Just a year ago I had put in my name for the OpenStack Board of Directors Individual Director election. The board is divided into 8 appointed directors from Platinum member companies, 8 directors elected from within the Gold member companies, and 8 individual directors from the community.
I think last year’s election was close, or at least I fared better than I had feared I would, so I am giving it another shot this year.
I was really on the fence about it in the months leading up to the nomination period. This post is a chance for me to jot down some of my thoughts that led me to decide it was the right thing to do.
The Role of Individual Members
The individual directors are members of the Foundation and are there to represent the members of the Foundation. Foundation membership is open to all, so I see this role as being a voice of the community within the Board governance - something that I personally find really valuable and necessary for something like a non-profit, open source community Board of Directors.
As part of my involvement in the OpenStack Technical Committee over the last couple of years, one of the things I have tried to encourage is more frequent and open communication between the Board and the TC. Only through good communication between these governance groups can we really be most effective and learn from each other to best support the goals of the Foundation and the needs of the community that has grown around OpenStack, open infrastructure, and those that care about the health and availability of open options.
I feel the need to preface the next part with saying there are some really great folks on the Board of Directors now that I truly believe are doing what they think is best to support the Foundation’s mission. These folks are taking time out of their busy schedules to be a part of this and give their knowledge and expertise to help guide the Foundation. Nothing I say here should be taken as a criticism for any of the decisions that have been made or as being directed by anyone that is now or has been a part of making OpenStack what it is today.
Now in that context, here’s where I see the need for folks like me to get involved.
For some board directors, the entirety of their participation in the OpenStack community is calling in to board meetings once a quarter. Some I’m sure are actively involved in their company’s interaction with their customers and the real world issues of trying to take the output of all of this activity and making it into something that can be packaged and supported and used to address their customer’s needs. Which is HUGELY important.
But to really understand how to shape things and make things better, I think it’s also very important to understand the development community and the challenges, needs, and pressures happening there to make the right long term direction choices.
That’s the role the individual directors fill, and these eight people need to be able to bridge that gap between knowing the right things for the companies involved, the operators trying to run the software, and the users that ultimately are trying to do something bigger and more important than whatever is used to enable their infrastructure to support their activities.
Unlike company Board of Directors, open source foundation board effectiveness is limited to their influence within their own companies and making the case to others individuals and companies involved. Some of this is through financial direction of the foundation, and some of it is by being able to bring in their expertise and convince others whether certain things are the right thing to focus on for the long term success of the community.
Over the last several years I have worked in various areas of the community. I’ve been a PTL of a major component of most OpenStack clouds. I’m a core member of a few projects I feel are important to the overal success and health of the community. I’ve participated on the Technical Committee since spring of 2017. I’ve also spent time pushing a broom and taking care of some areas that no one notices until they start to smell.
I think whoever gets elected, they need to have that experience and be involved in the development of the code to be able to provide input on what is happening and how the board decisions could impact them.
I’ve also been a big supporter of the Ops Meetups, being involved in helping organize those events and participating by presenting, moderating, or helping to organize to be a productive forum for operators to share best practice and war stories and build this also important part of the community that we need to be a thriving group. As someone that has moved from more operations to more development, I have learned a tremendous amount from these folks and am in awe at the things they’ve been able to do and their dedication to OpenStack and willingness to share and learn and grow from each other.
I’ve also had the opportunity lately to get out and speak to customers. Some have been great OpenStack supporters. But perhaps the more important ones for me has been speaking to the ones that are not. It’s always hard to hear why something you’ve worked on for years isn’t good enough, or easy enough, or featureful enough to meet someone’s needs. But it’s also tremendously important to hear those things.
So my plan for being on the board is to be able to take my experiences as a developer within the community, a supporter of operators and users, and someone willing to process the criticisms of the software and feed those into the efforts and decisions made by the Board. Regardless of who is elected, these are all critical things that need a voice in those discussions.
Board Election Candidates
Like last time, the good news is there are a lot of really good candidates who have been willing to step up to this role.
Some definitely have more time spent in the community. Some likely have more experience operating an OpenStack cloud or running open infrastructure. Many probably have resumes that would put mine to shame. But I do hope I get the opportunity to be one of the eight individual directors. I do think I have a unique and important enough experience to provide an important voice within the OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors.
Please watch for ballots sent out when the election opens up January 14th. Read the candidate profiles and vote for whichever ones you think will be the right individual voices on the Board. The important thing is to participate and provide your vote to make sure we have a strong and health Board.