I am one of the group of people who called upon Rackspace to put OpenStack under a foundation because I thought it was the right way to do an open source project that stays fair to the entire community. So, when Rackspace announced OpenStack Foundation, I got very excited. But I didn’t hear much about the foundation in the following months and when I wrote about OpenStack after the CloudConnect week, I highlighted my expectations from OpenStack
Two things I would expect to definitely happen this year
- Full maturity of the compute code
- Keys to the doors of the foundation handed over completely to the community
Clearly, I was getting a bit worried and wanted the foundation to take control of the project as soon as possible. Part of my worries is due to the fact that there are too many competing interests out there and any mishandling could lead to a fork in the project.
After a brief silence, there appears to be some activity on the Foundation front and there was an announcement in the mailing list recently on the structure of the foundation
On the Board structure the most consist feedback we heard was to make it easier for a more diverse set of organizations to be involved in the Board. To make it more accessible, we have created a new membership class: Associate Members. Associate Members would pay significantly lower fees, adjusted for company size, and as a class elect one person to the Board for each Strategic seat. Individual Members would also elect one person to the Board for each Strategic seat. The new Board structure would therefore be 1/3 elected by Individual Members, 1/3 elected by Associate Members, and 1/3 appointed by Strategic Members. The wiki was updated to reflect this: http://wiki.openstack.org/Governance/Foundation/Structure
If you thought it is a great news, here is the problem (highlighted by Joshua McKenty of Piston Cloud and I encourage you to read his full mail). The proposed model creates a class system where large companies with money can get a separate tier of membership with an ability to elect 1/3 of the Board. Technically, it means handful of companies with money can elect 1/3 of the board while smaller companies who pay less money get to elect another 1/3 and individual members (with free membership) gets to elect the remaining 1/3. As Joshua points out, it may be easy to manage but it doesn’t fit the spirit of an open source community project. Just because they belong to the 1% doesn’t mean they get to have a much significant control over the 99%. It has to be a fair deal and such a class system will be hazardous to the OpenStack community in the long run. More importantly, it will discourage startups to spring up around OpenStack community. Imagine a guy with a great idea going to a VC and saying “hey my idea around OpenStack is great but the only risk is that those guys with money can easily overshadow what I am saying in the community”. Do you think it is a winning proposal?
This kind of class system should go and meritocracy has to be completely embraced for the project to succeed. I have great trust in Rackspace and OpenStack community and I hope they take Joshua’s objections seriously and correct the wrong. Many of the rich companies in the OpenStack ecosystem may not understand the Open Source community philosophy right but I am pretty confident that Rackspace can get it right and they will make sure that the structure is fair for everybody. I am going to keep a close eye on the happenings on the foundation front. Let us see how things progress.