June 27th OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

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.

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