[OpenStack Foundation] is 'strategic' the right name? (was Re: Foundation Structure: An Alternative)

Alan Clark aclark at suse.com
Tue Mar 13 20:51:11 UTC 2012

>>> On 3/13/2012 at 04:37 AM, Dave Neary <dave at neary-consulting.com> wrote: 
> Hi,
> On 03/09/2012 11:45 PM, Stefano Maffulli wrote:
>> On Fri, 2012-03-09 at 16:27 -0600, Mark Collier wrote:
>>> Associate Member category, [...]
>>> Strategic Member [...]
>> I wonder if calling 'Strategic' members that basically only have more
>> money but the same responsibilities and rights of other members is
>> really the best thing to do. It made sense when we had only two kinds
>> (corporate and individuals) and corporate members where called to put
>> money down to create the foundation. That was a strategic role.
> I agree with you Stefano. I suggested moving away from "strategic 
> members" as a name previously, because it includes an implicit value 
> judgement - "OpenStack is important to these people (and, by 
> implication, not so much to others)" - I don't know whether there is a 
> specific reason for sticking with that label rather than something like 
> gold/platinum member, which other organisations use.
> Incidentally, I still think that starting from the question "what will 
> the foundation do, and how much will that cost?" is useful, and will 
> help resolve some of the questions around the composition of the board.
> My suggestion is to start by drawing up a charter of the foundation 
> describing its scope, and a job description/budget for an executive 
> director. In my opinion, it doesn't make sense to say "The foundation 
> will have 6 full time resources, working on X, Y and Z" before you have 
> an executive director in place - that person would then, ideally, put 
> together a budget proposal and recs for hires of the people they would 
> need to accomplish the foundation's mission - and such a proposal would 
> need approval by the board.
> As one example: the OuterCurve Foundation has 2 full time employees (an 
> executive director and a technical director) and outsources all of their 
> administrative, legal, financial and marketing services. They're 
> basically spending the equivalent of one full-time person for 4 
> different functions. When they have a longer-term need, and the budget 
> to pay for it, they will hire people in at that point.
> On the board size issue, I'll once again point people to the Linux 
> Foundation's solution to the problem: a number of seats per membership 
> level, including some seats named from the TAB and elected by individual 
> members. This gives individual members some (representative) oversight 
> into the financial running of the foundation, and importantly, a voice 
> at the table for strategic decisions which could affect the Linux 
> developer community, but honestly, the running of the Linux Foundation 
> affects very little the running of the kernel project (except when they 
> decide to hire kernel hackers as "fellows").

I agree with the Point that Dave is making here, but do want to clarify a bit and draw out an additional point.  One of the LF Board seats is for a representative of the TAB.  That representative is elected by a vote amongst all invitees of the Linux Kernel Summit, many of which are not necessarily individual members of the Linux Foundation.  The TAB representative on the LF board is a vital member of the board as that person represents the key contributors to the Linux Kernel; which provides ties directly back to the mission of the LF.  Having such a representative on the board has proven extremely valuable over the years to provide direct insight into the needs of the community, rich communication channels, the ability to build a high degree of trust between the open source community and the LF, the ability to react quickly to community needs. 

As discussion continues for the makeup of the OpenStack board, I would suggest that a similar inclusion is warranted. I'm not as sure where that representative should come from, perhaps the Technical Council, but I do believe that such a representative is needed.


> I do understand what Joshua is saying - it would not be good to have Big 
> Players who get to railroad all the strategic decisions of the 
> foundation and potentially (a) take the foundation in a direction which 
> is not what the technical contributors want, essentially making it 
> irrelevant, or (b) having excessive influence on the direction of the 
> member projects with potentially damaging results. What I suggested was 
> a model based on 3 thirds: the Big Guys pay money and get a guaranteed 
> board seat, the next level down pay less money and run elections for a 
> third of the board seats, and individual members (by whatever criteria 
> is judged appropriate) elect another third of the board. That seems to 
> address most of the concerns.
> In terms of the level playing field, I'd suggest that the board 
> shouldn't be on the field in the first place. But I know that a number 
> of people think that's idealistic of me :)
> One thing I would like to say is that having in-person meetings to 
> resolve debates like this is a Very Bad Idea. That is one way that the 
> organisation end up leaning towards the big members who can send someone 
> to such meetings at short notice or a small constituency of people who 
> live in the same geographic area. It might take longer and be more 
> painful, but I'd urge you to keep the debate online - and even to avoid 
> real-time debate where possible.
> Cheers,
> Dave.

More information about the Foundation mailing list