[OpenStack Foundation] Foundation Structure Draft

Dave Neary dave at neary-consulting.com
Wed Feb 15 16:01:18 UTC 2012

Hi Jonathan,

On 02/10/2012 10:45 PM, Jonathan Bryce wrote:
> Now that we've settled on a good baseline of what the mission of the
> Foundation will be, it's time to set down the details of how it will
> be organized to accomplish that mission. Over the past couple of
> months, we've talked to a variety of people involved in other
> foundations (in leadership positions and as developers on specific
> projects) as well as individuals and companies already involved in
> OpenStack. We now have a basic framework for review that we think
> fits with our mission and community. This framework is not
> exhaustive, and there are several open questions and details that we
> have purposefully not taken a stance on yet, such as the details of
> the Technical Committee. We are working on publishing a list of those
> questions and we'll post those to the list and discuss in the meetup
> next week.
> http://wiki.openstack.org/Governance/Foundation/Structure

Thanks for the proposal.

As I said a few days ago, I think it's important to divorce the 
technical goings-on of the project from the financial and organisational 
aspects of the foundation - and that certainly comes across as a goal in 
the structure document.

It's interesting that you include release management as something which 
will transition to the Foundation - in most software projects I know, 
release management is a side effect of the development process, and is 
generally the responsible of the technical project staff. Is that how it 
works in OpenStack too?

I think it's great to see the terms lengthened from 6 months to 1 year 
for the Technical Board - that makes more sense to me than 6 month 
terms. But in the spirit of "leave technical operation alone", perhaps 
it makes sense to separate the changes in the technical board/PPB from 
the foundation scope & discussion? It may also make sense to discuss 
growing the size of the TB to reflect the increasing diversity of the 
OpenStack technical community.

In terms of the foundation governance, it makes complete sense to me 
that the companies who are putting money into the foundation have a say 
in how that money is spent. Other organisations like the GNOME 
Foundation have avoided this in the past, while organisations like 
Eclipse and the Linux Foundation have embraced it. Usually, the amount 
of money involved dictates what's appropriate.

Since the OpenStack Foundation looks to be setting its scope as an 
organisation with a staff, it probably makes more sense to follow the 
Linux Foundation type structure. They have a board of 15 members, made 
up of:
* 7 representatives of 7 Platinum members
* 3 representatives elected by the 14 Gold members
* 1 representative elected by the 111 Silver members
* 2 representatives elected by individual members
* 1 representative nominated from the Technical Advisory Board (their 
equivalent of the Technical Board)

The board gets to approve the foundation budget, tell the executive 
staff what their priorities are for the year, and do other 
board-of-director type things, but they don't get to say what happens in 
the Linux kernel. Strangely enough.

The TAB is elected by the kernel hackers at the Kernel Summit every 
year, and represents the meritocratic technically savvy group that 
serves as a liaison between the different constituencies, the Linux 
Foundation and the kernel community. Put simply, they ensure that the 
kernel hackers are heard outside the kernel mailing lists, and that 
companies investing in Linux get heard inside the mailing lists. The do 
things like co-ordinate content for the Plumber's conference, the Kernel 
Summit, they talk about how the kernel hackers can do outreach to other 
groups, that kind of thing.

Something like this maps closely onto what you're trying to achieve with 
OpenStack - the difference being that you're not at the same starting 
point. But this type of board & membership/funding structure might make 
sense for you.

Like others, I wonder if "Strategic members" is the right way to frame 
organisational members. Why not just "Corporate Members"? You could 
perhaps define membership levels based on financial commitment - and 
there are lots of ways of doing that: straight dollar value (Linux 
Foundation has Platinum: $500K, Gold: $100K, Silver: $5k - $20k, based 
on # of employees), company size (the Eclipse Foundation sets membership 
fees as a percentage of revenues, with a minimum and maximum level), or 
some combination of both.

The key point, I think, is that if the technical governance of the 
project is truly independent of the organisational governance, then this 
is fairly straightforward. What are the financial needs? What value does 
Rackspace place on the resources it will be giving to the foundation? 
What will the foundatioon actually be doing, and who has an interest in 
influencing that? What is the value of being a member?

None of these are easy questions (note: straightforward isn't the same 
as easy), but by taking the technical side of things out of the 
equation, things get a bit easier.


Dave Neary
Neary Consulting - http://www.neary-consulting.com
Tel: +33 982 382 735
Cell: +33 677 019 213

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