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OpenStack Berlin Summit 2018

Last week I attended the OpenStack summit in Berlin. Of the several summits I've attended, this one was the most laid back. I imagine other people had different experiences, but my experience involved no surprises, no scandals, I neither got yelled at nor yelled at someone, and at least so far, I'm not ill. Success!

Here are some notes I took down while waiting for my plane home. For the most part I found I spent most of my time listening: Other people said what I would have, so there was little need to butt in.

OpenStack, as a product, is healthy. Lots of organizations are using it successfully for many purposes and exploring using it for more. The concerns that people have are with getting it to work well, not getting it to work at all. Upgrades and complexity remain issues, but overall the system is becoming more manageable.

On the other hand, OpenStack as a project, is struggling in some ways. Many of the subprojects have fewer regular contributors than they would prefer and several regular contributors expressed concern they were going to be pulled onto other activities. This is even true for some of the larger and older projects like Nova. There were at least two forum sessions that touched on the need to enable more casual contribution, but these felt, to me, to be too oriented towards creating regular contributors, rather that changing things so that regular, high-attention, contribution was not the norm. Making that transition is necessary as OpenStack enters maturity but it will shake up traditional power structures a great deal.

Or we need to convince the contributing companies that make billions off open infrastructure to up their game.

OpenStack, by number of commits over a year, is still one of the largest open source projects. Something is working.

Speaking of maturity: OpenStack is now so mature the next summit will be called the Open Infrastructure Summit. This allows the event to more clearly claim to cover all the additional (and less mature) areas the Foundation encompasses.

At the board and join leadership meeting the Foundation was granted the power to move some of the new areas from a pilot phase to whatever is next. As part of that, Zuul, Kata Airship, and StarlingX have recently formalized or documented their governance structures. Notably, Zuul has avoided over-specifying things, preferring instead to let the participants drive. StarlingX, in contrast, has made some effort to ensure that some of the perceived weaknesses present in the OpenStack Technical Committee (e.g., few levers to pull with regard to technical direction) are addressed.

The recently merged Vision for OpenStack Clouds was well-received at the leadership meeting, in the sense of "it's a good idea to do this". I suspect that it will help to expose (and hopefully resolve) some of the disconnects between the strands of OpenStack which are targeting a "cloud operating system" and those targeting "infrastructure as a service". Both are valid.

One of those disconnects is the continuing need for enhanced platform awareness driven by the NFV community. EPA support creates a great deal of complexity in the OpenStack system and I remain not-fully-convinced that the relatively small performance gains are worth the years of labor to support such things in projects like nova and placement.

From discussion at the summit, it's pretty clear that the trajectory of placement is going to require some refactoring to deal with scale demands. People are talking about using single placement services for multiple clouds. There's still a lot of fairly normal web-performance related tweaking that can be done to placement to make it more zippy, so no crisis here, just work.

The venue (CityCube) was reasonable. We fit. The coffee didn't run out. I was worried that its distance from everywhere would be an issue, but the public transport in Berlin is great. On the negative side: The lunch food was dreadful.

Starting with the next summit (in Denver), the event will be immediately followed by the PTG. That will be exhausting. It will also be unfortunate to not have face to face time with collaborators more often. It would be interesting to set up more localised and grassroots hackathons. Time together not necessarily to make big plans, but rather to simply do some work together with coffee, food and a bed nearby. Who's in?

While you think about that, here's a video of a new friend I met at the Berlin Zoo the day after the summit.

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New friend

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