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Individual Member Profile


Mark Voelker

Date Joined
July 19, 2012

VMware From 2014-12-01 (Current)
Cisco From 2013-06-17 To 2014-11-30
Statement of Interest

I serve as OpenStack Architect for one of VMware's product lines as my day job. I also cofounded the Triangle OpenStack Meetup in Research Triangle Park, NC and am generally interested in building a strong community around the project.




Mark Voelker is currently an OpenStack Architect with VMware, but generally prefers to think of himself as a breadth-first technologist. In past lives he has worked as a software engineer, engineering manager, and architect designing web applications, automation systems, mobile apps, traffic generators, and more weasely hacks than he can shake a stick at. He also helped design and support the infrastructure supporting his software, including LANs, award-winning SANs, load balancing, and servers. Mark currently works on enterprise cloud architecture, software defined networking, and distributed systems. He's been enamoured of Open Source approximately since his first exposure to the Internet, helped found Cisco's Open Source Conference and was part of the OpenStack@Cisco team before joining VMware in 2014 where he leads architecture for the VMware Integrated OpenStack R&D team. Mark has been active in the OpenStack community since 2011 when he attended the Diablo Design Summit and has been an attendee and/or speaker at every Summit since.  He is OpenStack Foundation member #54 and owns enough OpenStack t-shirts that he can go long stretches without doing laundry.  Mark co-founded the Triangle OpenStack Meetup in Research Triangle Park, NC in 2013 and currently leads the group's 830+ members.  As an application developer and infrastructure afficionado, Mark is concerned with interoperability of cloud platforms and is a very active participant in the DefCore Committee.  He is also a former core reviewer on the Puppet OpenStack project.  He has a habit of including vacation photos and Douglas Adams quotes in his presentations and his time can generally be bought with a sufficient quantity of doughnuts. When not holed up within the trail-photo covered walls of his workspace at home near Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, Mark can be found hiking, camping, backpacking, or making sawdust with extreme prejudice. Mark is a proud alumni of the Park Scholarships at NC State University and currently serves as a Regional Selection Leader for the scholarship. You can also find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, or at his occasional blog.



I'm involved in the following OpenStack projects: Nova,Swift,Glance,Keystone,Horizon,Quantum,Cinder,Ceilometer,Heat,Openstack-ci,QA,Deployment


Mark is a candidate in the 2016 Board Election .

Mark has been nominated enough times to appear on the election ballot. You can read the answers Mark gave to the election questions below.


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?


My relationship with OpenStack began in 2011 with my first design summit.  I was immediately impressed by the community members I met and the open processes being put in place: it felt like a community that was interested in solving real problems together.  Since then I've served in a number of roles both as part of my day job (development manager, team leader, technical contributor, architect, bug tsar, codemonkey) and of my own personal volition (most of the preceeding, plus community user group cofounder, evangelist, conference speaker and organizer, occasional blogger/interviewee, etc).  During my time at Cisco I saw OpenStack as part of a groundswell of support for open source, open standards, and open communities.  In 2014 I moved to a new role with VMware as the lead OpenStack Architect for it's Cloud Platform business unit where I'm working to design OpenStack clouds primarily for enterprise and NFV deployments. 

I've spent a considerable amount of time working with OpenStack operators over the years (attending midcycles and summit sessions, working with customers, and working with community folks via the meetups I organize).  I believe that the best way to understand how to make software better is to deploy it, operate it, and live through the ups and downs of managing it over time.  To that end, I begain contributing to the Puppet OpenStack project and eventually became a core reviewer before stepping down about a year ago when I changed day jobs.

Fulfilling the promise of interoperability among OpenStack clouds is important to me as a developer, operator, and architect of an OpenStack Powered product, which lead me to join the DefCore Committee and become a very active participant (and to take interoperability concerns back to my day job and the product I work on there as well).  Perhaps my biggest contribution to OpenStack has been bringing to light some of the barriers that deployers face in achieving interoperability between OpenStack clouds: things like API's that aren't universally enabled, image formats that aren't readily portable, varying ways to connect instance to externally routable networks, etc.  I've been one of DefCore's most active participants in the past year, when we've seen adherence to DefCore's Guidelines become a mandatory part of the OpenStack Powered logo/licensing program.  More important than a logo though, is that I've been working to use the DefCore Committee to strengthen the feedback loop between operators, tenants, corporations, and the community developer corps.


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 work extensively with the Park Scholarships, the top merit scholarship program at North Carolina State University (I am an alumni both of the University and the Park Scholarships).  I have served on it's selection committee for most of the last decade and currently serve as a regional selection leader, having also served for some years on the board of it's Park Alumni Society.  In the past I've also spent considerable time working with organizations like Helping Horse (a theraputic horseback riding program for individuals with disabilities) and Service Raleigh.  I also co-founded and lead the Triangle OpenStack Meetup in Research Triangle Park, NC.

My past experience with nonprofits has taught me a few lessons:

1.) When your community is important to you, you should listen as much as you speak.  I regularly work with some of the brightest and most passionate high school and college students in the country, and have been aamazed at how often they've made me think about problems in a different vein than I would have myself.  I hold my colleagues in the OpenStack community in a similar vein: we come from a lot of different backgrounds with a lot of different priorities, and we have a lot of opinions.

2.) Work ethic is tremendously important for anyone in a leadership role.  While it's important to delegate and get out of the way for people who have the passion and expertise for a particular thing, it's also important to be passionate yourself and willing to invest your time and energy to get things done.

3.) Patience and committment to a goal.  For some of the organizations and individuals I work with, real sucesses may take years to accomplish.  Having a plan and continuing to pursue it can be difficult, but it's often what differentiates between success and failure in the long run. 


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


The Board's defined role is that it "provides strategic and financial oversight of Foundation resources and staff."  One of the more valuable aspects of that mission is the Board serves as a force to bring together the many facets of our community, including operators, developers, corprations, and end users.  The Board also helps define strategy in the face of a rapidly changing industry landscape, helping bring to the forefront use cases and developments that will drive OpenStack for years to come (recent examples of which might include NFV, containers, interoperability, and enterprise).


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


Breaking down barriers to interoperability has been a major area of focus for me (and some of the existing Board) of late, and I'd like to see us continue that work.  We've begun bringing to light a lot of issues through the DefCore Committee and have been having healthy conversations with the development community and end users about how work past them.  Now that DefCore is up and running as a mandatory part of the OpenStack Powered program, I'd like to see us double down on creating a better feedback loop as we've worked through some of the initial headwinds.  That means strengthening communication with the developer community and Technical Committee, with end users and the User Committee, with operators, and with the companies putting OpenStack Powered clouds on the market.  I'm particularly interested in improving understanding and communication channels with the developer community so that we have the boots-on-the-ground technical folks writing OpenStack code taking interoperability into account in the software decisions they're making.  To that end I've volunteered to help draft a semi-annual report to the TC and UC on top interoperability issues the DefCore Committee uncovers and to help liaise with those groups to help drive resolution.

Mark has already been nominated by:

  • Britt Houser
  • Egle Sigler
  • Mike Dorman
  • Cody Bunch
  • Steve Tegeler
  • Trevor Roberts Jr
  • Tracy Jones
  • Giridhar Jayavelu
  • Sabari Kumar Murugesan
  • Chris Hoge


Nominations are open for the 2016 Board Election.

Log In To Nominate