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Individual Member Profile


Tim Bell

Date Joined
July 19, 2012

CERN From 2005-06-01 (Current)
Statement of Interest

Large scale deployment of clouds to support scientific research


Tim is responsible for the group at CERN which manages the infrastructure services for 11,000 physicists around the world. I previously worked as a Unix kernel developer at IBM along with managing large scale Unix production deployments and services for Deutsche Bank in Europe.

My team is running the CERN OpenStack cloud which has been in production since July 2013 and is currently around 80,000 cores. This cloud provides processing power for the physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider and its experiments which produce around 27PB a year. We had the honour of winning the inaugural superuser award (http://superuser.openstack.org/articles/and-the-superuser-award-goes-to) in Paris for contributions to OpenStack.




I'm involved in the following OpenStack projects: Nova,Glance,Keystone,Horizon,Cinder,Ceilometer,Openstack-manuals


Tim 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 a member of the OpenStack foundation management board since the foundation was launched and am also a member of the user committee (http://www.openstack.org/foundation/user-committee/) and the travel support program which sponsors contributors for summit attendance.

As part of CERN's expansion to meet the extreme challenges of the Large Hadron Collider computing requirements, we are implementing a large scale Infrastructure as a Service based on OpenStack.

The CERN OpenStack use case has most recently been described in one of the keynotes at Paris (https://www.openstack.org/summit/openstack-paris-summit-2014/session-videos/presentation/cern-openstack-user-story) but we have been sharing experiences at summits since the Essex summit in Boston along with many operator meetups, user groups, industry events and blogs such as http://openstack-in-production.blogspot.ch/. 

OpenStack provides a key part of CERN's strategy to adopt common tools in use by similar scale organisations and contribute to the community. As an open research centre, we can share our experiences and benefit from the work of others towards a common goal. 

As a member of the OpenStack user committee, we run the confidential survey of users and deployments, consolidating the results as feedback for the design summit and the technical committee.

These outreach activities help to grow the user community and encourage sharing of best practises with others running OpenStack such as the operator meetups at the summits and mid-cycle meetings.


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?


At the first round of elections in 2012, I was elected to the OpenStack board of directors representing the individuals of the foundation. I have found it highly rewarding to be part of the OpenStack movement and contribute my perspective as an OpenStack user to the board discussions and decisions. Equally, frequent outreach activities and summits give the opportunity to discuss with community members from developmers, operators to consumers of OpenStack and ensure that I represent the broad range of opinions of the membership.

Since my daily work is for a non-profit organisation, international collaboration, meritocracy and community consensus are part of my organisation's culture. From the invention of the world wide web, CERN has been heavily involved in open source development activities, sharing our improvments and benefitting from the work of others.



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


Given the continued expansion of the membership and OpenStack related developments, the board's role to ensure correct governance and strategic direction for the foundation becomes more critical. The individual membership roles on the board give the community influence and should reflect the varied electorate from developers, operators and end users.

We need to deliver compatible implementations of OpenStack across multiple organisations. Innovation and functional expansion is welcome but this must be within a clear definition of what is OpenStack and without diluting the continued improvements in the maturity and ease of deployment of those core components.


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


Firstly, there is a need to clarify what OpenStack is (and what it is not). The ongoing work around the definition of core is key but we also need to encourage the development of a strong ecosystem using the OpenStack APIs and allowing innovation in the ecosystem around OpenStack such that projects can thrive.

Secondly, there is a need to focus on how OpenStack will evolve. With the significant growth of production deployments as shown in the user survey in Paris, we need to work on the feedback from operators and consumers of OpenStack to expand the market, especially as regards enterprise deployments. As the regular operator meetups can demonstrate, there is improvement and best practises are emerging, however there is still a significant barrier to entry.

Finally, we need to continue the drive to include the worldwide community. Significant contributions and deployments come from outside the US and the first summit in Paris was a great success to show that OpenStack is a worldwide community. Encouraging this diversity through user groups and community meetups requires investments, such as the Travel support program to make sure we reach the largest talent pools and use cases.



Tim has already been nominated by:

  • Jonathan Bryce
  • Todd Morey
  • Mark McLoughlin
  • Tom Fifield
  • Vishvananda Ishaya
  • Syed Armani
  • Tristan Goode
  • David Lyle
  • Kavit Munshi
  • Kyle Mestery