OpenStack Retools to Engage More Cloud User Feedback, Interoperability

How do you get more users to contribute ideas to an open-source cloud effort? The OpenStack Foundation has a plan.

The open-source OpenStack Foundation is ramping up multiple efforts to continue to bolster its own growth and momentum in the cloud space. OpenStack is a multi-stakeholder effort to build a cloud platform that includes the participation of some the biggest names in IT, including IBM, Cisco, Dell, AT&T and Hewlett-Packard.

The basic idea behind any open-source project is that the code is open and available to all, with the opportunity for lots of people to contribute and collaborate. When it comes to actually getting input and contributions to a project, the voice of the user can sometimes be drowned out as vendors and code contributors get involved. It's a challenge that the OpenStack Foundation understands and is aiming to tackle this year.

"We want to make it easier for people to contribute and find more ways to get people involved besides just bringing code," Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK.

The OpenStack Foundation already has a user committee in place as part of its structure, which aims to ensure the user's voice is part of the OpenStack process. In 2014, the goal is to accelerate the manner in which user concerns and requests flow into the project and are then manifest in project blueprints and development.

Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK that in user meetups, they are now working to identify top pain points and get that information back to the development process earlier than ever before. The OpenStack cloud platform is just over three years old and to date, the way that user feedback has come in is at one of the Foundation's semi-annual design summits. The goal now is to get the feedback in before a design summit.

"While certainly important decisions are made at OpenStack design summits every six months, a lot of thinking goes into a summit long before the event," Collier said. "So we're trying to get user feedback in a structured manner, well before the design summits so they can influence the roadmaps."

The voice of the user also gets pulled through to the OpenStack technical development teams via the multiple vendors that are in fact contributing and developing code. Collier stressed that the OpenStack community is a large and vocal one and there are customers of OpenStack vendors who will talk openly about where they want OpenStack to go. That said, it has been the case, and will likely continue to be so, that the OpenStack vendor community also brings forward technical requirements from their own users.

Interoperability and Certification

From the very beginning of the OpenStack project, questions have been raised about interoperability among different OpenStack cloud implementations.

It's a challenge that the OpenStack Foundation is now tackling head-on with a pair of efforts. The Defcore effort aims to assemble a core set of components and capabilities that define what an OpenStack cloud is all about.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.