Archive for the ‘openstack-foundation-board-meeting’ Category

May 11 OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

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

Mar 4 OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

On March 4th, the OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors met for an all-day, in-person meeting at DLA Piper’s office in Palo Alto, California. This my informal recollection of the meeting. It’s not an official record, etc.

Some 20 of the 24 board members managed to make the meeting in person with Todd and Tristan joining over the phone. Yujie Du and Chris Kemp were unable to attend.

As usual our teleconferencing capabilities were woefully inadequate for those hoping to contribute remotely. However, this time Rob and Lew joined a Google Hangout with video cameras trained on the meeting. One would hope that made it a little easier to engage with the meeting, but we didn’t really have any feedback on that.

Before we got started properly, Alan took some time to recommend “Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out of Your Board of Directors” to the directors (based, in turn, on Mark Radcliffe’s recommendation) as a book which could provide some useful background on the responsibilities of directors and what it takes to make a successful board.

[Update: Josh points out we also approved the minutes of the previous meeting]

Executive Director Update

Our first meaty topic was one of Jonathan’s regular updates.

Jonathan talked about the continued tremendous growth in interest around the project will all the foundation staff’s key metrics (e.g. website, developers, twitter, youtube, etc.) at lease doubling in 2013. One interesting aspect of this growth is that the China, India and Japan regions all grew their share of website traffic and this lead to a discussion around whether having the last summit in Hong Kong directly contributed to this shift.

Our community is growing too. We now have over 15,000 individual members of the foundation, over 2,000 contributors to the project over its lifetime and over 400 unique contributors to the project each month.

The mention of 15,000 individual members lead to a somewhat lengthy discussion about the fact that individual membership may be terminated under the following clause of the bylaws:

failure to vote in at least 50% of the votes for Individual Members within the prior twenty-four months unless the person does not respond within thirty (30) days of notice of such termination that the person wishes to continue to be an Individual Member

Jonathan explained how shortly after the foundation was launched, over 6,000 people signed up as individual members. Only 1,500 or so of those initial members have since voted in elections, so we could potentially be looking at removing somewhere in the region of 6,000 members in 2014. This reduced membership will facilitate bylaws changes by making it easier (or even possible) to reach the quorum necessary under clause 9.2(a):

requires an affirmative vote of a majority of the Individual Members voting as provided in Article III, but only if at least 25% of the Individual Members vote

Some discussion points around this included whether a future bylaws change should reduce the quorum requirement to something like 10%, that terminated members can re-register but would then have to wait 180 days in order to be eligible for voting and that project contributors need to be foundation members but some contributors may not be in the habit of voting and may have their membership terminated.

Jonathan moved on with his slide deck and briefly mentioned some of the foundation’s new supports like Oracle and Parallels. He also talked about OpenStack is increasingly fulfilling its role as a platform and is being put to work for many diverse use cases. He also included a slide with many positive media and analyst quotes about the project like “Industry support has coalesced around OpenStack”.

Jonathan then moved on to the foundation’s budget, describing it as an $8M budget which turned out to be $11M. Income was up, but expenses were kept in line such that $2.5M could be put in the bank. He expressed particular pride that 18 months ago the foundation was just starting with no money and already had built up a significant buffer which would allow us all to feel confident about the foundation’s future, even in more turbulent or unpredictable times.

Finally, Jonathan review the foundation staff’s priorities for 2014:

  1. Improve the software – whether that be continued investment by the foundation in the software development process or organizing activities which bring user feedback into the project
  2. Improve interoperability between OpenStack-powered products and services
  3. Grow the service provider global footprint, with a specific mention for interest from telco operators at Mobile World Congress around OpenStack and NFV

DefCore Update

Next up, Rob and Josh provided an update on the progress of the DefCore committee, requesting a checkpoint from the board as to whether there was consensus that the current approach should continue to be pursued.

Rob started by reviewing the purpose of DefCore and the approach taken to date. He explained that the committee is mandated to look at ways of governing commercial use of the OpenStack trademark and that some issues are deliberately being punted on for now, e.g. an API interoperability trademark and changes to the bylaws.

Josh took over and reviewed the currently agreed-upon criteria that will be used when evaluating whether a given capability will be required in order to use the trademark, e.g.

  1. Stable – required to be stable for >2 releases
  2. Complete – should be parity in capability tested across extension implementations
  3. Discoverable – e.g. can be found in Keystone and via service introspection
  4. Widely Deployed – favor capabilities that are supported by multiple public cloud providers and private cloud products
  5. Tools – supported by common tools
  6. Clients – part of common libraries
  7. Foundation – required by other must-have capabilities
  8. TC Future Direction – reflects future technical direction
  9. Documented – expected behaviour well documented
  10. Legacy – previously considered must-have
  11. Cluster – tests are available for this capability?
  12. Atomic – unique capability that cannot be built out of other must-have capabilities
  13. Non-Admin – capability does not require administrative rights

Next, Rob, Josh and Troy walked the board through a draft spreadsheet evaluating potential capabilities against those criteria.

Much of the subsequent discussion revolved around various board members being very eager to get wider feedback on the ramifications of this process, particularly around identifying the most thorny and controversial results. Concerns were expressed that the process has been so involved and detailed that few people are well appraised of where this is headed and may find some of the results very surprising.

Rob & Josh felt that this spreadsheet approach means that we can solicit much more targeted and useful feedback from stakeholders. For example, if a project feels one of its capabilities should be must-have, or a cloud provider is surprised that a capability it doesn’t yet provide is seen to be must-have, then the discussion can be around that specific capability, whether the set of criteria and weighting used for evaluation are appropriate, and whether the capability has been correctly evaluated against those criteria.

Finally, Rob & Josh explained the proposed approach for collecting the test results which would be used for evaluating trademark use applications. The idea (known as TCUP, or “tea-cup”, for “test collect, upload and publish”) currently being developed in the refstack repo on stackforge would allow people to download a docker container image, add your cloud credentials and endpoint URL, run the container which would then execute the tests against the endpoint and upload the results.

[Update: Josh points out that data uploaded via TCUP will "be treated as confidential for the time being"]

Driver Testing

Next, Boris Renski took the floor to talk about Nova, Neutron and Cinder driver testing particularly with a view to how it might relate to trademark usage. This relates to his blog post on the topic some weeks ago.

There were two main observations about changes happening in the technical community – (1) that projects were demanding that vendor maintainers provide reliable third-party automated testing feedback in gerrit patch reviews and (2) that manually maintained, often out-of-date, “driver compatibility matrices” in the OpenStack wiki may soon be replaced by dashboards showing the results of these third-party automated testing systems.

Boris wished to leave that technical work aside (since it is not the board’s domain) and focus the discussion on whether the board would consider a new trademark program such that vendors who’s drivers pass this automated testing would be allowed the use of a trademark such as “Built for OpenStack”.

The debate quickly got heated and went off in several different directions.

Part of the discussion revolved around the automated testing requirements projects were placing on projects, how that worked in practice, the ramifications of that, how deprecating drivers would work, whether a driver being in-tree implied a certain level of quality, etc. I felt the board was really off in the weeds on a topic that is under the authority of the individual projects and the TC. For example, it was easy to forget during the discussion that PTLs ultimately had the discretion to waive testing requirements for individual drivers.

Another surprising element to this was parallels being drawn with the overlap between the OpenStack Activity Board and Stackalytics. Some board members felt that Mirantis’s work on Stackalytics had deliberately duplicated and undermined the Activity Board effort, and that the same thing was happening here because this driver testing dashboard naturally (according to those board members) belongs under the DefCore/Refstack efforts. Boris acknowledged he “had his wrist slapped over Stackalytics” and was attempting to do the right thing here by getting advance buy-in. Others felt that the two efforts were either unrelated or that competing efforts can ultimately lead to a better end result.

Another thread of the discussion was that Boris’s use of, or allusion to, the special term “certification” automatically strayed this topic into the area of the OpenStack brand and that it was inappropriate to speculate that the foundation would embark on such a program before the board had discussed it.

In the end, the board directed that Jonathan should work with Boris and Rob on a plan to collect any automated test results out there and, secondly, work with the DefCore legal subcommittee to explore the possible use of the trademark in this context.

Operator’s Feedback

Tim Bell took the floor next to talk the board through feedback from OpenStack operators collected at the OpenStack Operators Mini Summit the previous day.

The etherpad linked above perhaps provides a better summary than I can give, but some of the highlights include:

  • The notion that operators should be able to provide feedback on blueprints as they are drafted, to help get operational insights to developers early on in the development process
  • Some observations on the stability (or lack thereof) of some of the core OpenStack components
  • The importance of a solid upgrades story was re-iterated
  • Some great feedback on TripleO
  • The split between teams doing CI/CD and those consuming releases
  • How to encourage operators to file more bugs upstream
  • Lots, lots more

This feedback was well received by the board and triggered a bunch of discussions and questions.

As a final point, Josh raised some concerns about how the invitee list was drawn up and how he felt it would have been appropriate for vendors (like Piston) to recommend some of their customers to be invited. Tim felt this was an unfair criticism and that the user committee had worked hard to seed the limited seating event with a diverse set of invitees before opening it up to the public.

Emerging Use Cases – NFV

Finally, with limited time remaining, Toby Ford from AT&T briefed the board on Network Function Virtualization (NFV) as an emerging use case for OpenStack which is heavily tied to SDN (Software Defined Network). He described how AT&T have set themselves a mission to:

Simplify, open up, and scale our Network to be more agile, elastic, secure, cost effective and fast by (a) moving from hardware centric to software centric, (b) separating the control plane and data plane and (c) making the network more programmable and open

Toby did a great job of walking through this complex area, leaving me with the understanding that there is a massive shift in the networking industry from hardware appliances to scale-out software appliances running on virtualized commodity hardware.

There appears to be consensus in the networking industry that OpenStack will be the management and orchestration platform for this new world order, but that there is a serious need for telcos and networking vendors to engage more closely with OpenStack in order to make this happen.

Wrap Up and Evening Event

Alan then wrapped up the meeting a little early after talking through the schedule for our next meetings with a conf call on April 3 and an in-person meeting on May 11.

The board then moved on to a local restaurant for dinner. Before and after dinner, I had some great conversations with Tim, Monty, Van and Troy. Funnily enough, because of the layout of the tables and the noise in the restaurant, it was only really possible to talk to the person sitting directly opposite you and so I found myself having an exclusive 2 hour dinner date with Boris! At one point, after Boris knocked a glass of wine over me, I joked that I should tweet “Red Hat and Mirantis tensions finally bubble over to physical violence”. But, in all honesty, these in-person, informal conversations around the board meetings are often far more effective at enabling shared understanding and real collaboration than the 20+ person meetings themselves. Such is the nature of the beast, I guess.

Jan 30 OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

Friday, February 7th, 2014

The OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors met for a two hour conference call last week. This was the first meeting of the board since the recent Individual and Gold member director elections.

As usual, this my informal recollection of the meeting. It’s not an official record, etc.

Your trusty reporter had just arrived in Brussels for FOSDEM and got to stay in his hotel room for this meeting rather than sampling Belgian’s fine beers. Oh, the sacrifices we make! :-P

Preliminaries

As usual, calling the meeting to order was a challenge and it was at least 15 minutes after the scheduled start before we completed the roll call.

Next, Alan welcomed our new directors:

  • Yujie Du
  • Alex Freedland
  • Vish Ishaya
  • Imad Sousou

and thanked our outgoing directors:

  • Nick Barcet
  • Hui Cheng
  • Joseph George
  • Lauren Sell

as well as thanking those directors who served on the board for part of 2013:

  • Devin Carlen
  • Jim Curry
  • John Igoe
  • Kyle MacDonald
  • Jon Mittelhauser

Policies, Communication Channels and Meetings Schedule

Since it’s a new year, we took the opportunity to review the various policies which apply to board members.

Josh went over our transparency policy mentioning that the board endeavours to be as transparent as possible, with board meetings open to the public, a summary of meetings posted to the foundation list and directors encouraged to use the foundation mailing list for discussions. Sub-committees of the board are expected to be similarly transparent, with wiki pages and public mailing lists. Some caveats to this policy are that board members are not allowed to make public comments about the board meeting until after Jonathan has posted his summary (or 72 hours have passed), members should not discuss executive sessions and the distribution of some non-public documents may have to be limited to directors.

Alan also mentioned our Code of Conduct and encouraged directors to read it carefully. Finally, Jeff from DLA Piper walked us through our antitrust policy where he emphasised the importance of avoiding even the perception that board members are coming together to advance the interests of some companies over others. Members should restrict themselves to pro-competitive collaboration.

Next, we quickly reviewed the various channels for communication that directors need to be aware of – webex for conf calls, the foundation and foundation-board mailing lists, the #openstack-board and #openstack-foundation IRC channels, informal etherpads that we use during board meetings and the various committee mailing lists.

Finally, we discussed the upcoming board meetings – an all-day face-to-face meeting in Palo Alto on March 4, a 2 hour conference call on April 3, an all-day face-to-face meeting in Atlanta on May 11 in advance of the Atlanta summit and another face-to-face on July 21 at OSCON.

The subject of the timing of the Atlanta face-to-face was raised again. May 11 is also Mother’s Day (in the US and some other countries) which is a nasty conflict for many board members. However, a poll amongst board members had already established that no better time around the summit could be found, so we are proceeding with the meeting on May 11. The question was raised about whether future board meetings should be scheduled to not align with our summits, but the objection to this idea was that it puts too much of a time and budget strain on those members who have to travel a long distance for the meetings.

Status Reports From Committees

Finally, time to move on to some more meaty topics! A member of each committee of the board was asked to provide a status update and plans for the year ahead.

Alan first described the work of the compensation committee who are responsible for defining and evaluating the goals and performance of the Executive Director. In summary, the committee concluded that Jonathan met his 2013 goals and new goals have been set for 2014.

Next up, Sean Roberts talked about the finance committee. This committee works with the foundation staff on financial budgeting and accounting. Sean described the foundation’s IRS filing and that the foundation’s 2012 financial audit has been completed and deemed clean (with a note that the foundation is “operating on a cash basis”). The foundation’s application for 501(c)(6) is progressing with the IRS asking for some clarifications which were returned to them in December. The committee meets monthly to review any discrepancies above 10%, but there have been no such issues so far. Essentially, everything is in excellent shape.

Tim Bell talked through the latest from the user committee. Tim mentioned the user survey that was published at the Hong Kong summit and how the committee has asked the TC for input on the kind of feedback that would be useful for developers. The committee is preparing to run another survey in advance of the Atlanta summit. Tim also mentioned that the user committee is running a couple of small, focused “operator mini-summits” over the next few months to bring operators together to share their feedback. Tim described the challenge running the committee with a small number of core volunteer members so as to ensure the privacy of survey results while also encouraging volunteers to help with tasks like turning survey feedback into blueprints for new features.

Van Lindberg gave an update on the legal affairs committee. He emphasised that the committee is not counsel for the foundation or the board, but rather a group which makes recommendations to the board on IP policy. He recapped on some of the patent policy recommendations from last year, for example that the foundation should join OIN. There was a brief mention of the fact that all the committee members are currently lawyers and the by-laws limits the number of members to five. He also mentioned that the DefCore committee has a related sub-committee examining possible by-laws changes.

Todd described the elections committee, that is was formed in February 2013 with 8 members and the goal to consider possible changes to the individual member election process. The committee is currently considering proposing a change to either Condorcet or STV and held a town-hall meeting in Hong Kong on the subject. Todd noted that the meeting was lightly attended and there generally has been rather low participation in the process. The main hurdle to getting such a change passed is that a majority of at least 25% of our individual members would need to vote for the by-laws change and the turnout for the previous election was only 17%. However, in July we will be able to begin making inactive members ineligible for voting and this should help us achieve the required turnout.

Rob gave an update from the DefCore committee[5] which is considering changes to the requirements for commercial implementations of OpenStack who wish to use the OpenStack trademark. The committee is currently working to identify a set of must-pass tests and the functional capabilities which these correspond to. Rob mentioned that some projects currently have no or minimal test coverage and, as a result, their capabilities could not be considered for inclusion in the requirements. Rob also mentioned a “programs vs projects” issue which had been identified during the committee discussions and that a meeting with the TC would be required to resolve the issue. I proposed that Rob and Josh could join the TC’s IRC meeting to discuss the issue.

Finally, Simon gave a brief overview of the work of the gold member application committee. This committee helps prospective gold members prepare their application such that it fully anticipates all the questions and concerns the board may have about the application.

Wrapping Up

While there were some small number of other items on the agenda, we had run out of time at this point. In the short time available, we had covered a broad range of topics but hadn’t really covered new ground. This meeting was mostly about rebooting the board for 2014.

Oct 3rd OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

On Oct 3rd, the OpenStack Foundation Board held a two hour conference call meeting which was open to anyone to join. The agenda was published in advance.

As usual, this my informal recollection of the meeting. It’s not an official record, etc. Jonathan published an official summary on the foundation mailing list.

Preliminaries

Our chairman, Alan Clark began the meeting by holding a roll call. If my count was correct, we had 21 of the 24 members of the board on the call, which is a pretty good turnout.

Alan introduced Chris Kemp as a replacement for Devin Carlen who had been representing Nebula and the Gold Members. Chris briefly explained that changes in his role at Nebula has left him more time for “strategic stuff” and is delighted to spend more time with the OpenStack community and join the board. He thanked everyone for their work in progressing the foundation to date.

Before getting down to business, we quickly voted to approve the minutes of the previous meeting.

Executive Director Report

Jonathan Bryce took the floor and gave a really excellent update on the Foundation’s progress.

First off, he described the launch of the OpenStack Foundation Training Marketplace at LinuxCon in New Orleans. The site now has 12 companies listing training events at over 30 cities around the world and has seen over 10,000 unique visitors over the past 2 weeks. He reiterated how one of the Foundation’s stated priorities for this year is to help training providers get the word out on their education programs and thereby expand the pool of people with OpenStack skills.

Next up, Jonathan gave an update on preparations for the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong. Everything is coming together nicely and the finalized speaking agenda has now been posted. He explained that, while they had received some 250 submissions for the summit in Portland, there were over 600 submissions for Hong Kong and yet not many extra speaking slots. The track chairs had a tough job whittling down the submissions but he thinks the end result is an agenda packed with great sessions. Jonathan warned that, unlike previous summits, we have a hard limit on the number of attendees and the “full access” passes will sell out in the next week or so.

Eileen asked exactly how many full access passes were issued and Jonathan explained there are 2,000 but that there are many more passes for the general sessions and expo hall. Joseph asked for some insight into the demographics of the registered attendees and how it compares to previous summits. Jonathan felt that we would see a large number of attendees from the region and that, while some companies may have reduced their numbers travelling from further afield, there would still be plenty of representation from all of the companies we are used to seeing at summits.

The discussion then moved on to looking ahead to 2014 and a sneak peak of next year’s budget. Jonathan explained how 2013 was a great year financially – particularly because the summits were larger than expected – and the Foundation goes into 2014 with a healthy budget surplus of over $1M. We expect to continue to see large summits and this will lead to increased revenues and expenses. Jonathan expects the Foundation to continue to invest in technology and infrastructure over 2014. He described the Foundation funded projects in 2013 to improve the member database and tie it to the contributor agree process and an improved system for handling summit speaker submissions.

Rob Hirschfeld asked whether the Foundation had budgeted for certification testing infrastructure being proposed as part of the “what is core” discussion. Josh felt this it not be necessary for the Foundation to fund this, and there was a brief data tracking and authentication systems.

Jonathan continued by describing the rapid growth in Foundation staff during 2013, but that he expects ongoing staffing costs to have mostly levelled off for 2014. He went on to talk about how he sees the role of the Foundation over the next year to be around connecting different parts of the community, helping to gather data on users and deployments and sharing information with the world about new features in each release.

One Jonathan had finished, Lew Tucker congratulated Jonathan on the progress and asked whether a written summary could be prepared for board members so that we could help get the word out. Josh pointed out that we were soon due an annual report which would contain much of this information.

Josh then asked a question about the project budget for gold member fees and how many new members this assumed would be added in 2014. There was some confusion on the issue because gold member fees are based on the member’s revenue, but the conclusion was that the addition of 4 new members was projected. This would bring the total number of gold members up to 20 out of a total possible 24 members.

Election Committee Report

Next up, Todd Moore delivered an excellent summary of the discussions and conclusions of the committee established to consider whether any changes were need for the individual and gold member director election systems and what those changes might be.

Todd’s report – which will be published in full soon – described how we considered three separate questions. Firstly, whether and how concerns about the fairness of the individual member director election system (particularly the issue of large blocks of affiliated voters) should be addressed, secondly whether we should consider any rule changes around foundation employees eligibility for the individual member director election and, finally, whether the eligibility rules for the 2013 gold member director elections had been properly enforced.

The last topic was easily dispensed with – Todd and the committee worked with the foundation staff to verify that all eligibility rules (i.e. eligibility as a candidate and eligibility to vote) had been properly enforced.

The first topic proved to be substantially more contentious. The pros and cons of changing to an STV based election system or tweaking the rules of the current system to halve (from 8 to 4) the number of votes which you could allocate to a single candidate were explained in great detail. Todd explained how the committee felt that changes were not necessarily warranted but that it would be wise to seriously consider the option of the “max 4 votes per candidate” tweak.

A motion was proposed to not fundamentally change the voting system and was almost voted for until it became apparent that Monty wanted to speak but was unable to come off mute. Once that was sorted out, Monty stated that the cumulative system was utterly broken and that block voting did, in fact, influence the outcome of the election. He felt strongly that a change to STV was needed. The debate then took off in earnest with many well put points made by various members. I explained how I agreed fully with Monty but that I was convinced by the “it’s working reasonably well; this doesn’t warrant a the disruption of a bylaws change” but that we needed to be alert to any renewed concern from members after the next election. In the end the vote was passed with no abstentions and Monty voting against.

The discussion then moved on to the question of the “only 4 votes per candidate” tweak. Much of the discussion hinged on whether this tweak required a bylaws change. The election committee and Jonathan felt that it was compatible with the “cumulative voting system” language in in section 3.9a of the bylaws but legal counsel for the foundation (Mark Radcliffe) disagreed strongly and felt “cumulative voting” was “binary in the eyes of the law”. Since the committee had suggested this tweak on the understanding that it was easy to implement, the idea was dropped.

Next, we discussed the second issue – the question of foundation employees on the board. The committee did not have a consensus recommendation on this but Todd did summarize the different viewpoints and arguments. One approach proposed that the executive director would be granted a new, automatic seat on the board and (because there is a limit of two members per organization), only one additional foundation employee could be elected to the board rather than the current limit of two employees. There was lots of debate and I felt Jonathan’s input was particularly interesting – that he did not see the need for an automatic executive director seat and he had reservations about restricting employees from being directors since they could bring invaluable and passionate input, should the electorate choose to elect them. In the end, it was felt there was not sufficient cause to warrant a disruptive bylaws change and the motion was withdrawn.

So, in summary, there will be no election system changes proposed to the electorate during this cycle. However, the board again re-stated the importance that all members adhere to the community code of conduct which states:

Respect the election process. Members should not attempt to manipulate election results. Open debate is welcome, but vote trading, ballot stuffing and other forms of abuse are not acceptable.

Finally, the committee took an action item from the board to analyze the results of the next election and provide the board with a report on the potential effect of any of the options proposed.

Wrapping Up

Because of the lengthy debate on the election system, we had run out of time and the rest of the agenda had to be postponed until the in person board meeting in Hong Kong.

Edits

  • Changed from “legal counsel for the board” to “legal counsel for the foundation”. Thanks to Richard Fontana for the correction.
  • Included a reference to the code of comment. Thanks to Rob Esker for his question.

Aug 6th OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

On Aug 6th, the OpenStack Foundation Board held a two hour conference call meeting which was open to anyone to join. The agenda was published in advance.

As usual, this my informal recollection of the meeting. It’s not an official record, etc. Jonathan published an official summary on the foundation mailing list.

Preliminaries

Alan Clark chaired the meeting and spent the first few minutes reviewing the agenda and holding the roll call. We had more than 50% of the board members, and so had sufficient quorum.

We then reviewed the minutes of the previous meeting and approved them by vote. Todd, Troy, Nick, Devin and Jim all abstained because they weren’t present at that meeting.

Patent Cooperation

Next up was a follow-on from the patent cooperation discussion at our previous meeting.

The Legal Affairs Committee had previously proposed three options that we make no change, that we implement a Google-style patent pledge or that we introduce an OIN-style cross licensing agreement.

Keith Bergelt, CEO of the Open Invention Network, attended the meeting and gave a presentation describing the OIN and how it could play a key role in OpenStack’s strategy to create an environment of patent non-aggression around OpenStack. Keith has been actively working with the Legal Affairs Committee to develop a fourth proposal for the board which would make the best possible use of the OIN.

Keith described how the OIN was formed 8 years ago by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony to ensure “freedom of action, freedom to operate” around Linux. It has some 560 member companies who sign up to a broad cross-licensing agreement whereby any patents they hold which read on Linux is licensed to all other member companies.

The patents which are covered by the OIN agreement are those which read on the software packages listed in the OIN’s Linux System Definition. Over time, this definition has grown to include the likes of Android, WebOS and, more recently, OpenStack. The OIN views OpenStack has one of the most import projects after Linux and feels that including OpenStack in its defintiion is an obvious step.

That OpenStack is included in the OIN system definition means that there are already 560 licensees committed to non-aggression around OpenStack. Keith feels that this goes a long way to achieving the OpenStack Foundation’s goals in this area and that we should seek to make the most effective use of the existence of this agreement rather than reinvent the wheel.

Keith proposes a more formalized relationship with the Foundation, that members would be encouraged to join the OIN, that we’d do joint press releases and that there would be an ongoing direct relationship with the TC to ensure the system definition is regularly updated to include all OpenStack projects.

Legal Affairs Committee

Van Lindberg was up next to provde an update from the Legal Affairs Committee but this turned out to be a continuation of the previous discussion on patent cooperation.

Van summed up this fourth proposal succinctly – that OpenStack members get behind the OIN. He went on to describe how a difficulty with this approach is that some members of OpenStack will never be members of the OIN because the OIN fundamentally see those companies as a threat to Linux. He didn’t name these companies.

So, the question becomes how we can ensure the ability of those OpenStack members who aren’t members of the OIN to join a patent cooperation initiative specifically around OpenStack.

Van first described how OpenStack LLC (the Rackspace owned entity which held OpenStack’s before the Foundation was formed) actually joined the OIN some time ago because of concerns about the “CPTN transaction”. The OpenStack Foundation could quite easily take over this agreement and, by virtue of the fact that the OpenStack Foundation is in some sense the entity licensing the OpenStack software to everyone, the benefits of the OIN cross-license would flow to all OpenStack users.

For OIN non-members, the Foundation could create a separate, limited license agreement whereby the OpenStack related patents held by such licensors would be licensed to the Foundation and the benefits of that agreement would also flow to all OpenStack users.

Van went on to talk a little about patent trolls (a subject close to his heart), how this is a serious issue for OpenStack and how, even now, there is a troll going after Rackspace and HP over a number issues including some related to OpenStack. Van feels that the OIN does not actually protect against the threat of trolls very well, because (somewhat obviously) such trolls would not be members of the OIN.

Van raised again (this has been discussed before) the idea of a patent indemnity program whereby OpenStack members (or even just the Foundation) would contribute to a fund which could be used for the legal defence (not any settlements themselves) of any OpenStack members threatened by patent trolls for the use of OpenStack. Van feels that patent trolls often go after some weaker companies, obtain a small settlement because that company feels it’s cheaper to settle than to defend and that settlement sets a problematic precedent that the troll can then build upon. An indemnity program would encourage members to fight patent trolls and avoid precedents being established which would set the entire community up for trouble.

Eileen made the point that the OIN was created because the GPL lacks a patent license. We’re not in the same position, since OpenStack is licensed under the Apache License which includes a broad patent license. She raised concerns about the idea of an indemnity program, how it’s scope could turn out to be very large and expensive and disagreed that trolls always go after the smaller players.

The conclusion was … no decisions today, more dialogue needed.

OpenStack Training

Next up, Jonathan revisited the topic of how the Foundation can encourage and regularize the market forming around OpenStack training.

This topic was also covered in the June meeting and Jonathan felt there was good support for some of the proposals but board members had concerns and questions about other aspects. Since then, Jonathan has been talking to several board members including Brian Stevens and Boris Renski and feels he can provide some clarifications and updates. The Foundation would like to move forward with two proposals – a training licensing program and a baseline certification test.

The training licensing program would replace the use by training providers of the Built For OpenStack mark. This will allow the Foundation to have a closer relationship with training providers and help raise awareness about the availability of OpenStack training. There is broad support for this proposal
and the Foundation have a draft agreement ready to circulate to training providers.

The baseline certification test proposal was the proposal that has required more discussion but it is better understood now. The idea is that the Foundation would define a common baseline set of training which all licensed OpenStack providers must include and certify against, but that the Foundation also fully expects providers to expand upon this content greatly and compete on the unique aspects of their training.

The vast majority of what would be included in this baseline training is already covered by all training courses out there. The Foundation would not seek to force content and topics on training providers but would instead seek to add new content when it sees that training providers are already covering these new topics. It is expected that the Foundation staff and others it engages will take 6-9 months to prepare this program.

Jonathan feels a baseline OpenStack certification would ensure that there is OpenStack training which globally available, not cost-prohibitive for students in regions all around the world and provides a target for people who want to become knowledge around OpenStack.

The board moved to support the Foundation staff in its efforts to create a baseline certification testing program for OpenStack. The motion was passed unanimously.

User Committee Update

Tim Bell took the floor next to raise an issue the User Committee has been discussing in recent times.

The committee currently consists of Tim, Ryan Lane and JC Martin. While the committee is doing a great job, they feel that their limited numbers (and their limited time) is constraining their ability to achieve some of their goals.

The obvious solution is to add more members to the committee, but there’s a catch. Committee members sign an NDA and have access to some sensitive data about OpenStack deployments which are obtained through surveys with the understanding that the information is confidential. Adding significantly more members could compromise the confidence that survey responders would have in the confidentiality of their responses.

Tim has been talking with Tom Fifield about what role Tom could take (as a Foundation staff member) on the committee in order to help out, without Tom having to sign the NDA and gain access to the confidential survey results. The idea is that Tom can take on some of the responsibility to act as a go-between who ensures that issues which are identified by the committee are raised as appropriate with the developer community.

In a similar vein, the committee is exploring the idea of a structure whereby only the “core” committee members need to sign the NDA and there would be sub-groups of the committee who can get involved without gaining direct access to the survey results.

What is Core

Rob Hirschfeld gave a quick update on the “what is core” discussions he is
leading. The discussion was initially limited to the board, more recently
broadened to include the TC and Rob now plans to broaden it to include the
wider community.

Rob mentioned a flowchart he has prepared to describe some of the proposed process. He also discussed how the initial position on requiring “plugins” has evolved into talk of designating some parts of projects as “required implementations” and allowing other parts to have “alternate implementations”.

Other Updates

Todd and Rob met with the Foundation’s legal team to discuss what changes to the Individual Directors election process would be allowed under Delaware law. He will present some thoughts on this at the next board meeting.

Simon has been working with Mark Collier and Heidi Bretz to ensure that companies who have expressed an interest in applying to be a Gold Member are aware of the board’s revised expectations around new members. Simon and the membership committee still plan on re-drafting the wiki page describing the criteria for new members.

Alan mentioned that the Compensation Committee completed a mid-year review of Jonathan’s goals for the year and concluded things are very much on track. Full details were posted to the foundation-board mailing list.

The next board meeting is scheduled for October 3rd at 9am PST. There will also be an all day board meeting in Hong Kong on November 4th.

June 27th OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

On June 27, the OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors met for two hours via conference call. As usual, the agenda was published in advance and the meeting was open to anyone who wanted to observe the proceedings.

These notes are my perspective of the meeting. Jonathan Bryce published an official summary and official minutes will be posted in due course.

Roll Call and Meeting Confidentiality Policy

As you can imagine, a conference call with 20-30 attendees takes a while to get going. We began with a roll call and, after perhaps 15 minutes, were ready to get started.

First item on the agenda was a review of our meeting confidentiality policy. Directors agree to refrain from commenting on the meeting proceedings until Jonathan posts his summary. The only official record of the meeting is Jonathan’s summary and the official minutes. Anything discussed during executive session is confidential. Nothing new here.

Amendment to our Certificate of Incorporation

Next up was a motion to approve a relatively minor amendment to the foundation’s certificate of incorporation.

The details of the amendment is fairly obscure, but essentially the Foundation is applying for U.S. 501(c) status which means it will be a tax-exempt, non-profit organization. There are various different organization types, but the
two most relevant are 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6). OpenStack is filing for 501(c)(6) status.

Jonathan explained that, while preparing for this filing, it was noted that the original certificate of incorporation only allows (on winding up of the foundation) the foundation’s assets to be transferred to a 501(c)(3) organization. This amendment simply allows for the possibility of transferring assets to 501(c)(6) organizations.

There was some brief discussion clarifying exactly which status we were filing for and the motion was passed unanimously.

Transparency Policy

Next up, Lauren Sell explained the context for a formal transparency policy document which had been circulated to the board members and would require further discussion before being approved.

Lauren reminded us that at our meeting in April, the Transparency Working Group presented the principles for a transparency policy. Lauren had since worked with legal counsel to draft a more formal policy based on those original principles.

The main question Lauren felt needed to be cleared up was the issue of document management. The board has (and will continue to have) documents which must remain confidential. At our April meeting we had agreed that the OpenStack Infrastructure team would investigate hosting an OwnCloud instance which would act as our document store. While this was still on the team’s to-do list, it had not been prioritized over other work.

I suggested that, in the team time, we create a new mailing list for the the board (e.g. foundation-directors?) which would be open to everyone for read-only subscription and we would use the current mailing list to share confidential documents. Once the document management system is in place, we could then shut down the private foundation-board mailing list.

Rather than discuss in any great detail, it was agreed the Lauren would start a discussion on the foundation mailing list.

Summits & Marketing

Next up, Mark Collier and Lauren gave us an update on the Marketing front and how summit planning is progressing.

Lauren first talked through some excellent slides with a tonne of details about the Icehouse Design Summit in Hong Kong from Nov 5-8, 2013. This is the first time that the summit will be held at an “international venue” (an amusing term if you’re not U.S. based :) and we again expect record attendance.

Included in Lauren’s slides were some really helpful maps and aerial shots showing the venue, the geography of Hong Kong and the location of the recommended hotels. The venue is located near the airport which is a 25 minute train journey from down town Hong Kong. There are a couple of hotels adjacent to the venue and most of the other recommended hotels are down town. The foundation staff have worked hard to come up with a good range of hotel options, including hotels with a rate of under $150 per night.

In terms of travel advice, it was noted that visitors must have a passport valid for at least one month after their planned stay and that flights from SFO to HKG are currently averaging between $1000 and $1400. Jonathan recommends that people book their flights early, because fares will increase very significantly closer to the event. Lauren also pointed out that it’s sensible to make hotel books now, since the hotels closest to the venue are already selling out.

Lauren then talked through the planned format for the summit, which has been heavily influenced by feedback received through the survey results from the previous summit.

This time around there will be two types of passes. A more affordable limited access pass will give access to the expo hall, general sessions and a single track of breakout sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. The hope is that this will help control the numbers at the breakout sessions, but also make the event more accessible to folks who just want to come along for the first time and learn about OpenStack.

The primary language of the event will be English, but there will be simultaneous translation into Mandarin in the main hall.

The call for sponsors is already open and we have 21 sponsors to date. The headline sponsorship sold out in an astonishing 7 minutes.

For the first time, there will be a travel support program designed to ensure that lack funding won’t prevent key technical contributors from attending the event. Details of this will be announced very soon. We had a brief discussion about how this program should be run and it was pointed out that we could learn from similar programs for PyCon and UDS.

In terms of learnings from the previous summit, some of the things the team will be working hard to improve is the quality of network connectivity, the size breakout rooms and the variety of beverages and snacks.

It was noted that feedback from ATCs who completed the survey was 2.5:1 in favour of keeping the design summit collocated with the conference. In Hong Kong, the design summit rooms will be well separate from the breakout session rooms, ATC status will be properly indicated on name badges and it will be much more clear on the schedule which sessions are part of the design summit and which are breakout sessions.

After some interesting discussion about the plans for Hong Kong, Lauren gave a brief overview of how plans are proceeding for the 2014 summits. The spring summit is planned for the week of May 14 with Atlanta and Chicago under consideration. The autumn/fall summit will be one of the first two weeks of November with Paris and Berlin currently under consideration. Decisions on the venues for both these summits are expected to be made soon.

Finally, Lauren ran through some updates on the progress of the marketing community more generally. Version 1 of the OpenStack marketing portal has been made available. The mailing list is gaining new subscribers all the time. The monthly meetings are also seeing growing numbers attending.

Patent Cooperation Proposal

Next on the agenda was a presentation from several members of the Legal Affairs Committee on the three options they recommend the foundation should consider for increased cooperation on patent sharing or cross-licensing between foundation members.

Frankly, I don’t really have the energy to try and summarise these proposals in great detail, so this is short … however, this is certainly a complex and important topic.

The Apache License v2.0 has a patent provision which means you grant a license to any of your patents which are infringed upon by any contributions you make. If any licensee of the software claims that the software infringes on their patent, then they lose any patent rights granted to them under the license.

Two options were presented to the board for how we might encourage further sharing of patents related to OpenStack between the companies involved. The idea is that we could put OpenStack in a better defensive position by sharing a wider range of applicable patents.

The first option proposed was to closely copy Google’s Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge. The idea is that companies involved in OpenStack would pledge to not assert specific sets of relevant patents against OpenStack users.

The alternative option proposed was the adoption of an OIN-style patent cross-licensing scheme. The primary difference of this scheme is that an actual patent license is granted to users, rather than just a non-assertion pledge.

The slides outlining these options will be posed to the foundation wiki page. It is hoped the board will be in a position to come to a decision on this in November.

Closing Topics

Alice King is stepping down from her role on the Legal Affairs Committee, so the board voted to approve a motion to appoint Van Lindberg to the committee.

Rob Hirschfeld gave an update on his work to bring about a productive discussion on the question of “what is core?”. Rob has held a couple of meetings with other board members and drafted six position statements which he hopes will drive the discussion towards a consensus-based decision. Rob wishes the board to come to a good level of consensus on these position statements before opening the discussion up to the rest of the community.

Finally, there was a brief discussion about training and how members of the User Committee are actively working on training materials.

May 30th OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Last Thursday, on May 30, the OpenStack Foundation Board met over the phone for two hours to discuss a number of topics. The date for the meeting was set well in advance, the call was open to anyone who cared to listen in and agenda was posted in advance to our wiki page.

Below is my summary of our discussions. The official summary was posted earlier by Jonathan Bryce.

For this meeting, Lew Tucker acted as chairman in place of Alan Clark.

Training

The first big topic on the agenda was an update from Mark Collier on the Foundation’s work-in-progress plans for official OpenStack training and certification programs.

The idea is that, with the huge interest globally in OpenStack, we’re hearing consistently that there is a shortage of people with OpenStack expertise and training. The Foundation would like to address this in a way that adds new Openstack experts, grows our community and establishes a base knowledge set that everyone is united around.

The OpenStack ecosystem is already ramping up its training offerings and classes are available today from a number of companies all over the world. The Foundation wants to encourage this and help accelerate the availability of training.

Crucially, the Foundation proposes to introduce a new trademark program which would require all OpenStack training and credentialling providers to include a base set of training material and tests which would be developed by the Foundation itself. The hope is that we would protect the OpenStack brand by ensuring that all official training courses would have the same basic content and quality levels.

This proposal of a new trademark program triggered a significant amount of debate which continued on over email after the call. On the call, Jim Curry and Boris Renski kicked off the discussion by expressing similar concerns about whether the trademark program would actually hinder the growth of training offerings in the ecosystem. Jonathan clarified that intent isn’t to prevent training programs from competing with additional content, but rather to ensure all programs have a common baseline. Others like Nick Barcet and Todd Moore chimed in with the view that OpenStack really needs this and Nick drew an analogy with Linux Professional Institute certification.

After much discussion, the conclusion was that the topic needed further discussion before any concrete steps could be taken. Mark Collier closed out the topic by making the point that the “Built for OpenStack” trademark was currently being used for OpenStack training and this would continue until an alternative plan was put in place.

Expect to see plenty more discussion about this soon on the foundation mailing list!

Next Board Meeting

We had some discussion about when our next meeting should be held and, based on the availability of board members, it looks like it will be held on Thursday, June 27 between 9am and 11am Pacific time.

Gold Member Committee

Next up, Simon Anderson discussed a new committee that we agreed to set up at our previous meeting – the Prospective Gold Member Committee.

The idea with this committee is that when companies approach the Foundation and express an interest in becoming a Gold Member, the Committee will work with the Foundation staff and the prospective member to ensure their application is properly prepared before it comes before the board.

The committee will essentially act as a mentor for prospective new members and help them understand what is expected of Gold Members. The hope is that this will result in applicants being better prepared than we’ve seen previously.

One concern expressed by Lauren Sell and others is that the committee shouldn’t become a vetting committee. The committee doesn’t have the mandate to turn away unsuitable candidates. If a candidate chooses to ignore the committee’s advice and mentorship, they should still be able to have their application heard by the board even this ultimately means the application is likely to be received unfavourably by the board. This point was accepted and everyone was in agreement on the mandate for the committee.

The members of the committee will be Simon Anderson, Devin Carlen, Rob Hirschfeld, Joseph George, Sean Roberts and Nick Barcet.

Update from the Executive Director

Next, Jonathan gave the board a quick update.

Jonathan talked about his attending a number of OpenStack events internationally recently and how there is still tremendous opportunity to grow the OpenStack community and engage new people. He also talked about how he met with a number of significant OpenStack users and hopes to be able to use their stories to illustrate the truly global nature of the OpenStack user community.

He also talked about the success of the OpenStack Summit in Portland and how we had 2600 attendees compared to the 1300 attendees six months previously. Feedback on the summit has been overwhelmingly positive with the most common negative comments related to the Wi-Fi network and how some of the breakout sessions were massively over-subscribed. The Foundation will continue to invest significantly in networking infrastructure at the conference and there is work underway to restructure some of the room layouts at the upcoming Summit in Hong Kong based on the feedback from Portland.

Jonathan also talked about how our financials are in good shape. We had a surplus from the Portland Summit which will allow us to make the Hong Kong Summit a kick-ass event. The Foundation is also well advanced in completing its first audit and we expect to see fully audited financials for 2012 published in August. Apparently this will be a good milestone in our progress towards non-profit status.

Role of Core

After Jonathan’s update, board members had an opportunity to briefly raise topics of interest.

First of those was Rob Hirschfeld who wants to bring together a group of board members to discuss the what “Core” project status means and should mean in future.

Rob talked about how he feels that the issue of whether core projects need a plugin architecture will be the key to unlocking the discussion and making progress.

Working With Standards Bodies

Randy Bias mentioned that he had been approached by someone from the IEEE who talked about the possibility of the IEEE working together with OpenStack on interoperability and standardization issues. Randy was mostly just passing on the message but also made the point that we can probably use the the experience of other bodies to help us ensure interoperability between OpenStack clouds.

Joshua McKenty quickly took a firm and contrary view to Randy’s – that standardization bodies are typically pretty ineffective and would actually slow down our progress on OpenStack interoperability.

The discussion concluded with general agreement that while individuals are welcome to talk to and learn from whoever they wish as part of their efforts to help make progress on OpenStack interoperability. Josh also agreed to provide the board with an update on his work on refstack.

Meeting Summaries

The final brief topic was a joy indeed. As had already been discussed on the mailing list, Josh felt that my previous meeting summary breached a policy agreed by the board (before my joining) that directors would make no public comment board meetings until after Jonathan had published an official summary of the meeting. Josh also felt that my reference to the agenda of the executive session had breached the confidentiality of the session.

Jonathan and I repeated the point that Jonathan had not gotten around to doing an official summary in a reasonable time and explicitly given me the go-ahead to post my summary. In some follow-up emails, I also made the point that – in this case – we actually made no effort to keep the agenda of the executive session private during the public part of the meeting so it was completely appropriate to mention it in my summary.

April 14th OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

On April 14, the day before the OpenStack Summit in Portland began, the OpenStack Foundation Board held an all-day, in-person meeting. Like all of our board meetings, the agenda was packed solid.

After our meetings, the goal is for Jonathan to post a summary to the mailing list (like this one) and I try and follow up with a longer blog post with a bit more commentary. For a bunch of reasons, we’ve let things slide this time, but here’s my attempt at a summary anyway. It’s been a while since the meeting, so a lot of the details are pretty vague at this point.

One thing I really liked about the meeting was that we had chairs set up so that anyone who wished to attend the meeting and listen were welcome to do so. With so many stackers already in town for the summit, it really was a great opportunity to open the workings of the board to anyone interested.

Transparency Committee

The first meaty item on the agenda was an update from Joshua McKenty on the progress of the board’s Transparency Committee.

We began by discussing Nick Barcet’s efforts to choose and implement a document management system for the board. OwnCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox and github have all been considered. Google Drive and Dropbox would not be accessible by all board members. It was noted that the Foundation staff will also require a document management system and we might be able to use the same system for both use cases. Conclusion was for Nick and Monty to see if the OpenStack Infrastructure team could host OwnCloud for this purpose.

Next we discussed the transparency policy which Lauren Sell and Mark Radcliffe have been working on. The core concern is how to balance the need for having a culture of transparency and openness with the need for some information (like legal or personnel matters) to be kept confidential. The general approach discussed was having the board’s mailing list open, but confidential information would be shared via private documents in a document management system that could be referred to in mailing list posts. The distinction between confidential and embargoed information was discussed and it was agreed that embargoed information should have a disclosure date associated with it.

There was also a brief discussion on the possibility of having a transparency ombudsman. This would be a person trusted by the community with whom complaints related to transparency could be raised. It was felt this could be a duty of a foundation employee, if that individual had already established the reputation for trustworthiness and independence required.

2013 Individual Director Elections

Next up, Rob Hirschfeld led a discussion on possible changes to the election process in time for the 2013 Individual Director elections.

We began by discussing how we would go about making any required changes to the bylaws. It was recognized that we would need a firm proposal to be made to the board in August so that notice could be given in September of a vote in October in time for the elections in November.

It was also noted that a bylaws change would require a majority vote of the individual members with a voter turnout of 25%. For reference, we had a 28% turnout at the previous election.

We also briefly discussed the potential objectives for any changes to the elections process but avoided going deep on this because of the limited time available on the agenda.

Legal Affairs Committee

Next on the agenda was a discussion (led by me) about the Legal Affairs Committee.

The main concern I raise was the project (or the “Technical Community and Committee”, as I called it) needed the support of subject matter experts when dealing with the kind of legal issues regularly encountered by all open-source projects, particularly in the area of copyright and licensing. I proposed Richard Fontana’s idea that, rather than depending exclusively on the Legal Affairs Committee or the Foundation’s legal counsel for help with such matters, we would create a legal-discuss mailing list where any subject matter experts could contribute to resolving issues raise by the technical community. The idea was that we would also have a FAQ wiki page to document any conclusions reache on the list. There was some discussion about whether opinions expressed on the list could be construed as legal advice and it was agreed to put in place disclaimers to avoid that perception.

(For the record, we’ve since created the legal-discuss mailing list and the legal issues FAQ.)

We also discussed whether the description of scope of the Legal Affairs Committee in the bylaws could be improved and whether the strict five member limit in the bylaws was really such a good idea. It was agreed that I would work with Alice King to see if we can address those issues.

(Again for the record, Alice and I had a productive discussion and we put together the Legal Affairs Committee wiki page to at least ensure the committee’s scope, membership and progress could be properly documented.)

Gold Member Applications

Next up, we had presentations from Juniper and Ericsson on their applications for Gold Membership. Once the presentations had been completed, we convened an executive session to discuss the applications in private.

During the executive session, the board reviewed each application using the [https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Governance/Foundation/PotentialMemberCriteria previously agreed criteria].

Once the executive session was completed, the board reconvened the meeting and carried out the official, public vote on the new member applications. The applications of both Ericsson and Juniper were approved.

As part of the voting process, some directors chose to publicly restate their concerns with the applications that had been discussed during the executive session. One concern raised by Rob Hirschfeld and Joshua McKenty was that, while both applicants shared their plans for increasing their OpenStack engagement, it could be argued that future plans aren’t the same as the “demonstrated commitment” talked about in the membership criteria.

Another concern discussed at length was that applicants could provide much more in the way of written detail about how they meet the membership criteria. One take on this was that applicants should be expected to provide a resume of their involvement with, and commitment, to OpenStack. Simon Anderson proposed that we form a membership committee which would mentor applicants and advise them on how to prepare their application.

In total, discussion of these applications and the process for new gold members took up 4 hours of the board’s time. While this may seem excessive, it was very apparent that everyone on the board was keen for the Foundation to have gold members that would help drive OpenStack’s success. With the addition of Ericsson and Juniper, we now have 16 of the 24 gold member slots filled. As the number of remaining slots shrink, I think we will see the board having higher expectations of applications.

Programs

At this point, the board seemed collectively quite drained of energy and the agenda had to be significantly reworked because there wasn’t much time remaining.

Monty took the opportunity to briefly discuss an idea he had to introduce the concept of “programs” in addition to our current concept of projects. We would use this to recognize efforts like documentation and CI on equal footing with the integrated projects. Other efforts like Oslo, TripleO and puppet recipes were also mentioned as potential programs.

Rather than go into too detailed discussion on the topic, we generally expressed support for the concept but agreed it needed further discussion.

Joint Session

Part of the agenda for the meeting was that members of the Technical Committee were invited to join the meeting for a joint session. Monty and I were obviously already present, but Michael Still and Thierry Carrez also joined. Other TC members had not yet arrived in Portland or weren’t fully aware of the joint session. We had some discussion about how to have a joint session with better attendance from both groups and the idea of a joint design summit session at the next summit was mooted.

User Committee

Tim Bell stepped up next to give an overview of the results of the User Committee’s recently completed survey of OpenStack users.

Tim is presenting these exciting results at the summit, so I won’t repeat them here. However, we did have an interesting discussion about how representative the survey was of OpenStack deployments. Tim offered 50-75% as his gut feeling for the percentage of deployments covered but Joshua McKenty reckoned it was probably less than 25%. There was some discussion about future surveys and the potential for an opt-in usage stats tracking tool to increase the percentage of deployments we know about.

Incubation Update Committee

Next up, Alan Clark presented the final report of the Incubation Update Committee.

The board was generally very supportive of the work of the committee, but it was clear further discussion was required on the topic of Core status and the board’s trademark usage program. Much discussion was had around the desire for projects like Heat and Ceilometer to be able to adopt official OpenStack project names (like “OpenStack Measurement” for Ceilometer) and whether this was all that would be implied by Core status. However, there is also the question of whether clouds which wish to use the OpenStack brand should be required to use all Core projects or whether a trademark program around more targeted interoperability testing made more sense.

It was agreed that this was an incredibly important and urgent topic but that we had run out of time at this meeting to make progress on it.

February 12th OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Yesterday was the first in-person meeting of the 2013 Foundation Board. We met at Rackspace’s offices in San Francisco at Jim Curry’s invitation. The meeting also coincided with the Foundation staff all getting together in-person for the first time. With so many OpenStack people converging on the one place, it was quite funny to randomly run into various people at the Courtyard Marriott around the corner.

The meeting kicked off at 10am after some informal introductions. For me, it was a case of playing a “hey, are you Tristan?”/”No, I’m Sean” guessing game. Monty brought his usual wackiness to the ocassion by handing out beads and wearing a luminous, sparkling orange fedora with bright blue flashing LEDs. It’s Mardi Gras time!

Formalities

The first item on the agenda was a formal role call. 5 board members couldn’t attend and Tim Bell was on the phone. Also attending were Jonathan Bryce and Mark from the Foundation staff. Mark Radcliffe, our outside council, was on the phone.

From that start, it was obvious that it was going to be extremely difficult for those dialled into the meeting to be able to participate effectively. This is definitely something we will continue to struggle with and, as one of the few who had to travel halfway around the world for the meeting, I can certainly sympathise with those on the phone.

As a further formality, Alan Clark reviewed some of the existing board policies:

  • that observers are allowed at board meetings, except in the case of executive sessions
  • that board members wouldn’t blog or tweet until after an official summary of the meeting had been posted to the foundation list

There was some discussion about how executive discussions should be handled. How we can describe what the topic of any executive sessions were and perhaps also publicly hold any votes arising from those sessions.

Rob Hirschfeld proposed that our general decision making process should involve first coming to an agreement on the criteria for making the decision and then applying the criteria. The idea was that this process would avoid some circular debates and save time.

User Committee

Next up, Ryan Lane presented an update on the progress of the User Committee. He described the mandate of the committee as “fighting for the users”. The initial goals of the committee are to define their charter and a set of categories of users. Ryan encouraged the board to review and comment on the Google Doc they had prepared.

Much discussion was had about how to gather data about our users. Options included a CRM system, user polls, anonymous usage reporting tools, aggregating statistics to protect the innocent and the like. This is clearly going to be a very hot topic for the committee.

During the discussion, Josh McKenty posted a blueprint for how a opt-in tracking system might work.

We also had an interesting debate about the committee should move forward with adding more members to the committee. The committee’s own proposal for this was to be democratic and have elections for representatives from different geographies or categories of users. Quite a few board members raised concerns about this approach and asked the committee members to press forward quickly and appoint a diverse set of members with minimal bureaucracy.

Once Ryan had finished, the board expressed their thanks and support for the efforts of the committee. Ryan was asked to stay and observe the board meeting, but Ryan preferred to go and get some “real work” done. That’s the spirit!

If you want to follow the progress of the user committee, the best way is to subscribe to user-committee@lists.openstack.org mailing list. Ryan would be happy to share his slide deck if you email him.

Legal Affairs Committee

Alice King and Nissa Strottman took the floor and presented the work of the Legal Affairs Committee on the whole area of patents and risk mitigation.

Alice and Nissa first talked the board through some background on patents. They described the “risk landscape” in terms of competing companies suing and counter-suing each other for infringement (Alice had an awesome diagram of “who’s suing who in the mobile industry” which got a good laugh from everyone) but also, perhaps more importantly, the threat of Non Practicing Entities or “patent trolls”.

We talked in some detail about the Patent Grant in the Apache License and how it does a lot to mitigate the risks but doesn’t completely eliminate them. In particular, it does little to help with the threat of NPEs. An interesting debate followed about various nuances of the Apache License definitions and how they relate to OpenStack.

Alice and Nissa described approaches taken by other communities – e.g. OIN, GPLv3, Open Compute and Eclipse – and also how an additional contributor agreement could be adopted by the project to further help. Brian Stevens talked about how the OIN works and how it isn’t strictly limited to Linux. It was noted that many of the larger members of the Foundation are also members of OIN. Eileen Evans described how the adoption of a new contributor agreement would be a massive bureaucratic challenge for some of the larger companies involved in the project.

A point on one of the slides that a more robust patent policy would remove a barrier to OpenStack’s adoption triggered some discussion about whether patent risk is in fact hindering OpenStack’s adoption. The consensus seemed to be that this wasn’t seen as a huge issue and how, in fact, OpenStack is in as good a position as most any other open-source project. While it’s important for the Foundation to do due diligence on this matter, it’s also important that we don’t overstate the actual risk.

Another topic discussed was the question of “defensive publication” of ideas generated by the developer community so that they are properly documented in a way that is accessible to lawyers who wish to demonstrate prior art. Various ideas were suggested about how blueprints could form the basis for such an approach and how to do this without placing the burden on the developers.

It’s amusing the way we wind ourselves in knots over these things and generally come to the conclusion that the issues are difficult, but that things are working pretty well as they currently stand.

Finally, with limited time available, we picked up again on some of the discussion from the previous board meeting about the scope, name and makeup of the committee. Some board members seemed fine with how things currently stand while others reiterated the issues previously discussed.

Anyone interested in the legal affairs committee should talk to Alice King about how to get involved. She would be happy to share her slides with those interested.

Lunch

At this point, it was time to break for lunch. Most board members stayed for the lunch provided on-site and had productive, informal discussions while eating.

Monty, Nick Barcet and I attended a Technical Committee meeting over IRC while also eating and chatting with the rest of the board. That’s multi-taksing! Amazingly every single member of the TC attended the meeting and we voted unamimously to update the Incubation Process as recommended by the IncUp committee. Such a level of TC consensus is completely unprecedented and took a tonne of work to achieve. Kudos to Thierry for herding the cats on this.

Financial Report

Sean Roberts presented a report on the work of the Financial Oversight committee and we discussed the progress on completing the Foundation’s first financial audit and the updated financial forecast for the year.

The topic was so uncontroversial (you could even say boring) that we didn’t even take much in the way of notes on it. There was unanimous agreement that this is how it should be and we’d be doing something wrong if the topic was “interesting”. The board praised the committee and the staff for their dilligence in doing everything to make sure the Foundation’s financial affairs were beyond question.

Transparency

Josh McKenty was next up presenting his proposal for a Transparency Policy for the board and his wanting volunteers to form a committee to finalize the details.

He described the committee’s goal as:

To improve transparency and foster collaboration between the foundation members and members of the board, technical committee, user committee and other committees. Specifically, to draft statements and prototype systems changes for board review and approval.

A large part of the discussion was around trying to quantify the problem we’retrying to solve and understanding how we’d achieve closure on it. The board doesn’t want to be consumed with this indefinitely, so how will we know when it’s simply a case of “you can’t please everyone”.

We wrapped this up by gathering volunteers for the committee:

  • Nick Barcet
  • Jonathan Bryce
  • Alan Clark
  • Eileen Evans
  • Tristan Goode
  • Rob Hirschfeld
  • Kyle MacDonald
  • Joshua McKenty
  • Mark McLoughlin
  • Lauren Sell

Director’s Report

Next up, Jonathan provided an awesome update on the Foundation’s progress and plans. It’s clear an awful lot of time and thought went into this super-helpful and encouraging update.

One of Jonathan’s slides showed some mind-blowing statistics detailing the growth of the developer community, user community and ecosystem. The statistics on the number of patches merged every month were really stunning and the board praised the success of the project’s infrastructure team in enabling this level of activity.

Jonathan talked to his hiring plan and introduced the latest Foundation employees. We’re executing almost to the plan and there are two positions still to fill – another infrastructure engineer and another community manager.

There was a brief discussion of the updated budget. The summary is that slightly more money is both coming in and going out than planned, giving a positive net effect. A motion was passed to approve the new budget.

The discussion moved more to event planning and marketing matters and Lauren Sell filled the board in on a lot of the details in this area.

Planning of the Havana summit was well in hand and it was noted that the choice of venue means that costs will rise more linearly with attendance than previous summits. Lauren discussed the venue selection process for the October 2013 summit which should come to a conclusion soon. Future summits were discussed with general agreement that a two year cycle should be rougly East Coast US, Asia, West Coast US and Europe. Several board members expressed a desire to get started on the selection process for the October 2014 summit since the size of the event means that suitable locations get booked up very far in advance.

Lauren also described her efforts to bring the various marketers at dozens of OpenStack companies together with some of the same principles that drive the collaborative software development process. She has created a mailing list which already has almost 100 members and holds a regular phone meeting of the group. The goal is to have all those involved in marketing OpenStack to be highly co-ordinated and “on message”.

Finally, Lauren quickly presented an independent study she had just received on OpenStack’s marketing impact relative to other open-source projects and industry players. The results of the study were simply stunning and most of us appeared to be struggling to believe them. However, even if the statistics on OpenStack are massively inflated, we’re still hugely being successful. Lauren, Mark and Jonathan have already worked with the authors of the report to find any data that could undermine the conclusions and will continue to do so.

Jonathan and Lauren can be contacted directly for the materials they presented to the board.

Strategy Session

Jonathan moved on to kick off a strategy session where board members would have an opportunity to put their thinking hats on and brainstorm together. He teed up the discussion by presenting his thesis that OpenStack was building a “platform ecosystem” with huge potential for network effects that would result in OpenStack being the dominant cloud platform in the market place.

We then moved onto having a short exercise where we used sticky-notes to throw out our ideas in three areas – “interoperability”, “reference architectures” and “engaging users”. Once the ideas had been gathered, we split into breakout groups to discuss ideas for each of those areas.

Rather than trying to capture all of the ideas and action items from the discussions here, it’s perhaps easier to call out some highlights:

  • We’re going to explore the use of Tempest as an API compatibility testing tool which can be pointed at an OpenStack instance. The idea is that anyone who wants to license the OpenStack trademark would request a test run which would result in a scorecard. At every release, the board would update the
    results required for each OpenStack mark so that obtaining a trademark license simply becomes a matter of fixing any failing tests which are required for the desired mark.
  • We’re going to explore the definition of reference architecture “flavours” and how these reference architectures could be defined and maintained. The initial idea is that Heat templates could be used as a deployable reference architecture definitions.
  • In terms of engaging users, we decided that trystack.org and deployment tracking tools were crucial.

Election Process Committee

Todd Moore raised the question of whether allowing Foundation staff to run for the Individual Member Director elections was a waste of a board seat since staff members are so involved in the Foundation anyway. The question of potential conflicts of interest was also raised. There was no time to debate this question so the board resolved to reconstitute the Election Process Committee to consider this question and the general question of the eligibility to run and vote for these board seats.

The committee will consist of Todd as chair and the 8 individual board members.

Evening Event

We wrapped up at 6pm sharp and headed over to a nearby restaurant with all of the Foundation staff members. Far from simply being a social event, it was incredible to see 30+ focused and committed folks spend over 4 hours going from conversation to conversation about how to continue OpenStack’s success into the future. For me personally, those conversations alone were enough to justify the effort it took to get to the meeting.

First Board Meeting

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Disclaimer: apparently board members aren’t supposed to comment on board meetings until the official minutes have been published (up to 2 weeks after the meeting). However, Jonathan does publish timely summaries of the meetings to bridge that gap. This post isn’t intended as an official record of the meeting. Read it as if it was a summary by a non-board-member listening to the public part of the meeting.

I attended my first OpenStack Foundation Board meeting today.

When I was observing the board from the outside (yet not listening in on their calls), I found the meeting minutes a fairly colourless way of following what was going on. I’m going to attempt to write up some thoughts after each meeting, but no promises :-)

The first thing that struck me is that we spend a fair amount of time messing about with the conference call system, taking a roll call, debating proper procedure and the like. My guess is that over the course of the 150 minute call, we spent 30 minutes on this stuff. Still, given that the Foundation is still relatively new and there are 24 board members attending along with some Foundation staff members, it actually wasn’t terrible.

Another thing is that I’d say roughly only half of the folks on the call actively contributed to the discussions. I’m curious whether that was because it’s difficult to jump into a discussion on such a big call or just that all points were being covered satisfactorily by those contributing. I myself often sit through conference calls without saying a word for the latter reason. Not today, though.

The first meaty item on the agenda was Jonathan giving a nice 30 minute summary of how the Foundation has progressed since it was formed. At one point, Jonathan had too keep going while some hold music played in the background. It was all really positive stuff, nicely putting our achievements into context. I hope the slide deck will be forwarded to the foundation mailing list.

Next up was Alice King with a proposed charter for the Legal Affairs Committee (which doesn’t have a page on our governance page – we should fix that). The committee was formed under the bylaws:

4.15 Legal Affairs Committee. The Legal Affairs Committee shall be an advisory committee to the Board of Directors and shall be comprised of no more than five (5) members. The Board of Directors shall appoint the members of Legal Affairs Committee. The Legal Affairs Committee shall advise the Board of Directors on the management of: (i) compliance with and enforcement of the Trademark Policy, (ii) strategies to promote the efficient intellectual property protection of the OpenStack Project, including without limitation, the resolution of patent and other intellectual property issues and disputes related to the Members’ use of the OpenStack Project, and (iii) all programs that the Board of Directors is considering relating to intellectual property management and protection.

but this proposed charter attempted to elaborate that the role of the committee would be as policy advisor in the area of Intellectual Policy. This seemed to catch some board members by surprise (including me) and there were a bunch of really good points like whether a name like “IP Policy Committee” would be more appropriate and that more diversity (including non-laywers) beyond the existing 5 members is needed for such a charter. I’m very happy to see the level of interest in getting this right, because it’s hugely important. In the end, we agreed to the charter as propose but without the list of specific projects the committee might undertake. The whole topic will be revisited in more detail at our next meeting.

Next up, I was presenting as a Technical Committee representative about the progress of the Incubation and Core Update Committee. More specifically, I was briefing the board on how the TC intends to proceed with the incubation process for Ceilometer and Heat based on our understanding of the TC’s existing mandate. This is all covered by an excellent diagram from Thierry and a wordy etherpad. This seemed to be fairly well received, barring some confusion about whether a vote was required.

At this point, our scheduled time was almost up but we still had two agenda items that really needed covering. Both needed to be discussed in private (for good reasons IMHO), however one of them will be adequetly summarised in the minutes while the other will be open to public discussion very soon.

All in all, I have to say I enjoyed the meeting and look forward to the full day meeting on Feb 12 in San Francisco.