Dell has been laser focused on making OpenStack operable for over 2 years. My team acts like a lean start-up inside of Dell to get products out to market early.

We’ve worked with early operators and ground-breaking ecosystem partners (plus). We’ve helped many people get OpenStack running for real workloads. Consequently, I am highly accessible and accountable to a large number of users, operators and ecosystem vendors. Few other people in the OpenStack community have my breadth of exposure to real OpenStack deployments. My team and I have been dedicated, active participants in OpenStack long before Dell’s grand OpenStack strategy coalesced.

More importantly, I am committed to open source and open operations. The Apache 2 open source Crowbar project established the baseline (and served as the foundation) for other OpenStack deployment efforts. We don’t just talk about open source, we do open source: our team works in the open (my git account).

Vote for a board because diversity of views is important

OpenStack voting allows you to throw up to 8 votes to a single candidate. While you can put all your eggs into a single basket, I recommend considering a broader slate in voting.

We have an impressive and dedicated list of candidates who will do work for the community. I ask that you consider the board as a team. If you want operators, users, diversity, change, less corporate influence or any flavor of the above then think not just about the individual.

Why should I be part of your slate? I am not a blind cheerleader. I have voiced and driven community-focused positions about the board (dev cycle, grizzly >;; folsom, consensus).

One of my core activities has been to work on addressing community concerns about affinity voting. Gold and Platinum members have little incentive to address this issue. While I’d like to see faster action, it requires changing the by-laws. Any by-law changes need to be made carefully and they also require a vote of the electorate. If you want positive change, you need board members, like me, who are persistent and knowledgeable in board dynamics.

What have I done on the Board? Quite a bit…

It would be easy to get lost in a board of 24 members, but I have not. Armed with my previous board experience, I have been a vocal advocate for the community in board meetings without creating disruption or pulling us off topic.

Why re-elect me? For community & continuity

I am a strong and active board member and I work hard to represent all OpenStack constituents: developers, operators, users and ecosystem vendors.

Working on a board is a long-term exercise. Positions and actions I’ve taken today may take months to come to fruition. I would like the opportunity continue that work and see it through.

Join in Blog Action Day on 10/15

You’ll have to wait for the reveal on 10/15 but I wanted to throw out the link for blog action day and encourage fellow bloggers to participate in the event.

I participated in this event while I blogging about electric cars (I converted 96 RAV4 to EV) and energy issues.  It’s an interesting perspective to have a large focus on a single topic.  The breadth of discussion is impressive.

This year, I’m going to be topical to my latest interests and offering insights from the floor of the OpenStack summit.

OSCBM Seeking Community Input for Long Board Meetings and Candlelight Coding Sessions

Happy OpenStack Foundation Launch Day! I’m a little breathless at OpenStack’s sponsored sprint to foundationhood but very proud to be part of the process (you can be too!).   Just looking at the numbers it’s clear that we’re building something important.

While it’s important that OpenStack is innovative, stable and useful cloud infrastructure, it’s equally important the project in collaborative developed.

Collaborative development makes it safe for so many diverse commercial interests to participate.  The Foundation, with a gold and platinum war chest,  is a reflection of the need for the project to remain both openly collaborative and commercially successful for our community.  We must ensure a level technology playing field while we work to ensure members of the community can be commercially successful while contributing.  This balance is one of our core challenges.

As an OpenStack Community Board Member (OSCBM), I want to hear what you think the OpenStack Foundation should be doing for OpenStack!

It is vital that I get input from the OpenStack community!  Unlike 2/3 of the Board, my seat is decided by the community and (re)elected by the community on an annual basis; consequently, it is my responsibility to voice Stackers’ interest, not my employer’s (Dell).

Frankly, the project is still hugely dominated by developers with users/operators only just gaining influence. The Foundation’s primary purpose is to help safe guard its independence. As a board member, my job today is to oversee building  up the critical infrastructure (like having a staff) to perform that mission.

Of course, you also need to know my priorities.

  1. Consensus governance helps ensure minority views get heard while we still act as a unified body.  Consensus includes formalized agendas, rules (aka Robert’s rules) , clarifying motions and simple actions to make it easier for the community to follow.
  2. More community integration in the form of work done in subcomittees that can bring in external voices and integration with technical and user committees.
  3. Make activities more consistent, visible and accessible.  While our actions are open, our practices (and audio bridges)  make it difficult for the community to follow along.  That includes faster turn around on minutes so that board actions are not subject to twitter extrapolation.

The board is still very young and I’m impressed with what we’ve accomplished so far.