While most would agree that large-scale, open-source software projects require some form of governance, there are differing opinions on where that governance should come from.
Though it is the preferred practice of some to concentrate directional authority in the hands of one person or a small group of people, OpenStack offers an alternative.
OpenStack uses an education-based, peer review model that allows multiple voices to be heard. This allows for the project to move forward while taking changed forms as it does so.
The OpenStack Foundation was created as a group of companies with a more progressive approach to collaboration. Recognizing that openness and collaborative integration were essential parts of the software industry’s great success stories, OpenStack developed a unique four-tiered approach that includes the following:
- Open sourcing
- Open design
- Open development and
- Open communities and collaboration.
The OpenStack community recently has seen a spike in membership originating from the corporate world, which showcases a broader desire on behalf of organizations to participate in non-traditional development models. OpenStack groups these corporate participants into two broad categories:
- Committed participants are genuinely involved in the OpenStack community and offer resources to its partners.
- Involved participants joined OpenStack for strategic, branding, or tactical reasons and remain on the periphery of the community.
As part of its strategy to encourage involved participants to become more committed participants, OpenStack's leadership is aiming to better communicate the ways in which its partners can help foster a more vibrant, more productive community.
They are emphasizing that even minor contributions are invaluable and can have a major impact on ongoing projects. The transparent, community-oriented nature of OpenStack also helps members learn from the errors and shortcomings of past projects, which ideally boosts success rates while promoting efficiency and faster project completion.
A Growth Spurt
One of the consequences of OpenStack's recent growth spurt is that the community is under increasing pressure to take on more projects, including those that are considered “nonessential.” As such, the foundation is currently working to prioritize module development that would facilitate the expansion of the OpenStack trademark.
Projects that qualify for inclusion in the OpenStack community can benefit enormously from its collaborative environment and decentralized leadership.
Giving decision-making authority to one person or a small group of people is a useful strategy for keeping a development project on track, but it requires a significant personal and financial investment to maintain. On the other hand, OpenStack offers a fresh perspective on traditional approaches to software development while maintaining collaboration through peer review.