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Individual Member Profile


Allison Randal

Date Joined
August 03, 2012

Open Source Initiative From 2014-04-05 (Current)
Hewlett Packard Enterprise From 2014-01-21 (Current)
The Perl Foundation From 2003-05-15 (Current)
Onyx Neon, Inc. From 2002-11-01 (Current)
Statement of Interest

I've been quietly involved in OpenStack since before it had a name: people in the project who know me ask me interesting questions, and I give thoughtful answers.




Allison is a software developer and open source strategist. She is president of the Open Source Initiative, a board member of the OpenStack Foundation, a board member of the Perl Foundation, and co-founder of the FLOSS Foundations group for open source leaders. She previously served as President of the Perl Foundation, Chief Architect of the Parrot virtual machine, Open Source Evangelist and OSCON Conference Chair at O'Reilly Media, Chairman of the Board at the Parrot Foundation, board member at the Python Software Foundation, Technical Architect of Ubuntu and Open Source Advisor at Canonical.

She participates in the Debian, Ubuntu, Python, and OpenStack projects, and is currently a Distinguished Technologist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise working on open source strategy, and leading a team of engineers focused on upstream open source development in OpenStack and Python.



Allison is a candidate in the 2016 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?


Historically, I worked as DevOps before, during, and after the dot-com boom (we didn't have a catchy name for it back then), so my passion for OpenStack has many elements of "scratching my own itch", pushing the envelope in automated deployment and management of larger and larger infrastructures. As a Python developer, I anticipated participating in OpenStack more actively as a developer. I even took a job a couple of years ago intending to work on Nova full-time, but they ended up immediately tapping my other skillsets, taking up all my time with strategic work. I am also currently an engineering manager of a team of upstream OpenStack developers.

I believe OpenStack plays a vital role in the open source ecosystem and in the future of cloud technology, one of the key projects that serves to promote "innovation and choice on the Internet", as Mozilla is fond of saying. The open source nature of OpenStack opens up economic opportunities in cloud technology around the world. It is an important example of one style of modern open source development, funded by corporate interests but guided by the technical governance of individual contributors.

I don't have a good way to evaluate how significant my personal impact on OpenStack has been, but some notable historical points where I might have had influence are:

* Early conversations on the future of cloud technology with friends and colleagues in the Ubuntu community and at Canonical, before they moved on to Rackspace and other companies.

* Planning the launch of the OpenStack project at OSCON (I was conference chair of OSCON at the time).

* Participating in conversations around whether Ubuntu should switch from Eucalyptus to OpenStack (I was Technical Architect of Ubuntu at the time, not my call, but one of many supporting voices).

* Advocating for technical governance elected by developers, in the formation of the OpenStack Foundation.

* Work on open source strategy for OpenStack at Hewlett Packard Enterprise over the past two years. I only claim direct responsibility for a handful of ideas in HPE's overall strategy, and consider my greater contribution to be facilitating a thoughtful approach to deliberate and emergent strategy that involves upstream developers in the higher-level strategic process, leading to better strategies that are simultaneously beneficial to both the OpenStack project and the company.

* Advocating for switching to the DCO for individual contributors, running a survey of developer perspectives on contribution agreements, and presenting the results to the OpenStack board of directors.

* Co-founding the Product Working Group, together with Rob Hirschfeld, Sean Roberts, and Stefano Maffulli, and promptly handing off leadership of the group to the Product-focused people we recruited.

At every point, the outcome was a reasonable approximation of my ideal result, which could mean that my opinions were shared by a large number of people (perhaps even completely obvious to any casual observer), or it might mean there are thin traces of my technical DNA laced through OpenStack. I'll never know for sure. Either way, I have an easy conscience that any influence I might possibly have had over the years, has been in a positive direction toward the long-term health and success of OpenStack. Knowing that I was a good influence is more important to me than knowing whether I was a significant influence.


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 been on the board of some combination of open source non-profit foundations continuously every year since 2003, serving as president/chairman on three of the foundation boards. I have extensive familiarity with the "business" of an open source foundation, the role of an open source board member, and the intricate combination of perspectives, motivations, and expectations from individual developers, non-profit leadership, and sponsors, that make the open source collaboration model so successful, when woven together appropriately.


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


Good executive leadership is a balance, involving seeing the external environment and internal paths with the greatest chances of success, communicating those opportunities to people in a position to make them a reality, allocating resources to support the mission, and yet avoiding the temptation to micro-manage on execution. One good analogy might be a gardner who selects good soil in adequate sunlight, ensures a steady supply of water and fertilizer, and protects against insects or disease that might destroy the crop, without going over-the-top into Bonsai pruning that stunts growth.


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


OpenStack is in a critical period over the next 2-3 years, where it is both mature enough to have wide-spread adoption and investment from the industry, and also young enough to still be experiencing the technical and social growing pains common to a 5-year-old open source project. There isn't anything particularly novel about this period, plenty of other open source projects have successfully navigated similar growing pains. But, it can be a risky period, demanding a particularly clear-headed style of leadership. Some areas where I'd like to see the board continue and/or increase focus are:

* Higher-level and longer-term strategic analysis of OpenStack's position in the wider ecosystem of open source and cloud technology, including upcoming risks and opportunities.

* Deeper insight into operator/user/customer needs, and blockers to greater adoption.

* Insight into contributor lifecycles, recruiting for technical and social diversity, easing the onramps, training for increasing expertise, reducing burnout, and supporting graceful retirement. The management policies and practices of contributing companies are an important dimension of open source projects like OpenStack, with a high percentage of contributors employed specifically for the purpose of open source development.

Allison has already been nominated by:

  • Shamail Tahir
  • Sean Dague
  • Alexis Lee
  • Arun Kant
  • VM Brasseur
  • Paul Carlton
  • Jack Mac
  • Thierry Carrez
  • Beth Elwell
  • Stefano Maffulli