Community Infrastructure Sysadmins

Description

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 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.

Value

Reusability

The infrastructure team leverages resources donated from companies operating OpenStack services. The community uses the software it produces as a tool for testing it. Every day, contributors submit thousands of patches for review. Infrastructure tools deploy each patch and test it against thousands of tests and scenarios. This volume provides an opportunity to improve the software we write by giving us first-hand experience with issues at scale. The benefit of fixing these issues for the OpenStack CI system is two-fold:

  1. It makes the test platform more stable and robust

  2. Products or services benefits from the fix being applied upstream

Don’t Repeat Yourself or Your Testing (DRY)

The culture built around extensive testing in OpenStack makes it easier for us to trust patches proposed for review. We’ve integrated this culture into our review process. Duplicating a social and technical CI system of this size takes incredible amounts of time, people, and patience. Bolstering the CI system we already have in place allows you to focus on testing that is specific to your product or service.

Immediate Feedback

The OpenStack CI system is the backbone of feedback for contributors and operators. Users get this feedback early, ideally before the patch lands. Ensuring early feedback through a robust CI system and testing means fewer surprises down the road when you attempt to integrate your product into a new release or deploy a new version of a service.

Contact

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! The Technical Committee sponsor for this initiative is Jeremy Stanley (fungi).