Friday, February 3, 2012

Openstack and Pizza !!!

Or ... some thoughts about organizing OpenStack Meetups


On February 1st I've had to joy (and hassle) to coordinate another Boston OpenStack meetup. This time, using Harvard facilities, which are quite different than our previous venue - suffice to say that Harvard is very different than the Lexington Historical Society (you don't need to know where the vacuum is). But I digress.

If you were in the room, you know all about the value of a community, so skip ahead to the "closing notes" for links to preso's, future events, acknowledgements and such.

What I find exciting about open source projects is the sense of shared mission and destiny. An open source project fails or succeeds to a large extent based on how well it builds a community.  To be successful a project needs to create a dedicated community of users, developers, vendors and service providers.

Users have real problems to solve. Real use cases, real businesses, real money.
Developers want to write cool code, which solves real problems and delights users.
Vendors want to solve the "interesting" problems that address the concerns of paying customers that benefit from the "special sauce" vendors bring to the table (as opposed to table-stakes features and capabilities )
Service provides perfect their delivery capabilities and differentiate on customer service and operational excellence.

To be successful... each constituent of the community needs to see the value derived from the community, to justify the investment in the success of the community.

OpenStack in particular, is great about bringing the above stakeholders together twice yearly for Expo / design summit (next one is in April - be there or be square !). Its a great forum for the community to interact. Developers hash out issues. Users provide unfiltered descriptions of their problems looking for solutions. You get the drift. But I digress again - where's the pizza?

Pizza brings all the stakeholders above, into a room, to share in between design summits.Share the good, the bad, and the ugly. The capabilities that are there, and the ones that are missing (and the ones that are redundant...)

In our meetup tonight (yup... here's the pizza) we've had folks for major vendors (can't drop names here... but my whole team from Dell was present, as well as other 2,3 and 4 letter companies); Service providers; Users  and obviously some developers (me included). The "formal agenda" revolved around Quantum and where is the OpenStack Foundation headed.


Closing notes

David Lapsley's presentation, introducing OpenStack's Quantum Network-as-a-Service can be found here.
The discussion about the OpenStack foundation was... a discussion, hence no preso. A few resources are available online:

While we didn't officially talk about Crowbar (my project) this time around, there where quite a few questions and comments about that. Crowbar is our approach to apply DevOps principles to deploying OpenStack. You can find the code on github. Make sure to check the wiki and Rob Hirschfeld's crowbar posts (but poke around.. there's lots of good cloudiness there).

Some of the ideas for future meetups we discussed included (at the end of the meetup and in 1-1 conversations):
  • Hacking on OpenStack - getting started
  • Hackday for Essex - once the Essex -4 milestone is ready (feature frozen) lets start working deployments
  • Putting OpenStack to use - users (potential and current) discussing how/what/if is Openstack best applied to.
If you have additional suggestions, would want to participate in the forums or events - please contact me (simplest method is via the Meetup Page Contact Us link. Sorry - it does require you to signup to meetup). 

Last but not least, thanks to the folks that help sponsor the evening:
  • I work for Dell... and not only do I spend working hours (in between coding mini-vans) organizing this meetup, Dell also flips the bill for logistics.
  • Rackspace fed us with delicious pizza and salad, and sent us some cool T-shirt explaining how free is OpenStack ("Free as in Beer Speech & Love"), that definitely stand out in a crowd
  • The School of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard provided the space. Specifically IACS - Institute for Applied Computational Science. (Thanks to Tricia at the Student Affairs office for being a great team to work with!). Oh yes - SEAS offers some interesting courses (some available remotely online), and events worth checking.
See you all at the next event !