[OpenStack Foundation] Use of the word "certified" and protecting brand OpenStack

Tristan Goode tristan at aptira.com
Wed Oct 10 21:42:21 UTC 2012

Dear Foundation Members,
I believe a key role of the Foundation is to protect the brand that is OpenStack.
After raising the issue with Rackspace and Jonathan Bryce several days ago, yesterday I sought my fellow Foundation Board members opinion on Rackspace's use of the word "certified" in media releases 6 days ago, tweets from their staff, and as late as yesterday in this mail out to the summit attendees below. I emailed my Board colleagues because I thought raising this with the elected representatives of the OpenStack Community would alert them to the potential ramifications of this issue. As I see it Rackspace have jumped the gun and are ambush marketing. 
The main problems I see:
1. The timing is unfortunate because there is no clear Board/Foundation policy as yet. 
2. I believe it is the Foundation's right to determine what is certified and what is not under the terms of the Foundation's trademarks.
3. This type of activity is clearly open to abuse. Any operator regardless of size, integrity or professionalism could adopt a similar approach. Therefore it needs to be dealt with urgently.
Leaving Rackspace's actions aside, I made a suggestion for a certification process for training materials and deliverables that they be offered to a community sourced committee for review and approval. If this proposal is accepted then I would ask Rackspace that they offer up their course materials for this review, and that this might form a baseline for establishing the certification benchmark.
If certified qualifications are not valued in the USA, courses that present an official certification are highly valued in Australia, Asia and Europe as clear markers of achievement. Integrity of that certification is key.
If this was a mistake, and I sincerely hope it was, it is able to be, and should be, corrected.
If we cannot gather enough support to resist such opportunistic behaviour then we (as a community) risk letting this run away on us. The Foundation needs to formulate a considered and effective response on this very important topic. It needs your help. Make your opinions known.
From: Jim Curry [mailto:jim.curry at rackspace.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, 10 October 2012 1:08 PM
To: Randy Bias; Tristan Goode
Cc: foundation-board at lists.openstack.org
Subject: Re: [Foundation Board] Use of the word "certified" and guidelines around use of words like "official"
The email was an unfortunate mistake by our marketing team.  It does not represent the official branding or positioning of our offer.  We aren't perfect, and for any confusion that created I apologize.
To be clear, our offer is a "Rackspace Certified" training program for OpenStack, not "OpenStack certified" for OpenStack.  We are putting our brand behind the training, not representing the brand of the project itself.  It has never been part of our launch messaging or positioning, and if that was ever done it was an unfortunate mistake and not the company position.
I 100% agree with you that should someone wish to have "OpenStack Certified" training that there should be rules governing such usage.  We do need to agree whether or not training certification is a mission the foundation should pursue or not.  Are there good examples in the open source community we believe we should emulate?
From: "Randy L. Bias" <randyb at cloudscaling.com>
Date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 9:46 PM
To: Tristan Goode <tristan at aptira.com>
Cc: "foundation-board at lists.openstack.org" <foundation-board at lists.openstack.org>
Subject: Re: [Foundation Board] Use of the word "certified" and guidelines around use of words like "official"
I generally concur and I think this is a good catch.  Clearly the discussion isn't about RAX, but what the interim strategy is while things like what "certification" means are ironed out. 
However, I do want to point out that it might take a while to resolve that issue and I'm inclined to avoid retarding the adoption of OpenStack.  Is it possible to allow for some kind of interim usage in a way that allows for revisiting this later with folks already using "certified" and also closing the door on potential abusers in the short term?  We need to be shown taking some control of this, but I suspect that it will take a while for definitions.


Co-Founder & CTO, Cloudscaling
+1 (415) 787-2253 [78-SCALE for SMS or voice] 
TWITTER: twitter.com/randybias
LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/in/randybias
On Oct 9, 2012, at 6:12 PM, Tristan Goode <tristan at aptira.com> wrote:

Dear Board,
I am very concerned at the use of the word "certified" in recent media releases by Rackspace for their training offerings, and most recently in this mail out below.
I've no doubt Rackspace's course is worthy of being OpenStack certified when there is such a thing, but until there is formality around this then I do not believe anyone should use this word or any other word that implies endorsement from OpenStack even loosely (as this is in some contexts) to describe any commercial offering.
With no formal certification guidelines in place or policy on use of such words, this has a real danger of de-valuing the OpenStack brand if (when) less reputable organisations or basically anyone gratuitously use the word. My reading of media releases around this in the last few days is that media have picked up the Rackspace offering as OpenStack certified.
After mentioning this to Jonathan several days ago to his credit "certified" was removed from parts of the Rackspace web site, but not all, and today this email below has gone out to the conference attendee list.
After following up with Jonathan yesterday he advised:
'Theoretically, this has always been an allowed usage under the "built for OpenStack" license, which Rackspace among others has signed up for (http://www.openstack.org/brand/built-for-openstack-logo/). The requirement is to provide a clear indication that the product is a company's offering FOR OpenStack, not FROM OpenStack (i.e. Foundation).'
This is far too loose and allows anyone use of such terms, the result is that OpenStack "certified" training soon means nothing.
I'm 100% for having officially certified courses asap. Perhaps a solution is that any company that wishes to have certified or official or similar (Rackspace, Hastexo, Mirantis immediately come to mind) submits their curriculum and clear deliverables to a review panel of some type drawn from the Membership? This would ensure that OpenStack people get training that they want and the certified term is used appropriately.
Until then statements like below should not be permissible and should probably be retracted. By acting on this decisively I see the Foundation truly protecting the brand that is OpenStack.
I welcome your discussion.
From: Rackspace - OpenStack Summit Sponsor [mailto:redcarpetevents at rackspace.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, 10 October 2012 11:11 AM
To: tristan at aptira.com
Subject: Launch Your Career Into The Clouds
Dear OpenStack Summit Attendee --
Rackspace has a lot going on during the upcoming OpenStack Summit and we hope you will join us for our lively- and always informative- conference sessions.
Keynote and Sessions for Wednesday, October 17:
9:30 a.m.
KEYNOTE: Running the World's Largest Open Cloud (Troy Toman, Senior Director of Engineering for Cloud Compute)
11:00 a.m.
This is Your Career. This is Your Career on OpenStack. (Niki Acosta, Product Evangelist)
11:50 a.m.
Big Data on OpenStack: A Rackspace Use Case (Natasha Gajic, Enterprise, Business Intelligence Lead)
Stop by the Rackspace booth to talk all things open cloud with our team of experts. And while you're there, learn how you can accelerate your career by becoming one of the first Certified OpenStack technicians. OpenStack public training classes are now posted at www.rackspacetraining.com. Certification exams begin in December so be sure to stop by the Rackspace booth to get more information.
And of course it wouldn't be a Rackspace-sponsored summit without an evening of fun to top it all off...
Reach for the Clouds Rooftop Party
Tuesday October 16
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Altitude Sky Lounge
Catch a ride to the celebration via the complimentary Rackspace pedicabs outside the Hyatt from 5:45 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. or enjoy the short walk to the lounge located atop the Marriott Gaslamp.
See you soon,
Your Friends At Rackspace
This email was sent to OpenStack Summit attendees by Rackspace, a sponsor of the event.
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