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

Alan Clark aclark at suse.com
Tue Mar 13 21:44:14 UTC 2012

>>> On 3/13/2012 at 02:51 PM, "Alan Clark" <aclark at suse.com> wrote: 

>>>> 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.

On today's call, Jonathan clarified for me that all contributors will be part of the individual members class. The individual member class has seats on the board, so my point is covered!

> regards,
> AlanClark
>> 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.
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