Open source project management is a consideration that is as important as the features, speed, and coding of its platform. In some cases, open source projects are managed by a single individual who always has the last word; this model is referred to as the dictatorial model. In other cases, specific companies or organizations take the lead but work in tandem with their partners; this is the democratic or consensus model. Finally, there are also open source projects that are controlled by individuals or small groups of people who are more concerned with sustainability than they are with management.
The Importance of Open Source Project Management
“Who's in charge?” is an extremely important question when it comes to open source projects. Without strong leadership and a clear direction, projects can grow with unchecked aimlessness like weeds in a garden. There also has to be an established protocol for resolving disputes and differences of opinion, particularly when a large number of people are involved.
OpenStack uses what is known as a foundation model. With a foundation model, open source project managers maintain a clear direction and authoritative leadership. Simultaneously, they allow different voices to be heard and to make important contributions to the project’s direction. Foundation models also prevent individuals and small groups of people from exercising more than their fair share of control over a project’s direction and development.
The OpenStack Management Model
OpenStack originated as a collaborative partnership between NASA and Rackspace. It was actually created by Rackspace as a means of managing open source projects that both organizations were working on. The OpenStack Foundation was officially formed in 2011 as a nonprofit project management entity.
OpenStack uses a unique management structure that allows many different individuals and organizations to make key contributions to projects while maintaining a strong core of central leadership. The organization is led by a Board of Directors who manage finances and control long-term evolution and direction. It also benefits from a strong group of technological professionals who maintain software architecture and provide necessary tech support.
OpenStack’s Program Team Lead Elections
Though OpenStack’s various projects are tightly integrated, each individual project is managed by an elected program team leader, called a PTL. In April, OpenStack held PTL elections to determine who would head the organization’s various ongoing projects. A total of 21 projects were included in the elections, and there are currently six projects with contested leadership.
Questions about project leadership are not a sign of trouble; rather, they are an indication that things are moving in the right direction. Individual project contributors are eligible to vote in the PTL elections, and project membership plays a key role in ensuring that OpenStack stays on the right course in the months ahead. Those who are eligible to vote are strongly encouraged to do so.