Introduction: A Bit of OpenStack History

The origin

OpenStack was created during the first months of 2010. Rackspace wanted to rewrite the infrastructure code running its Cloud servers offering, and considered open sourcing the existing Cloud files code. At the same time, Anso Labs (contracting for NASA) had published beta code for Nova, a Python-based “cloud computing fabric controller”.

Both efforts converged and formed the base for OpenStack. The first Design Summit was held in Austin, TX on July 13-14, 2010, and the project was officially announced at OSCON in Portland, OR, on July 21st, 2010.

The mission

The OpenStack mission is “to produce a ubiquitous Open Source Cloud Computing platform that is easy to use, simple to implement, interoperable between deployments, works well at all scales, and meets the needs of users and operators of both public and private clouds”.

It was updated in February of 2016 to include interoperability and better serving end users.

The original mission was “to produce the ubiquitous Open Source Cloud Computing platform that will meet the needs of public and private clouds regardless of size, by being simple to implement and massively scalable”. It originally appeared on the wiki on May 24th, 2010.

The Four Opens

The best short definition of “the OpenStack Way” is the four opens as defined in the governance document approved by the Technical Committee:

These were further refined in a set of guiding principles that apply to all OpenStack projects:

In the following chapters, we’ll further elaborate on those basic principles and explain more precisely what they mean for OpenStack project teams.

A quick history of OpenStack governance

Original governance

The original project governance defined three main bodies: the Advisory Board, the Architecture Board and Technical Committees for each sub-project.

This was quickly replaced early 2011 by the Project Oversight Committee, which consisted of a mix of elected and Rackspace-appointed members. PTLs were appointed by Rackspace too.

The governance model was once again tweaked in March 2011. The Project Oversight Committee was renamed to Project Policy Board (still a mix of appointed and elected members), and PTLs were elected by the contributors to their project for the first time.

The OpenStack Foundation

In September 2012, the OpenStack Foundation was launched as an independent body providing shared resources to protect, empower, and promote OpenStack software and the community around it.

The responsibilities of the Project Policy Board were split between two bodies:

  • The Foundation Board of Directors, which defines the objectives of the OpenStack Foundation, controls how the Foundation budget is spent, and has authority on the OpenStack trademark

  • The Technical Committee, which manages the technical matters and has authority over the open source upstream OpenStack Project

The Foundation bylaws also established a third body, the User Committee, to more accurately reflect the views and needs of the users of OpenStack. Since June, 2020 User Committee has been merged into the Technical Committee and is not a separate body anymore.

The Technical Committee was originally formed by all the PTLs + five members directly elected by all the contributors. In June 2013, to accommodate the growth in the number of project teams and PTLs, the Technical Committee decided to switch to 13 directly-elected members instead. Half of those are renewed every 6 months.

The Project structure reform (a.k.a. the ‘big tent’)

One of the prerogatives of The Technical Committee (and its predecessors) is to define what is “an OpenStack project” from an upstream, open source project perspective. OpenStack started with two projects, but as their functionality was refactored and as our community grew, new projects were added.

Requirements for new projects evolved over time. End of 2012 we introduced the concept of incubation, to be able to grow new projects for inclusion in “OpenStack”. However, requirements based on maturity created a catch-22, as projects had trouble attracting enough contributors until they were recognized as official. Concerns around the size of the “integrated release” also resulted in artificially excluding a lot of people from the OpenStack community.

In December 2014, the Technical Committee introduced a Project structure reform (dubbed the ‘big tent’) that moved to a community-centric definition of ‘OpenStack’. Its premise was that teams that follow the OpenStack principles, use our development model and have a scope compatible with the OpenStack mission should not be excluded from the OpenStack community. They can apply to become official OpenStack project teams: if approved they are placing themselves under the OpenStack governance rules, and their deliverables are considered OpenStack projects.