OpenStack User Groups: We Are Only As Strong As The Community We Build

openstack-logo-5122The OpenStack Community

A primary, if not THE primary, reason for the success of any open-source project is community involvement by vendors and users alike.  Community was the driver for the success of Linux and Apache and is doing the same for OpenStack as an open-source Cloud software platform. To give you a snapshot of the community involvement in OpenStack, below are two slides from Randy Bias’ excellent talk at the recent OpenStack Summit; I encourage everyone to take look at Randy’s slides on the “State of the Stack.”

First, take a look at OpenStack’s impressive growth as an open-source community:

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.31.07 AM

More recently, here is the level of community involvement in the recent Grizzly release of OpenStack:

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.42.36 AM

The stats bear out that not only is the OpenStack community thriving, it is rapidly growing.  Of course, community involvement doesn’t only mean code contribution.  It’s also sharing knowledge and collaborating with others in the community as well welcoming and educating those who are new to our community.  To that end, the OpenStack Foundation has done a good job of cultivating and encouraging local OpenStack user groups, who meet on a regular or semi-regular basis to foster community and collaboration.  A listing of these groups can be found on the OpenStack User Group wiki page.

Getting Involved

One of the privileges I have, working for Rackspace, is that I am tasked with supporting the OpenStack community.  Recently I’ve had the honor of meeting with other like-minded folks to talk about the future of OpenStack user groups in the Northeast and have come away very excited about what we will be doing to build on the great work that has already been done and to hopefully expand the reach of the OpenStack Community in the Northeast.

You can find out more about the OpenStack NY User group, which has been meeting since 2010, by visiting our Meetup page.  There you will find a schedule of past and upcoming events and be able to meet the organizing committee.  Starting in August, The Philadelphia and Connecticut chapters will have our inaugural meetups and I am hopeful that a New Jersey chapter will kickoff this fall.  One of the things I am most excited about with the user groups are the level of participation we’ve been able to cultivate.  Besides the companies represented by the organizing committees, we’ve also received offers for help from companies like Cisco, Inktank, and Mirantis, all solid contributors to the OpenStack project.  But beyond this broad coalition of vendors who want to support the group, I am most excited about the possibility of soliciting contributions from end-users in the community and helping to educate them as much as possible on “What is OpenStack and why they should care.”

So what might you expect to see out of these OpenStack User Groups?  The themes we will be focused on include Education, Involvement, and Collaboration.

Educationbigstock_Online_Education_11092172

We think that we can best serve the community by giving members more opportunities to meet with one another and more opportunities to learn about OpenStack. Having decided to meet on a monthly basis, we are planning to host a series of meetups that drill down on the various current and future OpenStack projects.  The added value we hope to bring is that, given the wide adoption of VMware technologies, we want to present OpenStack with an eye towards educating users and vendors whose knowledge of Cloud Computing is grounded in what they know about vSphere and vCloud.

image_galleryInvolvement

Community is ultimately about bringing people together to strengthen one another.  Moving to a monthly meetup will not only create more learning opportunities but more social engagement opportunities between vendors and users.  Supporting that effort may be additional activities such as beer nights and hackathons.  For the meetups, we are planning to use Google Hangout and/or WebEx to allow community members to participate even if they can’t attend in person for every meetup.

I also talked earlier about cultivating broader user and vendor involvement.  One of the ways we want to do that is by giving members a forum for sharing with the community.  Expect to see that future meetups will have vendors talking about what added value they bring to OpenStack.  We are also considering having time at each meetup for both vendors and users to share lessons learned from their OpenStack Proof-of-Concepts and production deployments.  Beyond the monthly meetings, we would love to see a vibrant OpenStack community that supports one another by answering questions at the meetup or on the online forum.

knowledgetreeCollaboration

Community, by definition, involves multi-way communication and contribution.  As the OpenStack Foundation attempts to educate users, the user community has a responsibility to give back to the OpenStack project and to other members of the community.  This contribution can come in many forms, from code contribution, to education, to evangelism, to sponsorship, etc..  Long term goals for the Northeast OpenStack User Groups may involve helping to start other user groups.  There may one day be opportunities for all the Northeast user groups to collaborate on projects such as regional OpenStack seminar days or conferences.

What I hope everyone is able to pick up, from this post, is that for the OpenStack user group organizing committees, we are not doing this primarily because it’s our job; we are doing it out of our passion for cultivating vibrant communities and because we believe that together, with the global OpenStack community, we can bring to reality the vision for the Open Cloud.  So I invite all interested parties to join us, in person or remotely, and to tell others about our community.

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