OpenStack Paris Summit Retrospective

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 » community

A few weeks ago I attended the OpenStack Summit in Paris. For this next development cycle (“Kilo”) I decided to step down from the Program Technical Lead (PTL) role for Zaqar in order to give others the opportunity to lead, and to give myself more time to focus on a few other projects that have been demanding more and more of my attention. The new PTL, Flavio Percoco, is an amazing engineer and a good friend of mine; I know he is going to do a great job with Zaqar going forward. As any former or current PTL will tell you, it is far from an easy job, and I’m grateful to Flavio for stepping up to lead the program.

During the week of the summit, I observed three important trends in the OpenStack ecosystem. First, private clouds are starting to take on the characteristics of public clouds. Second, design discussions and general interactions between various members of the community are becoming significantly more civil and constructive. And finally, interns are taking a greater role in delivering new features across various OpenStack projects.

OpenStack Paris Design Summit

OpenStack is growing up. For anyone attending the Paris Summit, it was hard to miss the strong interest by banks, telcos and large enterprises in leveraging OpenStack within their data centers. The economics, flexibility, and control provided by OpenStack is (continuing) to attract some big players. It is my belief that as more organizations like BMW, BBVA, Bloomberg, Comcast/NBC, Time Warner, AT&T, Orange, Swisscom, and Huawei continue to adopt the open cloud in critical parts of their infrastructure, more and more private clouds will start looking like public clouds in terms of scale and other requirements. This will necessitate a dramatic improvement in the technical underpinnings of various projects, including performance, security, reliability, scale, and operability.

In order to deliver on these challenging requirements, active technical contributors and community leaders will need to be more disciplined and efficient than ever before. At this past summit I was happy to discover that community members were spending less time arguing about who is right, and more time discussing what is right; with a tacit acceptance that the community will need to embrace multiple technologies and deployment options in order to cover all of our emerging use cases.

Any creative endeavor of significance is the product of an extraordinary number of ideas; if we want to create a world-class open cloud solution, we must become incredibly efficient at farming great ideas and crafting them together. We must have a culture in which every voice is heard and valued, with individuals holding themselves accountable to create a constructive, positive community. “Seek first to understand,” as Stephen Covey would say. We aren’t simply building up software; we are building up people. Do that well, and the software will take care of itself.

Paris Design Summit - Eiffel Tower at Night

One of the best sources of fresh ideas in the OpenStack community is our growing network of interns. During the summit in Paris I had the opportunity to spend time with several interns who are doing amazing work across a number of projects. These young professionals are our future leaders. They bring a fresh perspective to their respective teams, helping all of us challenge long-held assumptions and see the forest for the trees. I hope that we will continue to see more and more interns participating in OpenStack through such means as the GNOME Outreach Program for Women, Google Summer of Code, and general corporate sponsorships.

OpenStack will have a bright future if we can strike while the iron’s hot. Let’s take the Big Private challenge head-on, focusing our development efforts on efficiency, security, reliability, usability and operability. Let’s continue creating a more constructive, positive software development culture. And finally, let’s continue to invest in our future leaders through mentoring and internship programs.