Since my first OpenStack Summit back in San Diego in 2012, there has been one unique defining characteristic that made the event different than any other in the technology world – the event was where developers and users all gathered in the same place.
The OpenStack Summit approach included the Design Summit, bringing in the people actually building OpenStack – not just those that sell it.
But as it turns out the model wasn’t working for developers (though it worked well for this journalist..), and the upcoming OpenStack Barcelona event will be the last ‘classic’ Summit. Starting in 2017, the Design Summit will be divided out into two events – the general forum and then a more-developer focused event called the Project Teams Gathering. My initial fear about the bifurcation of the OpenStack Summit model is that the developers wouldn’t be needed at the event. As such, without developers, OpenStack Summit could potentially slide down the same path as say VMworld and just became a showcase for vendors to sell their products.
Thankfully, the OpenStack Foundation and its leadership understand what makes the Summit special and they aren’t booting developers.
“Upstream developers are still very much needed at the main Summit,” an FAQ on the new system explains. “The Summit is (and always was) where the feedback loop happens. All project teams need to be represented there, to engage in planning, collect the feedback on their project, participate in cross-community discussions, reach out to new people and onboard new developers. ”
The Project Team Gathering piece to me really just looks like it will slot into what had previously been known ad the mid-cycle design sprint. But here’s the catch, the whole schedule and model for when OpenStack releases and Summits occur is changing too.
In the past, an OpenStack Summit occurred a few weeks after a release, but that’s not going to be the case moving forward.
“So we’re making adjustments to create time between the OpenStack Conference and the release of the software.,” the OpenStack PTG page explains. “Barcelona (October 2016) will be the last time the software is released, the conference is held, and the new version is planned all in the same window. Going forward, the releases will happen months before each summit. “
Functionally what this means is there will now be time in between an OpenStack release and the time, the next release’s development starts.
This in my view is a classic project management style, but fundamentally wrong when it comes to the model of development pioneered by the Linux kernel. With the Linux kernel. development is always happening in a robust agile while. This added new period to gather requirements, define cross project themes is an interesting idea but it will slow down the process significantly and is anti-thetical to the rapid pace of innovation that the open-source model allows.. Yes this is a more organized traditional project management approach, but i have no doubt that the initial hardship of moving to the new model will be painful to watch.
No open-source project has ever navigated a significant development shift easily and every project hits a development plateau it needs to overcome. Time will tell if the new OpenStack approach will be the right one to accelerate OpenStack for the future – or if it will slow it down such that forks (or another more agile effort) destroy it.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist