December 6th OpenStack Foundation Board Meeting

The OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors met for a two hour conference call yesterday. The usual disclaimer applies - this my informal recollection of the meeting. It’s not an official record. Jonathan Bryce has posted an official summary of the meeting.

Executive Director Update - 2017 Budget

After taking a roll call and approving minutes from two previous meetings, Jonathan gave a presentation on the 2017 Foundation budget.

Jonathan described a number of goals under a "One Platform" theme for 2017. He talked about how OpenStack should (a) make sure containers are first class citizens within OpenStack, (b) ensure workload portability across interoperable public and private OpenStack clouds, and (c) reinforce OpenStack position as the standard platform for NFV.

Jonathan went on to remind the board that in 2016 we had planned for a 2016 loss, the idea being to invest some of the cash reserves that the Foundation had built up in order that we could take on some new activities. In 2017, the proposal is to aim for a break even budget so as to avoid not further depleting the reserves. However, with the addition of new Gold Members, we will be able to maintain the increased investment from 2016 while still breaking even. Mark Collier noted that China is a key growth area, given that much of this new funding is from new Gold Members from China.

Jonathan then presented the budget itself, showing quarter-by-quarter income and expenses in a number of high level buckets like "Corporate Fees", "Events", "G&A", "Community Development", and "Community Infrastructure". One particularly striking aspect of OpenStack Foundation budgets is that much of the financial activity comes in Q2 and Q4 with the OpenStack Summit events in those quarters, accounting for $10.5M and $6.5M activity in Q2 and Q3 respectively out of the total $22M budget.

A discussion followed the presentation around what level of financial detail the board would like and expect to have available. Roland Chan expressed a concern that he was unable to tell how the strategic decisions the board had made were impacting the budget. For example, you could compare the 2016 and 2017 high-level budgets and make a good guess as to the impact caused by the addition of the PTG, but it would be nice to understand that in more detail. Some debate ensued as to whether this was information that was already available to the Finance Committee, whether the board should be supplied with a more detailed budget breakdown, or whether we instead need some analysis and commentary about the financial impact of key changes.

Jonathan took an action to prepare some further information which should help address the question. Alan also took an action for the Finance Committee to consider how to address this more structurally. Finally, the 2017 budget was approved by a vote of board members.

User Committee Proposal

Next up, Edgar Magana presented some proposed by-laws changes around the structure of the User Committee and related changes to the UC charter.

Since these changes had been previously discussed by the board, they were put to a vote after some short discussion. The board approved a motion to replace section 4.14 of the by-laws with the text above, along with adding a new UC member policy appendix.

OpenStack Futures

The board then turned its attention to a discussion started at the previous board meeting about the future of the project and some key questions it was felt the board should be considering.

Allison Randal lead the discussion by talking through some of the information the board had gathered in an etherpad since the previous board meeting. We had condensed the questions and concerns into four distinct areas:

  1. OpenStack and its evolving relationship with adjacent technologies.
  2. Unanswered requirements, and how they will be address by the project over time.
  3. Whether OpenStack is sufficiently able to evolve architecturally architecture to meet certain needs.
  4. Community health indicators the board and the wider community should be paying attention to.

It was felt that we would only be able to discuss these in a useful way with an in-person board meeting, and the hope is that we will be able to hold this meeting alongside the PTG with involvement from the Technical Committee.

In order to help frame the discussion at that in-person meeting, Allison proposed that board members consider a series of 12 strategic questions as homework for the next board meeting. These questions are based on the 12 "boundary questions" proposed by Werner Ulrich in his work on Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH). There was some discussion as to whether these questions could, in future, be posed to the wider community via a survey.

There was some brief discussion about how this relates to "OpenStack-wide Goals" mechanism recently introduced by the TC. Toby Ford gave the concrete example of "1000s of nodes under the management of a single control plane", and wondered whether that would qualify as an OpenStack-wide goal. Doug Hellmann happened to be on the call and was able to explain that the goals mechanism is used to achieve changes that address concerns across all projects and which can be completed in a single cycle.

The discussion ended with the board agreeing to complete the 12 questions prepared by Allison for an in-person meeting in Atlanta.

Gold Membership Expansion

The final topic of discussion was raised by Shane Wang. Now that the 24 Gold Member slots have been filled, an obvious question remains ... should the Foundation increase the number of Gold Member slots?

Shane made the case that more companies want to join as Gold Members, particularly in China and gave the example of an other major Chinese telecommunications operator that is eager to join.

Roland explained that the topic had been discussed at a recent - but poorly attended - meeting of the Gold Members. It was felt at that meeting that more options need to be considered than simply increasing the number of Gold Member slots - for example, increasing the number of Platinum Member slots so that perhaps some Gold Members could move to Platinum, or the introduction of a Silver Member tier.

However, it was also felt that we should carefully consider our goals even before jumping into considering specific options. Anni made the point that we're trying to achieve a balance between the risk of devaluing the membership status versus wanting to welcome more participation in the Foundation.

All felt that this was an important topic that warranted further discussion and consideration.

Looking Ahead to 2017

And so, the boards work for 2016 has come to an end. The schedule of meetings for 2017 has not yet been finalized, but the next two meetings are likely to be a two hour conference call on January 31 and an all day in-person meeting in Atlanta on February 24.