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Individual Member Profile


Rob Hirschfeld

Date Joined
July 19, 2012

RackN From 2014-10-03 (Current)
OpenStack Board From 2012-10-01 (Current)
Dell From 2009-12-15 To 2014-10-03
Statement of Interest

Leading the "What is Core" Definition (DefCore) and supporting OpenStack Product (Hidden Influencers)




Serving on OpenStack Board since 2012, I've been driving the Core Definition (DefCore) Process and Product Working Group (Hidden Influencers).  I am a balanced voice between business, development and operations needs.  I am also "commercially unbiased" since I am not an employee of a major contributor, vendor or sponsor.

I have been involved in Cloud for over 15 years and launched some of the earliest Cloud companies.  My educational background (Duke and LSU) is in computer science and systems engineering with a focus on distributed systems.  I have always found deployment to be vitally important in developments - that lead me to found a SaaS start-up in 1999 and had made me a DevOps advocate.  In addition to core cloud technologies, I am an Agile/Lean/TDD process evangelist who strongly believes that stability is a feature.

Professionally, I am the CEO and Founder of RackN.  A company focused on automating physical provisioning at scale through the OpenCrowbar project.  Before that, I was a Sr Distinguished Engineer at Dell leading our OpenStack Cloud project ( and also a founder of the Crowbar project (  In both roles, I am in constant contact with OpenStack users, ecosystem developers and vendors world-wide; consequently, I have a very broad perspective on use and technical needs for OpenStack and related Cloud technologies.

You can get a much better perspective on me and my position on OpenStack by visiting



I'm involved in the following OpenStack projects: Nova,Horizon,Cinder,Ironic,Openstack-ci,Deployment


Rob is a candidate in the 2016 Board Election .

Read the Q&A below and see if you want to Nominate Rob in this election.


What is your relationship to OpenStack, and why is its success important to you? What would you say is your biggest contribution to OpenStack's success to date?


I've been involved in OpenStack since the earliest days and am a strong believer in OpenStack as a leader in open source cloud infrastructure.

I have a unique operatonal and ecosystem perspective about the project that leads me to advocate strongly for users and collaboration with other open projects.

Founding and driving the DefCore Committee ("what is OpenStack") has been my biggest contribution so far; however, I've been active in many other ways.  I was a founder of the Product Working Group and the Board of Directors.  On the Board, I've been influential on helping screen new Gold members on the new member committee.  I led a team at Dell that created the first OpenStack Installer (Crowbar, now maintained by SUSE).


Describe your experience with other non profits or serving as a board member. How does your experience prepare you for the role of a board member?


I have served as an Alderman on my local City Council (Rollingwood, TX) and Secretary of a local economic Development board (Rollingwood Development Corporation).  These roles required me to become familar with consensus gonvernance and open meeting laws.

I have founded and sustained open source projects (Crowbar, aka OpenCrowbar and Digital Rebar) from the ground up.

As founder and CEO of RackN, I am familar with the challenges of working in and around the OpenStack ecosystem.


What do you see as the Board's role in OpenStack's success?


The Board plays a more critical role in governance than simply oversight.

In 2014, the Board delivered a process (DefCore) that defines what is required for OpenStack vendors.  This type of heavy lifting and involvement makes the OpenStack board different.  The community looks to the Board to help manage vendor interests and make critical decisions about the OpenStack ecosystem is a balanced way.

As the architect of DefCore, I am uniquely suited to navigate the vendor landscape to ensure the Board continues to support the project actively.


What do you think the top priority of the Board should be in 2016?


Understanding the strategic consequences of Big Tent.

In 2014, the Technical leadership dramatically expanded the scope of the OpenStack project.  This technical change has profound commercial and ecosystem implications for the Foundation and project.

I want to organize a discussion at the Board level to identify and resolve key challlenges to OpenStack.  These include: how we grow our ecosystem and user base, how we balance internal vs external vendor driven efforts, how we cope with external threats, how we resolve internal competition and how OpenStack ensures quality and operational consistency in the new model.

Rob has already been nominated by:

  • Sean Roberts
  • Egle Sigler
  • Rochelle Grober
  • Jack Mac
  • Forrest Carpenter
  • Cody Bunch
  • Chris Hoge
  • Tobias Ford
  • David Flanders


Nominations are open for the 2016 Board Election.

Log In To Nominate