Technical Committee Vision for 2019 (Drafted April, 2017)

This document was written in June of 2017 as if it were created in March 2019, looking back at what the OpenStack Technical Committee has been involved with over the last few years. The aim is to describe an aspirational yet realistic end goal. It doesn’t intend to list out all the tasks needed to reach the end goal, nor does it intend to stop evolving the direction as the enviroment changes between now and 2019.

Note

This is the vision of the TC from April 2017. Future TCs may publish new visions for the future.

To help with setting the context of this vision, please review these documents:


The first OpenStack Summit of 2019 is a great time to review how the OpenStack community has evolved over the last few years. We’ve made progress on a new way to understand reference architectures, on using individual components of OpenStack on their own, on working with other communities in the cloud ecosystem, and on encouraging and mentoring contributions and leadership from an increasingly diverse community.

Working with Adjacent Communities

At the previous OpenStack summit, three users gave presentations about using single or minimal components of OpenStack, including using Keystone for authenticating services not related to OpenStack. Everyone was thrilled to see that the landscape of technology does not begin and end with OpenStack. The seed of this work was thinking differently about adjacent Communities. The OpenStack community in conjunction with other communities identified services that would be of value in new scenarios and ensured that they can be run independently. We have done the heavy lifting to make it easy to integrate Keystone into projects written in Go, Nodejs, or Java, so that new projects can begin with a multi-tenancy user/project story. This work also makes it seamless for users to combine services from OpenStack and other communities in their composite applications. Users love not having to hard code credentials from different services throughout their environment.

We have learned a lot from adjacent communities and have made some substantial changes to the way we do things. The TC is proactive in reaching out to communities with overlapping interests. This includes consumers of OpenStack as well as components which play a critical role in deployment of an OpenStack solution. We have also shared some of our hard learned lessons and success stories to help them on their journey. We now have a repeatable system for engaging with new communities that allows us to share some of our past insights and help where we can while still being respectful of how every community has their own culture and needs. We continuously ask the groups we have close partnerships with for feedback to ensure their satisfaction with the partnership. We focus on the quality of partnership, rather than quantity of groups we interact with, so the appropriate amount of resources can be focused on success. It is a regular occurrence that TC members are or have been contributors within these other communities.

The outreach includes both technical and non-technical aspects. Since the OpenStack ecosystem has mature systems and processes in place for dealing with governance, vulnerabilities, continuous integration infrastructure, leadership development, etc., the TC is able to share best practices with other newly forming communities to help them to bootstrap. On the technical side, the TC works closely with leadership teams of the other communities to find opportunities to remove duplicated effort. This collaboration has provided opportunities for contributors to move easily between OpenStack and other communities and develop synergies that benefit everyone. The TC works with the OpenStack Infrastructure, Quality Assurance, and similar teams from other communities to make sure there is a common understanding of how to deal with new language ecosystems, new projects that will need continuous integration, and works to expand available resources as well as ensure that there is no undue impact on limited resources.

Embracing Community Diversity

Reaching out to other communities has confirmed how critical diversity is to the future of OpenStack. There are so many good ideas, and so many people that are motivated to help. A diverse community drives a lot of empathy in our contributors. It is much easier to understand and empathize with the wide range of challenges and problems people are trying to solve with OpenStack when there are many different perspectives in our community. Diversity, on many axes, is now a key value in OpenStack itself, and we have seen our contributor base get measurably more diverse in each of the last three releases.

More than 50% of the contributors to the most recent OpenStack release identified strongly as an OpenStack user or operator. This has helped different patterns and a different culture of contribution to emerge; there is more focus on the near term needs of the operators in the field. It has also brought more sympathy to the needs of part time contributors who for whatever reason are unable to see a patch through to merging. A small organic team of shepherds have been taking these contributions and working them into the system, either by taking over the patches or by applying follow-up changes.

The TC itself has changed too. We now regularly have people from the operator community and user committee on the TC and also assisting with many of the TC initiated efforts. The TC now looks much more like our contributor base. The TC membership includes several women and representatives from APAC and European countries. These changes did not happen overnight, nor by accident. They are the result of heavy emphasis on mentoring in the community, with multiple different efforts underway. There is the new OpenStack Ladder program, inspired by the Drupal Ladder program, which aims to bring more users and operators into the contributor space and ensure that they don’t feel overwhelmed by our contribution processes.

Growing New Leaders

For members of the community that are already engaged, we have built into our ladder program a specific mentoring program around inter-project work. This is not only technical mentoring, but focuses on the skills needed to interface with multiple communities, and work to build consensus across sometimes large cultural boundaries. We have 10 mentors and over 50 participants in this program who are spending more than 40% of their OpenStack time focused on efforts spanning two or more projects. This inter-project work has not only given OpenStack a unified user and operator experience, but has made our community feel more whole as well.

It is now commonplace for popup teams to form around inter-project work, often led by members of the mentoring program. They engage with key members from different project teams within OpenStack, or projects in other communities, or both. Members of the user and operators communities are often a part of these popup teams. People find it exciting and energizing to dive into such crucial work early in their OpenStack engagement. Success breeds success, and as the velocity of this work has increased we have seen a renewed investment from member companies to keep accelerating this work.

Much of the work done by these inter-project teams has come from the improved feedback loop between users, operators and developers. Indeed this feedback, coupled with the increase in diversity of contributions, makes the interactions — as well as the contributions — between users, operators and developers seamless. One visible success story has been the TC curated Top 10 hit list. It has brought renewed focus on some of the hard problems we need to address in the near term. It is now commonplace that key features that were identified in the Top 10 hit list get completed in a single cycle. Not only does the list easily express some of the most important work that we need to get done as a community, but the process of creating it has made us all understand OpenStack that much more.

When community members started taking deep dives into projects to which they don’t normally contribute, there was a ton of enlightenment. Old prejudices took a backseat as we walked a mile in each other’s shoes. This new understanding is part of why hierarchical quotas are now implemented and working in many services, and are now getting tested in the field. We expect most of the OpenStack projects, as well as a number of non OpenStack projects in adjacent communities to have this supported over the next year.

Over the past year, the TC has proudly celebrated the good work done by those who stepped up to lead and work on crucial needs in the community. It has been particularly satisfying to see the breadth of talent now involved in the technical leadership of the OpenStack community. More companies are investing longer term contributors to the OpenStack project, because they can see a clearer path for value delivery to their products and services delivered using OpenStack. We now have between 50 and 100 contributors with significant commits to two or more Projects every release cycle. Importantly, we have retained 75% of those contributors over the last three releases. Moreover, 50% of these contributors are part time, yet still able to be actively involved in critical inter-project work. We regularly see those people that leave our community become leaders and mentors in other Open Source projects in the ecosystem. We have helped to improve not just OpenStack, but Open Source as a whole, and that is something we can all be proud of.