May 11 OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

The OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors met in-person in advance of the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta. This my informal recollection of the meeting. It’s not an official record, etc.

Unlike previous meetings held in advance of summits, this meeting only ran from 09:00 to 14.30 at which time we switched venue for the first ever joint board of directors and technical committee meeting.

I’m about to head off on vacation for a week, so I figured I’d do my best to briefly cover some of the topics covered during the meeting.

Jonathan’s Update

After the usual preliminaries, we began the meeting with Jonathan Bryce (in his role as Executive Director) giving the board an update from the Foundation’s perspective.

One of the more interesting slides in Jonathan’s updates is always the latest statistics showing community and ecosystem growth. We now have over 355 companies supporting the foundation, over two thousand total contributors and almost five hundred active contributors every month. Over 17,000 commits were merged during the Icehouse release cycle, an increase of 25% from Havana. This level growth is just phenomenal.

Jonathan also talked about the growth in visitors to the openstack.org website and made some interesting observations about the geographical spread of the visitors. The top 4 countries seen in the stats are the U.S., India, China and France. That France figures so highly in the stats is a good sign in advance of the summit in Paris in November.

Next, Jonathan moved on to talk about the week ahead in Atlanta. Once again, we’re seeing a huge increase in the level of interest in the event with over 4,500 attendees compared to the roughly 3,000 attendees in Hong Kong. Running an even of this size is a massive undertaking and Jonathan mentioned one crazy statistic – the foundation had over 23,000 pieces printed for the event and had to spread those orders over three printing companies in order to be able to do it.

A big emphasis for the week was an increased focus on users and operators. And, interestingly, there were roughly 800 developers and 700 operators signed up for the event. All were agreed that it’s a very healthy sign to see so many operators attend.

One comment from Jonathan triggered some debate – that the event was turning into a broader cloud industry event rather than strictly limited to just OpenStack. Some board members raised a concern that the event shouldn’t become completely generic and the focus should always be on OpenStack and its ecosystem. Jonathan clarified that this is the intent.

Jonathan also talked about the geographical diversity of attendees at the summit. People were coming from over 55 countries, but 81% attendees were from the U.S. In contrast, in Hong Kong, the percentage of US attendees were more like 40% and Jonathan felt that this showed the importance of regularly holding summits outside of the U.S.

Finances

Jonathan also walked the board through and update on the foundation’s financial position. Operating income was 3% above their predictions and expenses was down 7%. This has left the foundation with $7.8M in the bank, as part of Jonathan’s goal to build up a substantial war-chest to ensure the foundation’s stability even in the event of unforseeable events.

The summit in Atlanta was predicted to make a loss of $50k but was on track to make a profit. And yet, while it was predicted to be a $2.7M event, it was turning out to be a $4M event. The situation will be very different in Paris because of different cost structures and the event is expected to make a loss. While on the topic, some board members requested that the board be more closely involved in choosing the location of future summits. Jonathan was happy to facilitate that and expected to be able to give the board an update in July.

Jonathan next gave a detailed update on the foundation’s application for US federal tax exempt status. He explained that while we are Delaware incorporated, non-stock, non-profit foundation we have not yet been granted 501(c)(6) status by the IRS. After providing the IRS with additional information in November, the IRS returned an initial denial in March and the foundation filed a protest in April.

The objections from the IRS boil down to their feeling (a) that the foundation is producing software and, as such, is “carrying on a normal line of business”, (b) that the foundation isn’t improving conditions for the entire industry and (c) that the foundation is performing services for its members. Jonathan explained why the foundation feels those objections aren’t warranted and that the OpenStack foundation is fundamentally no different from other similar 501(c)(6) organizations like the Linux Foundation. He explained that other similar organizations were going through similar difficulties and he feels it is incumbent on the foundation to continue to challenge this in order to avoid a precedent being set for other organizations in the future. Overall, Jonathan seemed confident about our position while also feeling that the outcome is hard to predict with complete certainty. This conversation continued for some time and, because of the interest, the board moved to establish a committee to track the issue consisting of the existing members of the finance committee along with Eileen, Todd and Sean.

Trademark Framework

Jonathan moved on to give an update on some changes the foundation have made around the trademark programs in place for commercial uses of the mark. The six logos previously used were causing too much confusion so the foundation has merged these into “Powered By OpenStack” and “OpenStack Compatible” marks.

There followed some debate and clarifications were given, before some members expressed concern that the board had not been adequately consulted on the change. That objection seemed unwarranted to me given that Jonathan had briefed the board on the change in advance of implementing it.

Staying on topic of trademark programs, Boris took the floor and gave an update on the DriverLog work his team has been working on. He request the board use the output of DriverLog to enforce quality standards for the use of the OpenStack compatible mark in conjunction with Nova, Neutron and Cinder drivers. There was rather heated debate on the implications of this, particularly around whether drivers would be required to be open-source and/or merged in trunk.

Several board members objected to the fact that this proposal wasn’t on the agenda and the board hadn’t been provided with supporting materials in advance of the meeting. Boris committed to providing said material to the board before revisiting the issue.

Defcore

Next up, Rob and Josh gave an update on the progress of their DefCore initiative. Rather than attempt to repeat the background here, it’s probably best to read Rob’s own words.

Once the background was covered, the board spent some time considering the capabilities scoring matrix where each capability (concretely, capabilities are groups of Tempest tests) is scored against 12 selection criteria. This allows the capabilities to be ranked so that the board can make an objective judgment on which capabilities should be considered “must have”. There appeared to be generally good consensus around the approach, but a suggestion was made to consider more graduated scoring of the criteria (e.g. 1-5 rather than 0 or 1).

The conversation moved on to the subject of “designated sections”. During the conversation, the example of Swift was used and Josh felt the technical committee’s feedback indicated that either Swift in its entirety should be a designated section or that none of Swift would be considered binary. Josh also felt that the technical community (either the TC or PTLs) should be responsible for such decisions but I felt that while the TC can provide input, trademark policy decisions must ultimately be made by the board lest we taint the technical communities technical decision making by requiring significant political and business implications to be considered.

One element of clarity that emerged from the discussion was the simple point that “must have” tests were intended to drive interoperability while designated sections were intended to help build our community by requiring vendors to ship/deploy certain parts of the codebase and, by implication, contribute to those parts of the codebase.

As time ran short, the board voted to approve the selection criteria used by the DefCore committee. A straw-poll was also held to get a feel for whether board members saw the need for an “OpenStack compatible” mark in addition to the “OpenStack powered” mark. All but three of the board members (Monty, Todd and Josh) indicated their support for an additional “OpenStack compatible” mark.

Win The Enterprise

Briefly, Imad introduced the “Win the Enterprise” he an his team were kicking off with a session during the summit. The goal is to drive adoption of OpenStack in the enterprise by analyzing the technical and business gaps that may be hindering such adoption and coming up with an action plan to address them.

Feedback from board members was quite positive, with the discussion centered around how the group would measure their success and how they would ensure they operated in the most open and transparent way possible.

There was also some discussion about the need for more product management input to the project along with an additional focused effort on end-users of OpenStack clouds.

Wrapping Up

After the meeting drew to a close, board members joined members of the technical committee for a joint meeting. I’m hoping one of the awesome individuals on the technical committee will write a summary of that meeting!

This was a hugely draining week for many of us at Red Hat. As I prepare to completely switch off for a week, allow me to pass on this sage advise from Robyn Bergeron:

Keep Calm and Ride The Drama Llama

2 Responses to “May 11 OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting”

  1. Josh McKenty says:

    Great summary, as always. One correction – it was Todd Moore, not Troy Toman, who agreed with Monty and I on whether we should be *concurrently* providing a “compatible with” mark.

  2. […] “whether a given capability will be required in order to use the trademark,” writes Mark McLoughlin, a consulting engineer at Red Hat, in a blog post at the time. He is a member of OpenStack’s […]

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