This article first appeared at http://www.tesora.com/defining-success-in-openstack/
I recently read Thierry Carrez’s blog post where he references a post by Ed Leafe. Both reminded me that in the midst of all this hand wringing about whether the Big Tent was good or bad, at fault or not at fault, and whether companies were gaming the system (or not), the much bigger issue is being ignored.
We don’t incentivize people and organizations to do the things that will make OpenStack successful, and this shortcoming poses a real and existential threat to OpenStack.
Werner Heisenberg observed that the act of measuring the position of a sub-atomic particle affected its momentum and vice-versa. In exactly the same way(s) that Heisenberg said, the act of measuring an individuals (or organizations) performance in some area impacts that performance itself.
By measuring commits, lines of code, reviews and other such metrics that are not really measures of OpenStack’s success, we are effectively causing individuals and organizations to do the things that make them appear “good” on those metrics. They aren’t “gaming the system”, they are trying to look good on the measures that you have established for “success”.
At Tesora, we have always had a single-minded focus on a single project: Trove. We entered OpenStack as the DBaaS company, and have remained true to that. All the changes we have submitted to OpenStack, and the reviews and participation by Tesora have been focused on the advancement of DBaaS. We have contributed code, documentation, tests, and reviews that have helped improve Trove. To us, this single minded focus is a good thing because it has helped us advance the project, and to make it easier for people to deploy and use it in practice. And to us, that is the only thing that really matters.
The same thing(s) are, true for all of OpenStack. Actual adoption is all that matters. What we need from the Technical Committee and the community at large is a concerted effort to drive adoption, and to make it easier for prospects to deploy and bring into production, a cloud based on OpenStack. And while I am a core-reviewer, and I am the Trove PTL, and I wrote a book about Trove, and our sales and marketing team do mention that in customer engagements, we do that only because they are the “currency” in OpenStack. To us, the only things that really matter are ease-of-use, adoption, a superlative user experience, and a feature rich product. Without that, all this talk about contribution, and the number of cores and PTL’s is as completely meaningless as whether the Big Tent approach resulted in a loss of focus in OpenStack.
But, remember Heisenberg! Knowing that what one measures changes how people act means that it would be wise for the Technical Committee to take the leadership in defining success in terms of things that are surrogates for ease of installation, ease of deployment, the number of actual deployments, and things that would truly indicate the success of OpenStack.
Let’s stop wasting time defending the Big Tent. It was done for good reasons, it had consequences. Realize what these consequences are, perceive the reality, and act accordingly.