Why Governance Matters in Open Source: Discussing the OpenStack Foundation

This post is part of my notes from the 2/1 Boston OpenStack meetup.

OpenStack Foundation

Your’s truly (Rob Hirschfeld) gave the presentation about the OpenStack Foundation.  To readers of this blog, it’s obvious that I’m a believer in the OpenStack mission; however, it’s not obvious how creating a foundation helps with that mission and why OpenStack needs its own. As one person at the meetup put it, “Why not? Every major project needs a foundation!”

Governance does not sound sexy compared to writing code and deploying clouds, but it’s very important to the success of the project.

Here are my notes without the poetic elocution I exuded during the meetup…

The basics:

  • What: Creating a neutral body to govern OpenStack. Rackspace has been leading OpenStack. This means that they own the copyrights, name and also pay the people who organize the community. They committed (to executives at Dell and others) that they would ultimately setup a standalone body to govern the project before the project was public and endorsed by those early partners. Dell (my employer), Citrix, Accenture and NASA were some of biggest names at the Austin conference launch.
  • Why: A neutral body is needed because a lot of companies are committing significant time and money to the project. They cannot risk their investments on Rackspace good will alone. This may mean many things. It could be they don’t like Rackspace direction or they feel that Rackspace is not investing enough.
  • When: Right now and over the next few releases.  You should give feedback right now on the OpenStack Foundations mission.  The actual foundation will take more time to establish because it requires legal work and funding commitments.
  • Who: The community – all stakeholders. This is important stuff! While trying to standup a financially independent Foundation, which requires moneys, the little guys are not left out. There is a clear realization and desire to enable independent developers and contributors and small players to have a seat at the table.
  • How Much: The amounts are unclear, but establishing a foundation will require a significant ongoing investment from highly involved and moneyed parties (Rackspace, Dell, Cisco, HP, Citrix, NTT, startups?, etc).  The funding will pay salaries for people dedicated to the community doing the things that I’ll discuss below.  Overall, the ROI for those investments must be clear!

The foundation does “governance.” But, what does that mean? Here is a list of vitally important work that the foundation is responsible for.

  • Branding – Protecting, certifying, and promoting the OpenStack brand is important because it ensures that “OpenStack” has a valuable and predictable meaning to contributors and users. A strong the brand also means a stronger temptation for people to abuse the brand by claiming compatibility, participation and integration.
  • API – Many would assume that the OpenStack API is the very heart of the project and there is merit to this position. As more and more OpenStack implementations emerge, it is essential that we have a body that can certify which implementations (and even which versions of the implementation!) are valid. This is a substantial value to the community because API integrity ensures project continuity and helps the ecosystem monetize the project. Note: my opinion differs from others here because I think we should favor API over implementation
  • Community – The OpenStack community is not an accident. It is the function of deliberate actions and choices made by Rackspace and supported by key contributors. That community requires virtual and physical places to coalesce and leaders to organize and manage those meeting places. The excellent conferences, wikis, blogs, media awareness, documentation and meetups are a product of consistent community management.
  • Arbitration – An open source community is a family and siblings do not always get along. Today, Rackspace must be very careful about balancing their own interests because they are like the oldest sibling playing the parent role – you can get away with it until something serious happens. We need a neutral party so that Rackspace can protect their own interests (alternate spin: because Rackspace protects their own interests at the expense of the community).
  • Leadership – OpenStack today is a collection of projects with individual leadership. We will increasingly need coordinated leadership as the number of projects and users increases. Centralized leadership is essential because the good of the project as a whole may mean sacrifices within individual projects. It may even mean that some projects chose to leave the OpenStack tent. Stewarding these challenges will require a new level of leadership.
  • Legal – This is a function of all the above but also something more. From a legal stand point, OpenStack be able to represent itself. There is a significant amount of intellectual property being created. It would be foolish to overlook that this property is valuable and needs adequate legal representation.

I used “vitally important” to describe the above items. Is that an exaggeration? Our goal is collaboration and that requires some infrastructure and rules to make it sustainable. We must have a foundation that encourages innovation (multiple implementations) and collaboration (discourages forking). Innovation and collaboration are the heartbeat of an open source project.

The foundation is vitally important because collaboration by competitors is fragile.

In addition to the core areas above, the foundation needs to handle routine tactical items such as:

  • Delivering on milestones & releases
  • Moving new subprojects into OpenStack
  • Electing and maintaining Project Policy Board
  • Electing and maintaining Project Technical Leads
  • Ensuring adherence and extensions to the current bylaws

At the end of the day, OpenStack monetization is the central value for the Foundation.

In order for the OpenStack project, and thus its foundation, to flourish, the contributors, ecosystem, sponsors and users of the project must be able to see a reasonable return (ROI) on their investment. I would love to believe that the foundation is allow about people banding together to solve important problems for the benefit of all; however, it is more realistic to embrace that we can both collaborate and profit simultaneously. Acknowledging the pragmatic self-interested view allows us to create the right incentives and processes as embodied by the OpenStack foundation.

Crowbar+OpenStack Insights for the week: Food Fight Podcast & Boston Meetup 2/1

Please don’t confuse a lack of posts with a lack of activity!  I’ve been in the center of a whirlwind of Crowbar, OpenStack and Hadoop for my team at Dell.  I’ve also working on an interesting side project with Liquid Leadership author (and would-be star ship captain) Brad Szollose.

I just don’t have time to post all of the awesomeness.  I can tell you that my team is very focused on Hadoop (RHEL 6.2/CentOS 6.2 + open Cloudera Distro) barclamps as we get some Diablo deployments done.  Also the Crowbar list has been very active about Diablo.  If you’re looking for advanced information, there is  some inside scoop on the Crowbar FoodFight podcast I did with Bryan Berry & Matt Ray.

I’ll be in BOSTON THIS WEDNESDAY 2/1 for the OpenStack Meetup there.  We’re going to be talking about Quantum and the OpenStack Foundation.  I suspect that Keystone will come up too (but that’s the subject of another post).  Of course, it’s not just your humble blogger: the whole Dell CloudEdge OpenStack/Crowbar team will be on hand!  So put on your cloud geek hat and take a trip to Harvard for the meetup!

Austin OpenStack Meetup (January Minutes) + OpenStack Foundation Web Cast!

Sorry for the brevity… At the last Austin OpenStack meetup, we had >60 stackers!  Some from as far away as Portland and Boston (as in Oregon and Massachusetts).

Notes:

  • Suse introduced their OpenStack beta and talked about their Suse Studio that can deploy images against the OpenStack APIs
  • I showed off DevStack.org code that can setup the truck of OpenStack (now Essex) in about 10 minutes on a single node.  Great for developers!
  • I showed an OpenStack Diablo Final deployment from Crowbar.  I focused mainly on Dashboard and used our reference architecture (see below) as illustration of the many parts.
  • Matt Ray suggested everyone watch the webcasts about the OpenStack Foundation (Thurs 6pm central  & Friday 9am central)
  • We planned the next few meetups.
    • For February, we’ll talk about Swift and Dashboard.
    • For March, we’ll talk about Essex and DevStack to prep for the next design summit (in SF).
    • For April, we’ll debrief the conference

Thank you Suse and Dell (my employer) for sponsoring!   The next meetup is sponsored by Canonical.

January OpenStack Meetup next Tuesday 1/10 focus on Operation/Install

A reminder that we’re having an OpenStack meetup in Austin next Tuesday (http://www.meetup.com/OpenStack-Austin/events/44184682/).

We’ll have OpenStack fellow-up and general topics including planning our next meeting.

The primary topic for this meeting is Operating OpenStack.  According to the group poll, the plan is to show an hands on OpenStack installation and peel back the covers on configuration.

I’m expecting to use Dell’s Crowbar tool to setup the Rackspace cloud builder distro.  I’m hoping that someone can also show DevStack and some other installations.

It’s not too late to vote: http://www.meetup.com/OpenStack-Austin/polls/444322/

Thanks to Suse and Dell for sponsoring!

Note: If you’re the Boston Area, the next meetup there is 2/1

Details: http://www.foggysoftware.com/2011/12/openstack-in-community.html

February 1, 2012 at 6:30PM EST
Boston OpenStack User Group Meetup
Harvard University, Maxwell Dworkin Building, Rm 119, 33 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA

To register: http://www.meetup.com/Openstack-Boston/

OpenStack Seattle Meetup 11/30 Notes

We had an informal OpenStack meetup after the Opscode Summit in Seattle.

This turned out to be a major open cloud gab fest! In addition to Dell OpenStack leads (Greg and I), we had the Nova Project Technical Lead (PTL, Vish Ishaya, @vish), HP’s Cloud Architect (Alex Howells, @nixgeek), Opscode OpenStack cookbook master (Matt Ray, @mattray). We were joined by several other Chef Summit attendees with OpenStack interest including a pair of engineers from Spain.

We’d planned to demo using Knife-OpenStack against the Crowbar Diablo build.  Unfortunately, the knife-openstack is out of date (August 15th?!).  We need Keystone support.  Anyone up for that?

Highlights

There’s no way I can recapture everything that was said, but here are some highlights I jotted down the on the way home.

  • After the miss with Keystone and the Diablo release, solving the project dependency problem is an important problem. Vish talked at length about the ambiguity challenge of Keystone being required and also incubated. He said we were not formal enough around new projects even though we had dependencies on them. Future releases, new projects (specifically, Quantum) will not be allowed to be dependencies.
  • The focus for Essex is on quality and stability. The plan is for Essex to be a long-term supported (LTS) release tied to the Ubuntu LTS. That’s putting pressure on all the projects to ensure quality, lock features early, and avoid unproven dependencies.
  • There is a lot of activity around storage and companies are creating volume plug-ins for Nova. Vish said he knew of at least four.
  • Networking has a lot of activity. Quantum has a lot of activity, but may not emerge as a core project in time for Essex. There was general agreement that Quantum is “the killer app” for OpenStack and will take cloud to the next level.  The Quantum Open vSwitch implementaiton is completely open source and free. Some other plugins may require proprietary hardware and/or software, but there is definitely a (very) viable and completely open source option for Quantum networking.
  • HP has some serious cloud mojo going on. Alex talked about defects they have found and submitted fixes back to core. He also hinted about some interesting storage and networking IP that’s going into their OpenStack deployment. Based on his comments, I don’t expect those to become public so I’m going to limit my observations about them here.
  • We talked about hypervisors for a while. KVM and XenServer (via XAPI) were the primary topics. We did talk about LXE & OpenVZ as popular approaches too. Vish said that some of the XenServer work is using Xen Storage Manager to manage SAN images.
  • Vish is seeing a constant rise in committers. It’s hard to judge because some committers appear to be individuals acting on behalf of teams (10 to 20 people).

Note: cross posted on the OpenStack Blog.

Reminder: 12/8 Meetup @ Austin!

Missed this us in Seattle? Join us at the 12/8 OpenStack meetup in Austin co-hosted by Dell and Rackspace.

Based on our last meetup, it appears deployment is a hot topic, so we’ll kick off with that – bring your experiences, opinions, and thoughts! We’ll also open the floor to other OpenStack topics that would be discussed – open technical and business discussions – no commercials please!

We’ll also talk about organizing future OpenStack meet ups! If your company is interested in sponsoring a future meetup, find Joseph George at the meetup and he can work with you on details.

Talk with Team Crowbar! Online 11/8, Austin 11/15, Boston 11/29 & 11/29 & Seattle 11/30

My team at Dell has been getting a great response from our community about Crowbar. Thanks! We’re actively working a rock solid OpenStack deployment that will raise the bar on ease of deploy and drive operational excellence.

We have also heard that we need to improve access to the team; consequently, I’m delighted to announce a long list of places and dates where you can access us online AND in person.

Here’s the list:

Or in a calendar view:

Sun Mon Tuesday Wed Thursday Fri Sat
11/8 Online
Crowbar Chat
11/15 Austin
Cloud User
11/29 Boston
OpenStack Meetup
11/30 Seattle
Crowbar Drinks TBD
12/6 Boston
Opscode BoaF
12/8 Austin
OpenStack Meetup

Notes from 10/27 OpenStack Austin Meetup (via Stephen Spector)

Stephen Spector (now a Dell Services employee!) gave me permission to repost his excellent notes from the first OpenStack Austin (#OSATX) Meetup Group.

Here are his notes:

[Stephen] wanted to update everyone on the Austin OpenStack Meetup last night at the Austin TechRanch sponsored by Joseph and Rob (that’s me!) of the Dell OpenStack team (I think I got that right?). You can find all the tweets from the event at https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23osatx as we created a new hashtag for tweeting during the event, #osatx.

Here are some highlights from the event:

  • About 60 or so attendees with a good amount from Dell (Barton George, Logan McCloud)and Rackspace, Opscode (Matt Ray), Puppet Labs, SUSE talked about their OpenStack commitment (http://t.co/bBnIO7xv), and Ubuntu folks as well
  • Jon Dickinson who is the Project Technical Lead for Swift (Object Storage) was there and presented information on the current Swift offering; It is interesting to note that Swift releases continuously when most of OpenStack releases during the 6 month development cycle like Nova (Compute)
  • Stephen and Jim Plamondon from Rackspace presented information on the overall community and talked about the announcement yesterday from Internap about their Compute public cloud and the information on the MercadoLibre 600 Node Compute cloud running their business:

“With 58 million users of MercadoLibre.com and growing rapidly, we need to provide our teams instant access to computing resources without heavy administrative layers. With OpenStack, our internal users can instantly provision what they need without having to wait for a system administrator,” said Alejandro Comisario, Infrastructure Senior Engineer, MercadoLibre, the largest online trading platform in Latin America. “With our success running OpenStack Compute in production, we plan to roll OpenStack Diablo out more broadly across the company, and have appreciated the community support in this venture, especially through the OpenStack Forums, where we are also global moderators.”

  • Discussion on the OpenStack API Issue which is a significant open issue at this time – should OpenStack focus on creating an API specification and then let multiple implementations of that API move forward or build 1 implementation of the API as official OpenStack (see my post for more on this).
  • Greg Althaus gave a demo of the Nova Dashboard
  • Future Meetings
  • Three organizations have offered to help host (pizza $ and TechRanch space $) but we always need more!  You can offer to sponsor via the meetup site.
  • There will be future OpenStack Austin Meetups so sign up for the group and you’ll be notified automatically.

Pictures…

Continue reading

Austin OpenStack Cloud Meetup: Thursday 10/27 6:30 PM at TechRanch Austin

OpenStack Enthusiasts, you are OFFICIALLY INVITED to Austin’s first post-Diablo OpenStack community event.

Dell is sponsoring an Austin OpenStack Meet Up help connect the Austin community around OpenStack and open source clouds!

Link: http://www.meetup.com/OpenStack-Austin/events/37908242/

We’ve got members of the Rackspace Cloud Builders Training team in town and Dell’s own Crowbar team attending.  We’re planning to do OpenStack demos and talk about the project in detail – and we’ll have plenty of pizza and sodas to keep the cloud juices flowing.

This is a great way to learn about the OpenStack cloud project and meet other people who are developing/deploying the hottest open source cloud around.

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD – we’re trying to make this inaugural OpenStack meetup a big success!

See you there,

Joseph @jbgeorge George & Rob @Zehicle Hirschfeld

Bootstrapping Hyperscale OpenStack Clouds – slides from 2/3 OpenStack SJC Meetup

The OpenStack meeting lightening talk is only 5 minutes, so the deck is mostly pictures that support points around a more detailed followup.

Here’s the deck: bootstrapping clouds preso

 and my Hyperscale white paper (links through Dell.com)

The theme of the talk is that hyperscale systems requires a fundamentally different management paradigm because at hyperscale

hardware faults are common,manual steps are impractical and small costs add up quickly.

Included in the preso are concepts I introduced at Flatness at the Edge.

2/10 Update: Now you can watch it Thanks to “@opnstk_com_mgr Stephen Spector lighting talks video of Rob Hirschfeld, Dell at Santa Clara, CA Meetup Feb 3, 2011 http://ow.ly/3U8OA

“Flatness at the Edges” guides hyperscale cloud design

As I’m working on a larger “cloud bootstrapping” white paper (look for a pending Dell release), I stumbled on an apparent unifying principle for hyperscale cloud design.  I’m interested in feedback about this concept to see if it fairly encapsulates a common target for cloud hardware, networking and software design.

“Flatness at the Edges” is one of the guiding principles of hyperscale cloud designs.  

Flatness means that cloud infrastructure avoids creating tiers where possible.  For example, having a blade in a frame aggregating networking that is connected to a SAN via a VLAN is a tiered design in which the components are vertically coupled.  A single node with local disk connected directly to the switch has all the same components but in a single “flat” layer.  

Edges are the bottom tier (or “leaves” to us CS geeks) of the cloud.  Being flat creates a lot of edges because most of the components are self contained.  To scale and reduce complexity, clouds must rely on the edges to make independent decisions such as how to route network traffic, where to replicate data, or when to throttle VMs.  The anti-example of edge design is using VLANs to segment tenants because VLANs (a limited resource) require configuration at the switching tier to manage traffic generated by an edge component.  We are effectively distributing an intelligence overhead tax on each component of the cloud rather than relying on a “centralized overcloud” to rule them all. 

Combining flatness and edges evolves the sympathetic concepts into full-fledged cloud design principle.

Interested in discussing this face to face?  I’ll presenting this and other cloud setup concepts that the SJC OpenStack meetup on 2/3.