My OpenStack Foundation Board Candidacy

The OpenStack Foundation Board election has begun with 39 excellent candidates for only 8 seats!

Each candidate was asked to answer a number of questions to give an insight into why they are running for the Board. My answers are below.

If you’d like to know some more about my involvement in OpenStack, Rackspace recently posted a nice interview with me as part of their “How I Contribute To OpenStack” series.

What is your relationship to OpenStack, and why is its success important to you and/or your company? What would you say is your biggest contribution to OpenStack’s success to date?

I’ve been involved with OpenStack for just over a year now. I started out packaging OpenStack for Fedora, but have concentrated mostly on contributing to the core projects in various ways since then.

I’m a member of the nova-core team and spend quite a bit of time reviewing proposed changes in gerrit. I’m also the openstack-common PTL and have been working to kickstart this effort to create a shared library for all OpenStack projects. My role as PTL recently means that I’m now a PPB/TC member, but I haven’t contributed much there yet. Finally, I co-ordinate the efforts of the stable-maint and release teams to maintain a stable branch for OpenStack’s core projects and publish regular bugfix releases.

It’s thanks to Red Hat that I have time to make these contributions to the project and I am the technical lead of Red Hat’s OpenStack team.

Red Hat’s mission statement is all about being a catalyst in communities and, while credit must go to others for initially catalysing the OpenStack community, we recognize the massive strength of OpenStack’s diverse community. This strength is the foundation that will ensure that OpenStack continues to grow, continues to improve and will be around for a long time to win. Red Hat is doing everything it can to help make that happen.

Describe your experience with other non profits or serving as a board member. How does your experience prepare you for the role of a board member?

I’ve been heavily involved in various open-source projects for over a decade now. Observing and pondering the role of non-profit organizations in open-source projects has prepared me well to participate in the OpenStack Foundation and its efforts to determine its own particular role.

Indeed, I participated significantly in the early discussions leading up to the formation of the Foundation and even proposed a strawman Foundation structure based on my experiences with other similar organizations.

What do you see as the Board’s role in OpenStack’s success?

More importantly, I think, is the role the Foundation will play in OpenStack’s success. I’m a big fan of the Foundation’s simple mission statement – to “protect, empower and promote” OpenStack. It perfectly encapsulates the role of the Foundation.

The “protecting” and “promoting” elements of the mission are hugely important, but what I find myself wondering most about is how the Foundation can “empower” the project. The Foundation can certainly use some of its budget to fill gaps in the resources which are available to the project. But, to me, “empowering” the project is mostly about re-inforcing the understanding that the project’s future and direction lies in the hand of its meritocractic community of contributors (in the broadest possible sense) and not the Foundation itself.

I think that if the Board delivers on the promise of a Foundation which “protects, empowers and promotes”, we will find ourselves in the enviable situation of a project with a large and diverse community of contributors supported by a well-financed organization acting at all times in the interests of that community.

What do you think the top priority of the Board should be during the OpenStack Foundation’s first year?

I think it’s the transitioning of responsibilities from Rackspace to the Foundation will take much of the focus of the Foundation and the Board in the coming year. The Board will need to appoint an Executive Director and, in turn, oversee the Executive Director’s work to transition the likes of community management, release management and event co-ordination to employees of the Foundation.

A huge part of OpenStack’s success to date is that functions such as these have been executed extremely well under Rackspace’s management. The transition to a Foundation is a significant challenge in its own right and we cannot afford any missteps here. As part of this transition, I look forward to more open discussion leading up to decisions made by the Foundation.

I also expect the Board to quickly establish the User Committee and Legal Affairs Committee. The User Committee will have a hugely important role to help advocate specific needs of operators and users. The Legal Affairs Committee will be needed to help us make progress on reforming our trademark and contributor agreements.

Finally, the Board will have its work cut out finding its feet as the official voice of OpenStack. The Board will be expected to speak on behalf of us all and, as such, will need to work hard to build and reflect consensus within the project.

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