‘Help most needed’ list

‘Help most needed’ list

This document lists at most 5 areas where the OpenStack Technical Committee seeks contributions to significantly help OpenStack as a whole. While in most cases things happen naturally through the normal contribution dynamics in the community, in some cases a tragedy of the commons is at play. Guidance, leadership and proper recognition of efforts is therefore needed to encourage individuals or organizations to contribute in areas where they could make a big impact.

Each item should clearly explain why the item matters (value of the effort to the community, operators and users), why we need help there (description of the current situation) and what experience or benefit the volunteer can expect to gain from tackling it. It should also include the name of a TC sponsor (responsible for evangelizing, articulating and channelling the work, but also facilitating connections between candidates and target teams). For an estimate of the commitment required, interested candidates should reach out to the TC sponsor, or the PTL of the affected project.

Intended Audiences

This document was written with at least two audiences in mind.

The first audience consists of contributors who would be working on the items listed here. Each item should provide a descriptive summary that helps developers grasp the overall problem and possibly how to solve it or contribute.

The second audience is corporate or business sponsors. Ultimately, this audience consists of people who have the ability to delegate resources to work on various initiatives. The description of each item should justify why the item is on the list. Descriptions should refrain from being overly technical. Additionally, business sponsors will find the “Value” section beneficial because it describes how investing resources helps reduce maintenance cost, increase interoperability, provide stability, or deliver value to your customers. Essentially, this section should help businesses understand what they are getting out of the investment.

Both audiences will find the contact information supplied with each item useful for connecting with the right group of people to get resources up-to-speed.

1. Documentation owners

The #1 pain point in OpenStack, especially for new potential adopters, is complexity. While cutting down complexity everwhere we can is critical, proper documentation is essential in addressing that complexity. It directly benefits operators and users of OpenStack, but also facilitates ramping up new direct contributors to the project itself.

The documentation team has been struggling with limited resources since the dawn of OpenStack, despite the heroic efforts of previous team members. An ambitious plan to further decentralize the Documentation team (and turn it into a guidance and mentoring support team) has been outlined. To be successful, this plan requires project teams to own their own documentation, which means that the role of documentation owners will be critical.

Volunteers for this role will in the short term drive this ambitious transition, by being members of their project team and members of the new decentralized documentation team. On the long-term they will become a reference go-to person in their project, and respected mentors in the OpenStack community.

Interested? Contact the Documentation PTL (pkovar) or the TC sponsor for this item (dhellmann).

2. Community Infrastructure Sysadmins

TC Sponsor: Jeremy Stanley (fungi)

The Infrastructure team is responsible for designing, building and maintaining the systems that are used in the day to day operation of the OpenStack project as a whole; this includes development, testing, and collaboration tools. All of the software it runs is open source, and under public configuration management so that everyone in the community has the opportunity to participate. One very effective way to get involved in OpenStack, gaining a deep understanding of and visibility within the community, is by helping operate this infrastructure. Attrition due to shifts in employment or availability of personal time impacts the team’s ability to support the community effectively, and so there is a constant need for new contributors who can commit to investing sufficient effort to overcome the steep learning curve associated with these varied technologies.

Because our community is global, its support needs span most timezones. Unfortunately, the bulk of long-term contributors to Infrastructure are concentrated in the Americas and so this leaves APAC and EMEA community members with far fewer options for immediate assistance with urgent issues. Gaining more contributors who are active during those times (whether they live in those parts of the World or not) would provide a substantial benefit to the community. This is not necessarily as easy as it sounds because it’s harder to get as much overlap with the current bulk of the team for shadowing and knowledge transfer, but there are still some existing team members in those timezones who can help mitigate that somewhat.

In particular, the team seeks developers and systems administrators with a background both in maintaining Unix/Linux servers and free software, and places heavy emphasis on systems automation and configuration management (primarily Ansible and Puppet at the moment). Everything possible goes through code review, and gets extensively documented and communicated with the rest of the community over IRC and mailing lists. Server resources are donated by companies operating OpenStack services, and the team also operates a persistent deployment of OpenStack too, so there is substantial opportunity both for people who have experience in those technologies as well as anyone wishing to gain more familiarity with them.

Join the #openstack-infra channel on the Freenode IRC network or reach out through the openstack-infra mailing lists on lists.openstack.org if you would like to get involved. It’s a rewarding chance to learn and help others, but most of all it’s fun!

3. Designate Contributors

Designate is a service that manages DNS Zones and Recordsets in an OpenStack way. We support multiple DNS Servers, and DNS Service Providers. DNS is a vital service for any network or web based application. DNS is a core part of directing users and applications to a service - it allows the entire underlying infrastructure to be replaced, even moved across regions or clouds, while presenting a consistent endpoint. DNS should be managed along side the servers, load balancers and other equipment in an OpenStack cloud and the integration with Neutron allows for DNS entries to be created when something is connected to a network. For more complicated examples, Heat can be used to manage the DNS zones and records, allowing for entire zones to be created, updated and deleted along side the resources that they point at. Once Designate is in every cloud, you can bring a heat template from cloud to cloud, and have a user ready deployment with a simple openstack stack create command.

Designate has had issues finding contributors to replace previous contributors who have moved on from the project mainly due to major restructuring in the organisations that sponsored development.

They need contributors to help find and fix bugs, develop new features, and help maintain the quality of the project. Designate is quite stable, with any new features requiring long term planning, design and phased implementation.

This makes Designate a good project for everyone, from a person starting out in the community, who wants to work on an interesting and important section of infrastructure, to very senior developers who want new, interesting problems to tackle. Contributors will get to work on a project that will be a central part of any OpenStack deployment, and work on a project that needs to scale from a small single node install to a system controlling DNS servers worldwide.

If you are interested, please join the IRC channel (#openstack-dns) or contact the Designate PTL (Graham Hayes - mugsie on IRC), the TC sponsor (Sean McGinnis - smcginnis), or email the openstack dev mailing list with the tag [designate].

4. Glance Contributors

Description

Glance is a service to manage disk images for OpenStack clouds. It was one of the first projects developed in the OpenStack ecosystem. Nearly every OpenStack deployment contains a Glance service. Without Glance, Nova cannot create servers.

Glance is looking for new contributors who would be willing to provide reviews, to work on bugs, or to work on new features. Glance has welcomed interns, junior developers, and more senior developers. In every case, it is a great way to grow and contribute to OpenStack.

Value

Maintenance Costs

Glance is a critical service in OpenStack. Contributions to the future of the image registry are essential to the stability of OpenStack. More importantly, Glance is not feature-complete. There is significant technical debt that needs to be taken care of and several features to implement.

Consistency

The OpenStack community continues to evolve, and this evolution requires large cross-project initiatives. Furthermore, users and operators expect consistency across the OpenStack platform. Examples from recent history include OpenStack-wide support for Python 3 and easing operator pain by moving policy configuration into code. Ensuring Glance stays up-to-date with these initiatives is imperative in reducing operational costs, complexity, and user frustration.

Contact

Interested? Join the Glance IRC channel (#openstack-glance) or reach out to the OpenStack discuss mailing list using the [glance] tag.

5. Goal Champions

Description

As OpenStack matures, large initiatives linger that affect the community as a whole. Like with any large body of work, someone needs to step up and coordinate the group, keep track of progress, call for and chair regular meetings, and publish status updates. PTLs do this work for project teams, leaders do it for various cross-project working groups and SIGs, and champions do it to help us complete OpenStack-wide Goals over a cycle. Additionally, efficient coordination is one of the most productive ways to get things done, especially in large communities.

The work of those champions is essential to the success of OpenStack, and yet it is often challenging to find volunteers for those positions. Contributing as a goal champion takes time (several hours per week), and that commitment needs to be properly recognized and celebrated.

Volunteers for this role will make a direct impact on the productivity of others, become respected leaders in OpenStack community, build influence among their peers, and make great candidates for future elected leadership positions in OpenStack.

Value

Opportunity for Influence

As a sponsor or partial sponsor of a community-wide initiative, you have the opportunity to influence the decision-making process. This influence is particularly true if you have existing workarounds or have attempted alternative solutions, both of which are essential perspectives to have in the goal selection process.

Early Adoption

By sponsoring a community goal champion, you have someone in-house to answer questions about the ongoing work and decision making process upstream. This can be an excellent resource in minimizing disruption to downstream products and services, especially tracking a large piece of work across services and projects.

Contact

If you are interested in helping with community goals, contact the Technical Committee sponsor for this item (dhellmann).

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