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