OpenStack steps towards its Foundation future

Rackspace seeking discussion, feedback on mission, structure

Rackspace is actively transitioning the governance of OpenStack to a new non-profit foundation, and today took another step forward in that mission with a webinar to discuss the recently posted mission draft for the new foundation.

The OpenStack cloud hosting project announced in October that it would be moving to a foundation form of governance sometime this year. This news was welcomed by many in the open source community, who--despite the fact that in OpenStack copyrights are kept by the contributors, the project is under the Apache Software License 2.0, and the project is governed by a board with eight out of twelve elected seats--were still worried about the future of OpenStack.

Currently all of the project's copyrights and trademarks are owned by OpenStack, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rackspace Hosting.

The draft mission statement, which officially identifies the new group the OpenStack Foundation, cites OpenStack's mission as "To produce the ubiquitous Open Source cloud computing platform that will meet the needs of public and private cloud providers regardless of size, by being simple to implement and massively scalable."

The OpenStack Foundation's mission is broader, and really what you might expect from the proposed organization.

"The OpenStack Foundation is an independent body providing shared resources to help achieve the OpenStack Mission by Protecting, Empowering, and Promoting OpenStack software and the community around it, including users, developers and the entire ecosystem."

The Thursday-evening webinar was moderated by Rackspace VP of Business & Corporate Development Mark Collier and Jonathan Bryce, founder of The Rackspace Cloud and member of the OpenStack Project Policy Board (PPB). The 12-member PPB currently manages OpenStack, with four of the twelve board positions are appointed by Rackspace (and currently only two of those seats are held by Rackspace employees), and the other eight positions elected by the community at large.

The webinar focused on the draft of the mission for the new OpenStack Foundation, and did not delve into the actual structure or governance of the Foundation. A tentative schedule on the OpenStack wiki, however, revealed that after a revised Foundation mission document will be posted on the week of January 23rd, OpenStack will post a draft of the structure plan on the week of January 30th.

Collier confirmed the expedited plan during the first minutes of the meeting. "This will not be a twelve-month timeline," he told attendees.

Both Collier and Bryce emphasized during the course of the meeting that Rackspace wants to be very deliberate in its creation of the new Foundation.

"The Foundation needs to be an organization that represents the interests of the project constituents well," Bryce said.

Interestingly, Collier said the mission statement of the OpenStack Foundation was influenced by the mission statement of another such organization.

"The Linux Foundation's mission was a inspiration for the theme of the mission statement," Collier said. Some elements of the Linux Foundation's mission statement fit well for the OpenStack Foundation, he said.

During the meeting, the two Rackspace managers highlighted the mission documentation and its specific goals. One goal thought to be critical by Collier was to ensure compatibility among OpenStack clouds. This might include, for example, shared resources for testing hosted by the Foundation.

After reviewing the mission and structure documents, the elements will be in place to actually get the OpenStack Foundation going.

"Once we get the draft nailed down, the lawyers will come in and hammer out the actual legal documents that we will use… to form a functioning legal entity," Bryce said.

Based on Rackspace's public statements, it's clear OpenStack is on its way to a community-based governance model, and that governance will be happening sooner rather than later.

A second webinar session on the mission draft will be held Friday, January 13 at 1000 EST.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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