Discussions at Breakfast with the Board – OpenStack April 2013 Summit

It is an exciting time to be part of the OpenStack community.  It was a great conference with lots of momentum around OpenStack.  The speed and growth of the community is amazing.

Tuesday morning during the Summit, we continued the tradition of Breakfast With The Board (BwtB).  We wish to thank all who participated.  As board members we very much appreciated your comments of support, feedback and ideas.  We heard many positive and encouraging comments  and participated in many lively discussions.

Through this writeup we would like to share what we heard.   There was a wide variety of topics discussed, including:

Summit Design Session Growing Pains
Despite a variety of changes tested and introduced over the past Summits, accommodating all who wish to participate in the Summit design sessions continue to exhibit growing pains.  The design sessions are “intended to be small, focused developer working sessions where the roadmap is set by active contributors on the project.”  With such a description it is easy to see why so many business persons, users, and developers want to participate or listen in. Yet the fear is that a varied large audience will decrease session output.

Many ideas were voiced at the BwtB as to how to address the issue, including room moderators, attendee prioritization, seating arrangements and session segregation.

“Scotty we need more power er WIFI”
While the conference survey will prioritize on  what items will be most relevant to improve for the next Summit, one of the vocal suggestion at the BwtB was the never ending need for more WIFI.  We techies live on WIFI.

Who the heck is…
Leading the list for reasons to attend the Summit is to simply meet people we work with on IRC and other community channels.  A simple suggestion was made that we add IRC nicks in a nice big font to the front and back of the conference badges. 50% of the time you see the back of someone’s badge and don’t know who they are.

Traveling to the Fall Summit
For those traveling to the fall Summit from the North America, concerns over prohibitive travel costs was raised.  Determining a Summit location is made up of many different factors.  Cost of travel being one.    A Summit location effects attendance, whether it be in Portland or Hong Kong.  Balancing that cost can be tricky.   The planning committee investigations concluded that attendees will find that the travel rates will not be the feared prohibitive if they do some research and book early.

Driving Priorities
Several discussions evolved around the idea of how customer priorities are injected into each projects focus and features. Typically in a corporate development model such interests are captured and formulated into the development model through Product Owners (PO) or Product Managers (PM).  How does this map to the OpenStack model?  Which is easily generalized to how does this map to the open source world?

At the BwtB, several of the discussions converged on the notion of contribution.  Contribution either in the form of code, leadership or voice.  One company simply cannot pretend to make choices for resources in another company. At most you can find other resources from a  company which share a problem you are helping describe and therefore solve.

A familiar saying in the open source world is “scratch the itch”.  It is this saying which has driven open source developers for years.  If you find a need that nothing out there can meet, write a solution yourself or better yet voice the need to help find those who share in the need and write a solution together contributing in ways that leverage your experience and expertise or providing support to those who can contribute for you.

Big Vision
Also discussed at the BwtB was the notion of having the TC play more of a role across the various projects, for things like security and API versioning, aligning and setting direction across the groups. Citing the need for the TC (or someone at least) to give more cross project consideration for:
API compatibility and consistency
architectural consistency
security
Input from Users to guide our path

Align the Doc
Opinions voiced concerns that the documentation lags the implementations.  So how do we  make the OpenStack documentation more up-to-date and improve quality and timelines?  That was the question raised by attendees at the BwtB.  Offered suggestions included a requirement for documentation changes to be checked in concurrent with the code, rather than just setting a flag that the doc’s might be effected.

What comprises OpenStack?
A couple of tables discussed the current progress around the current Core/Integrated/Incubated framework with input on moving forward; people seem to prefer the kernel/drivers analogy. There is confusion regarding the new approach to core-integrated-incubation,  what the differences are, who gets seats on the TC, etc.  Early and continued discussions at Technical Committee and Board on this are important for next phases of the effort. It is important  to ensure that the TC and Board sign off on all steps with formal statements by the foundation when we arrive at any and all conclusions.

Interoperability
There is a lot of interop interest. Folks at the BwtB seemed to be mostly happy with the refstack approach. They voiced opinions about whether API-based interop or same-codebase interop is appropriate in various projects and for having verification teams for plug-ins.

Marketing OpenStack
Where does OpenStack as the data center operating system model go?  How to support that?  Marketing discussions ranged across several of the tables.  Including a conversation at one of the tables  on how to best explain OpenStack to CIO/IT Directors. Participants in the discussion felt that the video overviews available on the OpenStack website as well as the user stories presented at the Summit Keynotes were of great help.

Others pondered why FUD is generated by open source competition with a  lack of sense of those for who their competition really should be (proprietary software).

And others voiced concern over perceptions around OpenStack.  These perceptions include, complexity, talent shortages, security gaps and that it takes too many people to run OpenStack.  Such perceptions create a barrier to adoption.

Transparency
The Board at its February meeting, launch a committee to improve transparency and foster collaboration between the foundation members and members of the board, technical committee, user committee and other committees.  Members of the committee took the opportunity to discuss, at their tables, the committee ideas and efforts.  Everyone is all for transparency and seeking a balance between transparency and compromising the strategic position of the project was accepted as an important consideration. The ombudsman and staggered release were seen as valid solutions.

Attendees also voiced the importance for direct participation within project processes.  It is important that the TC and board to listen to what the project have to say.

Elections
The Board at its February meeting also launched an effort to improve the Individual member election process.  The board members engaged in this effort took the opportunity to gather feedback at the BwtB on the ideas and efforts underway.  Many were pleased that a schedule for implementation of changes is being set and were pleased with the efforts so far.

Conclusion
As you can see there was a wide range of topics raised and discussed.  Each of which could be worthy of a full writeup on its own. As a board we appreciate the input.  We will delve into the issues further and will use this input to guide the prioritization of our efforts.  So again thank you for your participation. We look forward to the next BwtB at the fall Summit.

Regards,

OpenStack Board of Directors