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Individual Member Profile


Richard Fontana

Date Joined
August 01, 2012

Hewlett-Packard From 2014-09-02 (Current)
Red Hat, Inc. From 2008-02-25 To 2014-08-25
Statement of Interest

I am a lawyer in the Cloud and Open Source group at HP, with special responsibility for open source strategy and counseling Cloud BU engineering, and as such a significant amount of my work relates directly and indirectly to OpenStack. I was previously a lawyer at Red Hat where I advised developers on matters relating to OpenStack and represented Red Hat on the OpenStack Foundation Legal Affairs Committee. I am generally interested in promoting the success of OpenStack as a meritocratic open source community project. In 2012 I served on the drafting committee for the OpenStack Foundation governance documents on behalf of Red Hat.




Richard Fontana is Senior Director and Associate General Counsel on the Cloud & Open Source legal team at HP. His legal role at HP encompasses open source strategy as well as support for HP's cloud engineering organization. Prior to joining HP in 2014, Richard was at Red Hat (2008-2014), where he was Red Hat's lead open source counsel and supported Red Hat Engineering and the CTO's office. Richard represented Red Hat on the committee that drafted the original bylaws of the OpenStack Foundation and has served on the OpenStack Foundation Legal Affairs Committee both while at Red Hat and now at HP.

For several years Richard has been an influential speaker and thought leader on issues lying at the intersection of open source, law and policy. He is a Board Director of the Open Source Initiative, the first OSI board member to be elected by the OSI's individual



Richard is a candidate in the 2015 Board 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 have been providing legal advice and support to OpenStack upstream and product development teams since 2011. I have also been involved in OpenStack Foundation governance matters during formation of the Foundation (bylaws drafting committee) and afterwards (Legal Affairs Committee). I am passionately devoted to advancing the kind of multi-company, collaborative open community development model that OpenStack represents. OpenStack's success is, for me, a measure of the success of that method of developing software. I also believe strongly that it is in the public interest for there to be an open alternative to proprietary cloud computing technology.

I am not an OpenStack developer or operator. But much of my work around OpenStack has been motivated by the goal of increasing the empowerment of OpenStack's technical community in relation to its business stakeholders. I may be most familiar to some in the OpenStack community for my sharp critique of OpenStack's CLA system, an issue which I see in some sense as a proxy for the larger issue of empowerment and autonomy of the technical community. To the extent that I have helped further that empowerment, even marginally, I consider that my most significant contribution to OpenStack's success to date. OpenStack cannot succeed as a project, and therefore as a technology and ecosystem, without promotion of a healthy and equal balance between technical and business leadership.


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?


Since 2013 I have been a member of the Board of Directors of the Open Source Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to supporting and promoting open source as a licensing and development model. My earlier open source-related nonprofit experience includes serving on the Board of Directors of Open Source Matters, the nonprofit asset steward of the Joomla! CMS project, and serving as counsel at the Software Freedom Law Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing legal services to open source projects and foundations.


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


Individual board members play a key role in advancing views and interests of individual OpenStack developers, operators and users to
provide balance to the heavy representation of business interests on the Board. The Board must help OpenStack evolve into a more stable, interoperable and easily-deployable technology. But it is critical for OpenStack's success that the Board's role be limited: it must not interfere with the independent technical direction of OpenStack by the TC and the larger technical community.


What do you think the top priority of the Board should be in 2014?


The Board must continue to provide, direct and manage the resources to support upstream development of OpenStack, promote downstream deployment of OpenStack clouds, and encourage the growth of an innovative technical and commercial OpenStack ecosystem, while maintaining the integrity of OpenStack's division of business and technical leadership.

Richard has already been nominated by:

  • Mark McLoughlin
  • Richard Morrell
  • Haïkel Guémar
  • Doug Hellmann
  • Russell Bryant
  • Loic Dachary
  • Peter Robinson
  • Pádraig Brady
  • Rhys Oxenham
  • Sean Dague