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 a board member of the OpenStack Foundation, a board member of the Software Freedom Conservancy, 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 Open Source Initiative, President of the Perl Foundation, board member at the Python Software Foundation, Chief Architect of the Parrot virtual machine, Chairman of the Board at the Parrot Foundation, Open Source Evangelist at O'Reilly Media, Conference Chair of OSCON, Technical Architect of Ubuntu, Open Source Advisor at Canonical, Distinguished Technologist and Open Source Strategist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Distinguished Engineer at SUSE. She participates in the Debian and OpenStack projects, and is currently taking a mid-career research sabbatical to complete a PhD at the University of Cambridge.
I was aware of and interested in OpenStack before it even had a name.
I believe OpenStack plays a vital role in the open source ecosystem and in the future of open infrastructure 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 open infrastructure 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.
Overall, my greatest contribution to OpenStack has been through strategic initiatives. In my first year on the board, I facilitated a series of strategic exercises with the Board, Technical Committee, and User Committee, which led to defining a set of strategic areas for OpenStack and adjacent technologies, and ultimately to opening the doors of the OpenStack Foundation to host the projects Zuul, Kata Containers, Airship, and StarlingX. In my second and third years on the board, I participated in strategic planning around the governance framework for hosting pilot and confirmed projects, and the process for progressing projects from "pilot" to "confirmed".
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 am deeply familiar 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 participating companies, that make the open source collaboration model so successful, when woven together appropriately.
Good executive leadership is a balance, involving seeing the external environment and internal paths with the greatest chances of success, collaborating on exploring those opportunities with 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.
Some of OpenStack's greatest strengths are our history of collaboration with other open source projects/technologies (like Linux, Python, KVM, etc.); our model of open self-governance that allows communities of contributors to adapt over time to new situations, new challenges, and new opportunities; our approach to evolving infrastructure that integrates new technology for new use cases and new user needs; and our approach to development where independent and inter-dependent projects have clearly-defined integration points, which are tested well together and work well together.
Looking at current trends in cloud/infrastructure, we see that the long-standing dominant proprietary vendor in the market (naming no names) is declining, a second proprietary vendor is gaining on them (again naming no names), but the long tail of "other" vendors is also continuing to grow. That long tail of vendors relies heavily on open infrastructure projects like OpenStack and Kubernetes (and Linux), which lower the barriers to entry in the market, and make it possible to successfully compete with goliaths in the industry. Even the "big two" depend heavily on open source projects for their success, though they may not freely acknowledge it in public. As the cloud/infrastructure market follows the normal and natural process of "commoditization", the opportunity we must recognize is that the collaborative power of hundreds of companies participating in open source always has the potential to innovate faster than any one company, creating economic value for users and operators on a global scale.
The OpenStack Foundation has a proven track record of providing a home for open infrastructure projects in the closely-related strategic areas of cloud, CI/CD, edge, and container/serverless infrastructure, and continues to take concrete steps to collaborate with adjacent communities in open infrastructure (like Kubernetes). Our mission to produce open infrastructure that is "easy to use, simple to implement, interoperable between deployments, works well at all scales, and meets the needs of users and operators" remains crucial in the coming year, and for many years to come. This will be a year of addressing challenges with honesty, while embracing opportunties with confidence in what we have achieved and enthusiasm for what still lies ahead.
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