OpenStack development is organized around a mission, a
and a set of principles.
Project teams apply for inclusion, and the
Technical Committee (TC),
elected by all OpenStack contributors, judges whether that team work helps
with the OpenStack mission and follows the OpenStack development principles.
If it does, the team is considered part of the OpenStack development
community, and its work is considered an official OpenStack project.
The main effect of being official is that it places the team work under the
oversight of the Technical Committee. In exchange, recent contributors to that
team are considered
Active Technical Contributors
(ATCs), which means they can participate in the vote to elect the Technical
When you want to create a new official OpenStack project, the first thing to
check is whether you're doing it for the right reasons. In particular, there
is no need to be an official OpenStack project to benefit from our outstanding
project infrastructure (git repositories, Gerrit code reviews, cloud-powered
testing and gating). There is also no need to place your project under the
OpenStack Technical Committee oversight to be allowed to work on something
related to OpenStack. And the ATC status no longer brings additional benefits,
beyond the TC election voting rights.
From a development infrastructure standpoint, OpenStack provides the
governance, the systems and the neutral asset lock to create open
collaboration grounds. On those grounds multiple organizations and
individuals can cooperate on a level playing field, without one
organization in particular owning a given project.
So if you are not interested in having new organizations contribute to your
project, or would prefer to retain full control over it, it probably makes
sense to not ask to become an official OpenStack project. Same if you
want to follow slightly-different principles, or want to relax certain
community rules, or generally would like to behave a lot differently than other
Still with me ? So... What would be a good project team to propose for
inclusion ? The most important aspect is that the topic you're working on
must help further the OpenStack Mission, which is to produce a ubiquitous
Open Source Cloud Computing platform that is easy to use, simple to implement,
interoperable between deployments, works well at all scales, and meets the
needs of users and operators of both public and private clouds.
It is also very important that the team seamlessly merges into the OpenStack
Community. It must adhere to the
and follow the OpenStack
The Technical Committee made a number of choices to avoid fragmenting the
community into several distinct silos. All projects use Gerrit to propose
changes, IRC to communicate, a set of
approved programming languages...
Those rules are not set in stone, but we are unlikely to change them just
to facilitate the addition of one given new project team. All those
requirements are summarized in the
new project requirements
The new team must also know its way around our various systems, development
tools and processes. Ideally the team would be formed from existing OpenStack
community members; if not the
Project Team Guide
is there to help you getting up to speed.
OK, you're now ready to make the plunge. One question you may ask yourself
is whether you should contribute your project to an existing project team,
or ask to become a new official project team.
Since the recent
project structure reform
(a.k.a. the "big tent"), work in OpenStack is organized around groups of
people, rather than the general topic of your work. So you don't have to ask
the Neutron team to adopt your project just because it is about networking.
The real question is more... is it the same team working on both
projects ? Does the existing team feel like they can vouch for this new
work, and/or are willing to adapt their team scope to include it ? Having
two different groups under a single team and PTL only creates extra
governance problems. So if the teams working on it are distinct enough,
then the new project should probably be filed separately.
Another question you may ask yourself is whether alternate implementations
of the same functionality are OK. Is competition allowed between official
projects ? On one hand competition means dilution of effort, so you want
to minimize it. On the other you don't want to close evolutionary paths,
so you need to let alternate solutions grow. The Technical Committee answer
to that is: alternate solutions are allowed, as long as they are not
gratuitously competing. Competition must be between two different
technical approaches, not two different organizations or egos. Cooperation
must be considered first. This is all the more important the deeper you go
in the stack: it is obviously a lot easier to justify competition on an
OpenStack installer (which consumes all other projects), than on AuthN/AuthZ
(which all other projects rely on).
Let's do this ! How to proceed ? The first and hardest part is to pick a
name. We want to avoid having to rename the project later due to trademark
infringement, once it has built some name recognition. A good rule of thumb
is that if the name sounds good, it's probably already used somewhere.
Obscure made-up names, or word combinations are less likely to be a registered
trademark than dictionary words (or person names). Online searches can help
weeding out the worst candidates. Please be good citizens and also avoid
collision with other open source project names, even if they are not
Step 2, you need to create the project on OpenStack infrastructure. See the
for instructions, and reach out on the #openstack-infra IRC channel if you
The final step is to propose a change to the
repository, to add your project team to the
file. That will serve as the official request to the Technical Committee,
so be sure to include a very informative commit message detailing how well
you fill the
new projects requirements.
Good examples of that would be
or this one.
The timing of the request is important. In order to be able to assess
whether the new team behaves like the rest of the OpenStack community,
the Technical Committee usually requires that the new team operates on
OpenStack infrastructure (and collaborates on IRC and the mailing-list)
for a few months.
We also tend to freeze new team applications during the second part of
the development cycles, as we start preparing for the release and the PTG.
So the optimal timing would be to set up your project on OpenStack
infrastructure around the middle of one cycle, and propose for official
inclusion at the start of the next cycle (before the first development
milestone). Release schedules are published
That's it !
I hope this article will help you avoid the most obvious traps
in your way to become an official OpenStack project. Feel free to reach out
to me (or any other
Technical Committee member)
if you have questions or would like extra advice !
On several occasions over the last months, I heard people exposing truths
about the OpenStack Technical Committee. However, those positions were often
inaccurate or incomplete. Arguably we are not communicating enough: governance
changes and resolutions that are brought to the TC are just approved or
rejected. That binary answer is generally not the whole story, and with only
the headline, it is easy to read too much in a past decision. We should do a
better job at communicating beyond that simple answer when the topic is more
complex, and at continuously explaining the role and limits of the TC.
Hopefully this blogpost will help, by busting some of those myths.
Myth #1: "the TC doesn't want Go in OpenStack"
This one comes from the recent rejection of a resolution proposing to add
golang to the list of approved languages, to support merging the hummingbird
feature branch into Swift's master branch. A more accurate way to present
that decision would be to say that a (short) majority of the TC members was not
supporting the addition of golang at that time and under the proposed
conditions. In summary it was more of a "not now, not this way" than a "never".
There were a number of reasons for this decision, but the crux was: adding a
language creates fragmentation and a support cost for all of the OpenStack
community, so we need to make sure "OpenStack" as a whole is successful with
it, beyond any specific project. That means for example having a clear plan
for integrating Go within all our standing processes, while trying to prevent
duplication of effort or gratuitous rewrites. The discussion was actually
recently restarted by Flavio in
this change. We'll need
resources to make this a success, so if you care, please jump in to help.
Myth #2: "the TC doesn't like competition with existing projects"
I'm not exactly sure where this one comes from. I can't think of any specific
TC decision that would explain it. Historically, back when we had programs,
a given team would own a given problem space and could essentially lock
alternatives out. But the Big Tent project structure reform changed that,
allowing competition to happen within our community.
Yes, we still want to encourage cooperation wherever it's possible, so we
still have a requirement which says "where it makes sense, the project
cooperates with existing projects rather than gratuitously competing or
reinventing the wheel". But as long as the new project is different or
presents a different value proposal, it should be fair game. For example we
accepted the Monasca team in the same problem space as the Telemetry team.
And we have several teams working on various deployment recipes.
That said, having competitive solutions in OpenStack on key problem spaces
(like base compute or networking services) creates interesting second-order
questions in terms of what is "core", trademark usage and interoperability.
Those are arguably more downstream concerns than upstream concerns, but that
explains why the deeper you go, the more difficult the community discussion
is likely to be.
Myth #3: "the TC does not set any direction"
There are multiple variants on that one, from "OpenStack needs a benevolent
dictator" to "a camel is a horse designed by a committee". The idea behind it
is that the TC needs to have a very opinionated plan for OpenStack and somehow
force everyone in our community to follow it. Part of this myth is trying to
apply single-vendor software development theory to an open collaboration, and
misunderstanding how other large open source projects (like the Linux kernel)
While the TC members are all well-respected in our community, we can't
unilaterally decide everything for 2500+ developers from 300+ different
organizations, and expect them all to execute The Plan. What the TC can do,
however, is to define the mission, provide an environment, set principles,
enforce common practices, and arbitrate conflicts. In painting terms, the TC
provides the frame, the subject of the painting, a color palette and the
techniques that can be used. But it doesn't paint. Painting is done at each
project team level.
In this cycle, the TC started to drive some simple cross-community goals. The
idea is to collectively make visible progress on a given topic over the course
of a release cycle, to pay back technical debt or to implement a simple feature
across all of OpenStack projects. But this is done as a goal the community
agrees to work on, rather than a top-down mandate.
Myth #4: "the TC, due to the Big Tent, prevents proper focus"
This one is interesting, and I think its roots lie in some misunderstanding of
open source community dynamics. If you consider a finite set of resources and
a zero-sum-game community, then of course adding more projects results in less
resources being dedicated to "important projects". But an open community like
OpenStack is not a finite set of resources. The people and the organizations
in the OpenStack community work and cooperate on a number of projects. Before
the big tent, some of those would not be considered part of the OpenStack
projects, despite helping with the OpenStack mission and following the
OpenStack development principles, and therefore essentially being developed
by the OpenStack community.
Considering more (or less) projects as being part of our community doesn't
decrease (or increase) focus on "important projects". It's up to each
organization in OpenStack to focus on the set of projects it considers
important. For more on that, go read Ed Leafe's
brilliant blogpost, he expressed
it better than I can. Of course there are some efforts (like packaging)
where adding more projects results in diluting focus. But with every added
project comes new blood in our community (rather than artificially keeping it
out), and some of that new blood ends up helping on those efforts. It's not
a zero-sum game, and the big tent makes sure we are open to new ways of
achieving the OpenStack mission and have an inclusive and welcoming community.
This week we are renewing 6 seats
in the 13-member OpenStack Technical Committee. This election has attracted
a large number of candidates, which is a great sign that people care about
the Technical Committee. At the same time, there is a lot of misconceptions
in our community about what the TC is for, what it can or cannot do, and the
overlap with other groups. I'll try to clarify that in this post.
A misleading name
Part of the reason why there are so many misconceptions about the role of the
TC is that its name is pretty misleading. The Technical Committee is not
primarily technical: most of the issues that the TC tackles are open source
project governance issues. The TC is not really a committee either: it is a
group of elected people who will vote on resolutions and changes that are
proposed and which affect OpenStack as a whole. In the US, it is closer to
the Supreme Court than to anything else.
The primary role of the TC is to act as the final decision stage when it comes
to decision-making in the OpenStack open source project. It is extremely
important in an open source project to have a "bucket stops here" body that is
empowered to make decisions for the project if consensus and agreement cannot
be reached elsewhere -- otherwise it risks complete stand-still. I have been
involved in projects which were stuck in such governance grey area, and it
is a pretty ugly situation. It's interesting to note that the mere existence
of the final decision-making body is enough to achieve consensus at the lower
levels: two teams will prefer to find agreement between themselves rather
than call for final arbitration by the TC. This is a feature, not a bug.
An evolving mission
The mission of the TC is to lead the development of "OpenStack". As OpenStack
evolved into one framework with a lot of collaborating components, each of
which developed by project teams with their own governance, the mission of
the TC also evolved. Those days we focus on the "OpenStack" experience. What
does it mean to be an OpenStack project ? What does it imply in terms of
development practices, general principles, common goals, cooperation, minimal
QA or user experience ? Is this new group applying to become an official
OpenStack project team following enough of those rules to be considered "one
of us" ?
Some people would like the TC to single-handedly solve upgrades, scalability,
interoperability or end user experience. Some other people would like the
TC to let the individual project teams do as they want. Reality is, neither
of those extremes are likely to happen. The TC is just 13 (usually busy)
people, they can't solve all the issues in OpenStack by themselves. They are
elected because we trust them to make the right decisions for OpenStack, not
because they are the ultimate 100x engineers who can fix everything. On the
other hand, the TC is not powerless: by continuously refining what it means to
be an "OpenStack project", it can influence OpenStack project teams to address
the right topics. We did that through assert tags, which encouraged teams to
improve their upgrade story or adopt a sane feature deprecation policy. We'll
do that through release cycle goals, to drive visible improvements across
all the components in OpenStack.
This is also why the TC needs all the help it can get. I'm excited we now have
the Architecture workgroup,
an open group of people interested in addressing long-standing architecture
issues in OpenStack as a whole. I'm thrilled that we have a
an open group of people encouraging leaders in OpenStack to adopt Servant
Leadership practices and tools. We are electing 13 members to vote and make
the final calls, but all the ideas don't have to come from those 13 members.
If you're a candidate and you're not elected, it doesn't prevent you from
working on governance problems and propose changes.
So... If you are an eligible voter, please take the time to read the candidates
platform emails and vote. Whoever gets elected, they will need the legitimacy
that only a good turnout in elections can give them. And if you are a candidate
and don't get elected, please consider joining those open workgroups, and
propose governance changes -- keeping "OpenStack" together is definitely not
a 13-people task.
I was recently privately asked how I expected the split of the current
OpenStack Design Summit into two different events to enhance the overall
OpenStack development process. Here is the answer I gave...
We are working on splitting the "Design Summit" into a more open
requirements-gathering and feedback forum at the Summit on one side,
and a separated event for project team members on the other side. I expect
this change will greatly enhance the development process, for the following
Key upstream developers and PTLs were too busy during the Summit week
to actually watch and listen. Having them more available during the Summit
week (where all of our community is present) should help a lot in getting
the right priorities across. The feedback sessions were also not very well
balanced (being organized as part of the upstream developer-centric event
called the "Design Summit"). Making it more like a regular Summit event will
help make it a neutral exchange forum between community peers (rather than
dev kings listening to grievances in their throne hall).
Project teams were lacking time to work together as a team: building
trust, organizing the work, agreeing on priorities and assigning tasks. The
current "Design Summit" doesn't work so well for that because it doubles as
a general forum and a lot of people outside the team members were attending
the sessions. There were also too many distractions to hang out between team
members and build social bonds. This is why a lot of teams organized specific,
separated events (the "midcycles"): to get more time together. The new
"Project Teams Gathering" event is all about providing that time to work
together as a team.
Partly as a result of separate midcycle events, project teams operated in
silos and were unlikely to be exposed or take on critical cross-project work.
They would also skip the cross-project workshops at the Design Summit since so
much is happening at the same time. The new event should provide specific time
for cross-project work, without anything running against it. It should
encourage team members from a vertical team (Nova, Neutron...) to join and
participate in horizontal / cross-project efforts (QA, Infra, technology
convergence, release theme...), to break out of their silo and become true
The timing of the "Design Summit" event was inefficient. It was too late
to organize work, too early to get feedback on the recent release. By splitting
the events, we put the main Summit further away from the release -- giving time
for packagers, deployers, solutions builders to build a product and start
experimenting with the new release. The quality of the feedback we get should
therefore improve a lot. It also lets us put the new event closer to the start
of the development cycle (closer to the previous cycle feature freeze),
ensuring there is less "down" time between cycles (almost two months in the
So, in summary, I expect the new split event format to solve long-standing
issues that made the "Design Summit" no longer efficient. It should increase
our productivity, but also greatly improve the feedback loops between
downstream and upstream.
In a global and virtual community, high-bandwidth face-to-face time is
essential. This is why we made the OpenStack Design Summits an integral
part of our processes from day 0. Those were set at the beginning of each
of our development cycles to help set goals and organize the work for the
upcoming 6 months. At the same time and in the same location, a more
traditional conference was happening, ensuring a lot of interaction between
the upstream (producers) and downstream (consumers) parts of our community.
This setup, however, has a number of issues. For developers first: the
"conference" part of the common event got bigger and bigger and it is
difficult to focus on upstream work (and socially bond with your teammates)
with so much other commitments and distractions. The result is that our
design summits are a lot less productive than they used to be, and we
organize other events ("midcycles") to fill our focus and small-group
socialization needs. The timing of the event (a couple of weeks after the
previous cycle release) is also suboptimal: it is way too late to gather any
sort of requirements and priorities for the already-started new cycle, and
also too late to do any sort of work planning (the cycle work started almost
2 months ago).
But it's not just suboptimal for developers. For contributing companies,
flying all their developers to expensive cities and conference hotels so
that they can attend the Design Summit is pretty costly, and the goals of
the summit location (reaching out to users everywhere) do not necessarily
align with the goals of the Design Summit location (minimize and balance
travel costs for existing contributors). For the companies that build products
and distributions on top of the recent release, the timing of the common event
is not so great either: it is difficult to show off products based on the
recent release only two weeks after it's out. The summit date is also too
early to leverage all the users attending the summit to gather feedback on
the recent release -- not a lot of people would have tried upgrades by
summit time. Finally a common event is also suboptimal for the events
organization : finding venues that can accommodate both events is becoming
Time is ripe for a change. After Tokyo, we at the Foundation have been
considering options on how to evolve our events to solve those issues. This
proposal is the result of this work. There is no perfect solution here (and
this is still work in progress), but we are confident that this strawman
solution solves a lot more problems than it creates, and balances the needs
of the various constituents of our community.
The idea would be to split the events. The first event would be for upstream
technical contributors to OpenStack. It would be held in a simpler, scaled-back
setting that would let all OpenStack project teams meet in separate rooms,
but in a co-located event that would make it easy to have ad-hoc cross-project
discussions. It would happen closer to the centers of mass of contributors,
in less-expensive locations.
More importantly, it would be set to happen a couple of weeks before the
previous cycle release. There is a lot of overlap between cycles. Work on a
cycle starts at the previous cycle feature freeze, while there is still 5
weeks to go. Most people switch full-time to the next cycle by RC1.
Organizing the event just after that time lets us organize the work and
kickstart the new cycle at the best moment. It also allows us to use our time
together to quickly address last-minute release-critical issues if such
The second event would be the main downstream business conference, with
high-end keynotes, marketplace and breakout sessions. It would be organized
two or three months after the release, to give time for all downstream
users to deploy and build products on top of the release. It would be the best
time to gather feedback on the recent release, and also the best time to have
strategic discussions: start gathering requirements for the next cycle,
leveraging the very large cross-section of all our community that attends
To that effect, we'd still hold a number of strategic planning sessions at
the main event to gather feedback, determine requirements and define overall
cross-project themes, but the session format would not require all project
contributors to attend. A subset of contributors who would like to participate
in these sessions can collect and relay feedback to other team members for
implementation (similar to the Ops midcycle). Other contributors will also
want to get more involved in the conference, whether that's giving
presentations or hearing user stories.
The split should ideally reduce the needs to organize separate in-person
mid-cycle events. If some are still needed, the main conference venue and
time could easily be used to provide space for such midcycle events (given
that it would end up happening in the middle of the cycle).
In practice, the split means that we need to stagger the events and cycles.
We have a long time between Barcelona and the Q1 Summit in the US, so the
idea would be to use that long period to insert a smaller cycle (Ocata) with
a release early March, 2017 and have the first specific contributors event
at the start of the P cycle, mid-February, 2017. With the already-planned
events in 2016 and 2017 it is the earliest we can make the transition. We'd
have a last, scaled-down design summit in Barcelona to plan the shorter cycle.
With that setup, we hope that we can restore the productivity and focus of
the face-to-face contributors gathering, reduce the need to have midcycle
events for social bonding and team building, keep the cost of getting all
contributors together once per cycle under control, maintain the feedback
loops with all the constituents of the OpenStack community at the main event,
and better align the timing of each event with the reality of the release
NB: You will note that I did not name the separated event "Design Summit" --
that is because Design will now be split into feedback/requirements
gathering (the why at the main event) and execution planning and
kickstarting (the how at the contributors-oriented event), so that name
doesn't feel right anymore. We can bikeshed on the name for the new event
This was also posted to the openstack-dev ML:
please comment and follow-up there if you have thoughts to share.