Last weekend there was an uproar in the cloud community over a post made by Shanley Kane, geek in the valley working for Basho. The post is now removed from her Github account but it was apparently forked by Justin Sheehy and it is missing too. Even more surprisingly, it is also gone from Google cache. However, I do have a screen shot (posted below) which clearly shows some troubling issues happening around OpenStack elections.
After OpenStack finished the logistics for OpenStack Foundation (previous CloudAve coverage), elections are going to be held for the board to choose representatives from individual members. As I wrote earlier, the board will have representatives from both the corporate members and individual members. Individual members are those individuals who are “interested” in OpenStack and can join by signing up here. It appears Shanley wanted to contest as an individual member (keep in mind she is NOT contesting as a Basho representative) and she was allegedly threatened by one of the corporate partner member through email. This is plain wrong on the part of the corporate partner member and illegal according to OpenStack bylaws. Any member of open source community should be outraged by this act and this incident raises some troubling questions. I want to talk about it here.
- First, and foremost, this is ethically wrong and illegal (if not from the State/Federal laws, at least from the POV of OpenStack bylaws). How can a corporate sponsor member dare to force any individual member to opt out of elections? Joshua McKenty of Piston Cloud and OpenStack promised to take swift action after talking to their lawyers. I waited for two days as Joshua wanted time with the lawyer and want to know the status of their action. I do understand that they cannot do much unless Shanley decides to cooperate with them but I would still like OpenStack Foundation to address their action on the now withdrawn public complaint. As I was writing this post, I heard from OpenStack that they have put three volunteer election inspectors who are participating in the process from HP, Piston and SUSE. This is definitely a good move but it would have been even better if they had asked three independent people to oversee the elections. That would have given them more transparency karma.
- Till last weekend, the nomination process was secretive and we cannot see who nominated whom in the process. Now they have made it open and we can find out the names of people who nominate candidates for OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors. The biggest troubling question for me is why is OpenStack project default towards secrecy and closed door decision making always? Why can’t they be more open? I have been arguing in favor of corporate sponsorship to open source software fending off any criticism about it. Why can’t these corporates learn that the only way to earn community trust is by being pro-actively open.
- I am disappointed with the way the entire episode was botched up in the weekend with an exposure and eventual withdrawal. It only gave an opportunity to anti-OpenStack shenanigans, a term I use for people whose entire professional career depends on OpenStack project’s failure, to have their field day pee-ing on OpenStack.
- Lastly, why are so many non OpenStackers, a term I use for folks who haven’t contributed to the OpenStack project in any meaningful way, jumping into the elections? I applaud OpenStack’s effort to lower the barrier for participation but I would expect that meritocracy plays a critical role in selecting people to the board. I do agree that meritocracy will play a key role when votes are polled but the overhead caused by “casual participants” will only hurt the project. I hope they do something about it before the next elections.
I am sure OpenStack project will get over this episode and focus on building a reliable cloud infrastructure platform. It is a wakeup call for openness on all sides, the OpenStack project side, participants side and, even, on the anti-OpenStack shenanigans side. OpenStack project is not a kids’ toy #justsayin
Update: A paragraph above was altered as people might misinterpret my nuance to vilify the whistle blower.