One of the founding members and chief architect for OpenStack says he could not get necessary changes to the open-source cloud effort made and has left Rackspace as a result.

Rick Clark wrote in a blog post that he left Rackspace to pursue an opportunity at Cisco but also due to his inability to effectively lobby for changes he believes need to be made to the OpenStack effort.

In particular he cited the OpenStack Governance Model that went underwent changes without community participation.

OoenStack detailed the changes in a blog post. These include the election of technical leads for each project and the revamping of the Project Policy Board. There will also be a new Advisory Board.

What Clark's Departure Means

Clark's departure comes one month before the OpenStack Design Summit. The conference will help set the tone for its next evolution and test its mettle as an open organization.

Openness made the Linux movement what it was. OpenStack is at a juncture that could define it as an open, community driven organization. The energy is behind the effort but confidence in the organization will in part depend on how it evolves. Clark questions that openness but is also a believer in OpenStack's future.

His post drew such attention that he took it upon himself to write a follow-up, clarifying his views about Rackpace and his support for OpenStack.

Rackspace provided the following statement:

Rackspace does not comment on the circumstances under which employees leave the company. We've gotten positive feedback on the recent changes in governance of OpenStack, with elections happening now. Code contributions continue to pour in from around the globe as we work toward the 3rd release (Cactus) April 14, followed by the second public Design Summit, April 26-29. With new developers and organizations joining and investing in the project every day, we've never been more excited about OpenStack's future.

In an interview, Clark said his new role at Cisco is as principal engineer and to help with open-source efforts. It was a huge opportunity he could not pass up. He thinks Rackspace is trying to do the right thing but needs to avoid the problem in the future. What he does not want is a fork. A split is bad for everyone.

He supports the changes that Rackspace has made. There will be tech leads for each of the sub projects that are part of OpenStack. His role as chief architect is going away.

"That's how it should be," Clark said.

Five Big Issues

Clark cited five issues in his original post that he says illustrate the problems at hand:

  • Influence over Control. In Clark's view, Rackspace is trying to control OpenStack more than influence it. The company had made changes to the governance of OpenStack without discussing with the community.
  • Openness Matters. Clark says that from the start, OpenStack said openness and transparency were core to the organization. If that's the case, then why did Rackspace not make it transparent and in the open about the changes it was making to the governance of the organization?
  • Technology not Marketing. There's concern that Rackspace is treating OpenStack as a marketing vehicle more than as the technology initiative it really is.
  • Community means Participation. The OpenStack definition for community is wrong. Signing up partners does not mean the effort has a community. Partners did sign up to be a part of OpenStack but there is an issue with participation.
  • Foundation, Foundation, Foundation. The code for OpenStack needs to go into a foundation. He writes: "Putting the code in a foundation similar to the Linux Foundation, is good for everyone. IANAL, but I believe it protects Rackspace from some types of legal liability, spreads out the cost of running the project, it shows that Rackspace understands that it doesn't actually own the project, and it protects the project from management changes and changes of priorities at any one company. Most important of all, it encourages an ecosystem to develop, by placing everyone on fair and equal footing."

The Future of OpenStack

The future of OpenStack viewed from today's vantage point tells a story about a movement that may be better defined by its second year than by its first.

It was only OSCON last July when OpenStack launched. We have yet to see any major developments emerge from it. Those should come by next year.

But in the meantime, there are some important issues to resolve before OpenStack is an open-source movement that is truly comparable to the Linux community.