Let’s call it a “ciao” and not an “addio.”

After almost four years (un)managing the OpenStack community, I have decided to move on and join DreamHost’s team to lead the marketing efforts of the DreamCloud. The past three years and 10 months have been amazing: I’ve joined a community of about 300 upstream contributors and saw it grow under my watch to over 3,600. I knew OpenStack would become huge and influence IT as much as the Linux kernel did and I still think it’s true. I’m really proud to have done my part to make OpenStack as big as it is now.

During these years, I’ve focused on making open source community management more like a system, with proper measurement in place and onboarding programs for new contributors. I believe that open source collaboration is just a different form of engineering and as such it should be measured correctly in order to be better managed. I am particularly proud of the Activity Board, one of the most sophisticated systems to keep track of open collaboration. When I started fiddling with data from the developers’ community, there were only rudimentary examples of open source metrics published by Eclipse Foundation and Symbian Foundation. With the help of researchers from University of Madrid, we built a comprehensive dashboard for weekly tracking of raw numbers and quarterly reports with sophisticated, in-depth analysis. The OpenStack Activity Board may not look as pretty as Stackalytics, but the partnership with its developers makes it possible to tap into the best practices of software engineering metrics. I was lucky enough to find good partners in this journey, and to provide an example that other open source communities have followed, from Wikimedia to Eclipse, Apache and others.

OpenStack Upstream Training is another example of a great partner: I was looking into a training program to teach developers about open source collaboration when I spoke in Hong Kong to an old friend, Loic Dachary. He told me about his experiment and I was immediately sold on the idea. After a trial run in Atlanta, we scaled the training up for Paris, Vancouver, plus community members repeated it in Japan already twice. I’m sure OpenStack Upstream Training will be offered also in Tokyo.

It’s not a secret that I can’t stand online forums and that I consider mailing lists a necessary evil. I setup Ask OpenStack for users hoping to provide a place for them to find answers. It’s working well, with a lot of traffic in the English version and a lot less traffic in Chinese. My original roadmap was to provide more languages but we hit some issues with the software powering it (Askbot) that I hope the infra team and the excellent Marton Kiss can solve rapidly.

On the issue of diversity, both gender and geographic, I’m quite satisfied with the results. I admit that these are hard problems that no single community can solve but each can put a drop in the bucket. I believe the Travel Support Program and constant participation in Outreachy are two such drops that help OpenStack be a welcoming place for people from all over the world and regardless of gender. The Board has also recently formalized a Diversity working group.

Of course I wish I did some things better, faster. I’m sorry I didn’t make the CLA easier for casual and independent contributors: I’m glad to see the Board finally taking steps to improve the situation. I wish also I delivered the OpenStack Groups portal earlier and with more features but the dependency on OpenStackID and other projects with higher priorities delayed it a lot. Hopefully that portal will catch up.

I will miss the people at the OpenStack Foundation: I’ve rarely worked with such a selection of smart, hard workers and fun to be around, too. It’s a huge privilege to work with people you actually want to go out with, talk about life, fun, travel, beers, wines and not work.

When we Italians say “ciao,” it means we’re not saying good bye for long.

So long, OpenStack community, see you around the corner.

This week was my first week as an employee of the OpenStack Foundation. I’m Technical Community Manager, still helping the OpenStack project succeed by helping the technical contributions. The difference is that my salary is now being paid by the newly formed OpenStack Foundation instead of Rackspace. Most of the people I worked with more closely at Rackspace are also at the OpenStack Foundation: Lauren, Mark, Jonathan and Thierry and we’re also hiring more people.

I have high hopes for the projects I will present at the Grizzly Summit: Achieving Visibility and Insight Across OpenStack Projects with Dashboards, Traceability, and Faceted Search, Integrated identity system for OpenStack  and Tracking OpenStack adoption.

 The main thing that changed is my laptop: finally I got rid of that heavy brick I used to carry around and now I have a slick, top of the line Dell XPS 13, the Project Sputnik one, powered by Ubuntu. Oh, what a great machine. I love it already. It gets noisy some time but I believe that’s because I had to run java applets in the past days. I’ll post more details about how I set it up later on. Good times.
Last month I had the luck to listen to Muhammad Yunnus speak about leadership and change. His speech was full of inspiration and hope, his work showed that radical changes can start by questioning what we take for granted.’  Mr. Yunnus reported a dialogue with the director of a bank where he went to ask for them to start lending money to the poors. Quoting from “Banker to the poor”:

Yunnus: “But if you are certain that the money will be repaid, why do you need collateral?”
Bank director: “That is our bank rule.”
Y: “So only those who have collateral can borrow?”
B: “Yes”
Y: “It’s a silly rule. It means that only the rich can borrow.”
B: “I don’t make the rules, the bank does”
Y: “Well, I think the rules should be changed”.

And then he went on and created Grameen Bank, radically changing those rules.

I see in his logic the same kind of logic that lead Richard Stallman to start developing the GNU system.’  He knew the rules of copyright were being used to deprive computer programmers of freedom to learn and evolve software, so he changed them with copyleft.

The lesson I got from this is that if the rules seem broken then it’s time to fix them, even if everybody else takes them for granted.