Benevolent B.S. or How to Skate to A Bright Future With OpenStack

By: Randy Bias

It seems like each new year brings a couple of zombie themes in the OpenStack community. (Zombie because they’re hard to kill) This year, we’re trying to kill the walking dead of “enterprise adoption” and “the OpenStack governance model is broken” (hint: it’s not).

In my keynote at OpenStack Silicon Valley next month, I shall swing an axe at the head of zombie number two.

You’ve all heard the refrain:

“OpenStack can’t do <insert favorite zombie trope here> because there is no benevolent dictator as with Linux.”

The problem is not with the governance model. OpenStack follows a technical meritocracy (or, alternately, a democratic meritocracy). In the simplest terms, this means that the contributors to a particular program — networking, compute, storage, dashboard, DBaaS, and so on — advocate for the features and bug fixes they believe should be included in each new biennial integrated release of the software. All of this is open, public, and often, contentious.

The stress, sub-optimal outcomes, and occasional ugliness which this process generates can overshadow the positive attributes of a democratic meritocracy: the near impossibility of single-entity control over a program; surfacing of the best ideas through mutual vetting; and broad inclusiveness. Of course, this last attribute is shared in common with the Linux community.

I will lay out the key challenges that have arisen in the OpenStack community that hold it back from more rapid success. We will talk about what can be done to address those issues, including possible tweaks to the governance model, how we should think about making a democratic meritocracy work efficiently, and how we merge customer focus with a shared vision of the future.

This call to arms will be frank, open to debate and critical to OpenStack’s future.

So, if you’ve not done it yet, go register. The speaker lineup is uncharacteristically diverse for an OpenStack community event, and that should prove informative if not downright entertaining.

Randy Bias is the Co-founder and CEO of Cloudscaling and a board member of the OpenStack Foundation.

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