Thoughts on OpenStack Foundation

The last day of the OpenStack Design Summit and Conference it was announced that OpenStack would now be run as a foundation, rather than as a corporate subsidiary of Rackspace. I believe this is an important step in the growth and stability of this project, and am very excited about the plans.

The day of the announcement there was also a governance town hall meeting. The meeting was conducted with attendees sitting in a circle, discussing the foundation formation as a group. It felt the way a community discussion should feel: warm, open, but with a little bit of critical questioning on occasion as well. During this meeting a number of good ideas were put forward about who we should be getting advice from, possible structures, and most importantly, how we’ll create the foundation as a community over the next year. I think this discussion was a great starting point for the rest of the process.

In the next couple weeks we’ll hear how to actively participate in the creation of the foundation. I’m sure however the process works, that it’ll be transparent and fair. I also have a strong feeling that the outcome of this process will be a foundation that can not easily be coerced by a single vendor.

A few topics that I brought up during the town hall discussion concerned the possibility of the foundation being controlled by a single vendor. The first topic was about how roles in the foundation would be filled. Would the foundation employ all of the roles, or would they be appointed from community members? In the latter case, a single vendor can control the foundation by being the one that continuously occupies all of the positions. In the former case, the foundation would control the roles, but would require far more money to operate. My second topic was regarding control and money. How would donations be handled? Would it be possible for one vendor to control the foundation through being the primary sponsor? My third topic regarded the current situation with community roles. Nearly every role is currently filled by Rackspace. Should we limit the number of appointments any one specific organization can have?

I was very happy with the responses to my questions. Initial thoughts about employees vs appointments were that appointments will likely lead to a stronger community and it’s likely best to not have a sprawling foundation. The money question likely comes down to how much can legally be donated. Lastly, the thoughts on limiting appointments was that it is likely unnecessary and that it may hinder community involvement. Limiting appointments was initially tried on the software development policy side of things and no one liked it. It was also mentioned that we should be encouraging participation from every vendor in a way that is ongoing, rather than one-off.

My questions revolved around control. The project is, and will likely still be mostly lead and controlled by Rackspace for the near future. Of course, these questions are also purely theoretical. Rackspace has done an amazing job leading this project and encouraging participation and growth so far, and they haven’t used the project to benefit themselves over other community members. They just happen to currently be the organization that has the largest commitment to the project, since the project is still so young. That’s a great thing. I’m hoping to see the same level of commitment, if not even more from Rackspace after the foundation is formed. I’m also hoping to see much greater participation from other members of the community. I think that diversity will naturally occur over time as more community members add resources from their organizations.

I’d like to thank Rackspace for forming the foundation, and I’d like to thank in advance all the community members that are going to be working together to make this happen. Let’s make the project strong together!