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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.