OpenStack is a rapidly growing ecosystem that produces a new release of a complex software package every half year. This is the outcome of a fruitful cooperation of individuals from all over the world, working for large companies and small startups or just doing this as a hobby.
It is a very interesting journey. One the one hand, more hands are always needed on the keyboard, but on the other hand, it’s a challenge to become an influential part of this community. And while community engagement might sound easy, when you start doing it, you realize that it’s time consuming and requires focus and dedication.
It’s definitely worth the effort. The wider community’s willingness to fix bugs, increase test coverage, write documentation, and do code reviews all makes OpenStack more stable, reliable, and user friendly. As you get more and more involved, you soon realize that your work hours must become more flexible, because you work with people all around the globe. You also need good communication skills; but don’t worry, you don’t necessarily have to be chatty, because that’s not a requirement.
During Ericsson's first big contribution, we learned much about how the Gerrit web-based code review tool works in a large community and how to survive a -2 rating, which we received as a critique of our API design. Another challenge is navigating cross-project feature development, because you need the attention of multiple core teams to come up with a design that results in an efficient interaction between the modules. When you realize that there are bits and pieces that do not fit with the others, the most important thing is to quickly reach out to people from all the core teams to ensure agreement on the design.
For example, we are currently involved in the activity to support Cinder volume multi-attach in Nova, which turned out to be more complex than it appeared at the beginning. But after much discussion, this blueprint is now on track, and we will have meetings during the Design Summit to finalize the next steps and then dig deep into the code again. If you are interested in participating, you are very welcome to join the related sessions during the second half of this week!
It’s been three years now since Ericsson started to look deeper into OpenStack and contributing. As a telecom vendor, it seemed particularly difficult to get involved in open source and adapt to the processes. We chose to contribute to Ceilometer, because we needed a more advanced query on our API, which then became a new API providing rich query functionality. It took us three months to get this feature merged, which increased the size of the code base by two percent—quite a big change!
For contribution best practices in OpenStack, please check out this recording from a 2014 session: Tales from the Ship: Navigating the OpenStack Community Seas. Or join my presentation this afternoon on how to become an advanced contributor.
For more information on Ericsson’s activities at the OpenStack Summit this week, please visit our special event page: http://www.ericsson.com/hyperscale/events/openstack-summit-austin-2016.
And we'll be giving updates on related thought-leadership topics after the summit. Please sign up for the Dare to Be Better blog to stay up to date: