[openstack-dev] [all][tc] Proposal: Separate design summits from OpenStack conferences

Jay Pipes jaypipes at gmail.com
Sun Feb 7 20:07:20 UTC 2016

Hello all,


I have long thought that the OpenStack Summits have become too 
commercial and provide little value to the software engineers 
contributing to OpenStack.

I propose the following:

1) Separate the design summits from the conferences
2) Hold only a single OpenStack conference per year
3) Return the design summit to being a low-key, low-cost working event


The design summits originally started out as working events. Developers 
got together in smallish rooms, arranged chairs in a fishbowl, and got 
to work planning and designing.

With the OpenStack Summit growing more and more marketing- and 
sales-focused, the contributors attending the design summit are often 
unfocused. The precious little time that developers have to actually 
work on the next release planning is often interrupted or cut short by 
the large numbers of "suits" and salespeople at the conference event, 
many of which are peddling a product or pushing a corporate agenda.

Many contributors submit talks to speak at the conference part of an 
OpenStack Summit because their company says it's the only way they will 
pay for them to attend the design summit. This is, IMHO, a terrible 
thing. The design summit is a *working* event. Companies that contribute 
to OpenStack projects should send their engineers to working events 
because that is where work is done, not so that their engineer can go 
give a talk about some vendor's agenda-item or newfangled product.

Part of the reason that companies only send engineers who are giving a 
talk at the conference side is that the cost of attending the OpenStack 
Summit has become ludicrously expensive. Why have the events become so 
expensive? I can think of a few reasons:

a) They are held every six months. I know of no other community or open 
source project that holds *conference-type* events every six months.

b) They are held in extremely expensive hotels and conference centers 
because the number of attendees is so big.

c) Because the conferences have become sales and marketing-focused 
events, companies shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for schwag, 
for rented event people, for food and beverage sponsorships, for keynote 
slots, for lavish and often ridiculous parties, and more. This cost 
means less money to send engineers to the design summit to do actual work.

I would love to see the OpenStack contributor community take back the 
design summit to its original format and purpose and decouple it from 
the OpenStack Summit's conference portion.

I believe the design summits should be organized by the OpenStack 
contributor community, not the OpenStack Foundation and its marketing 
and event planning staff. This will allow lower-cost venues to be chosen 
that meet the needs only of the small group of active contributors, not 
of huge masses of conference attendees. This will allow contributor 
companies to send *more* engineers to *more* design summits, which is 
something that really needs to happen if we are to grow our active 
contributor pool.

Once this decoupling occurs, I think that the OpenStack Summit should be 
renamed to the OpenStack Conference and Expo to better fit its purpose 
and focus. This Conference and Expo event really should be held once a 
year, in my opinion, and continue to be run by the OpenStack Foundation.

I, for one, would welcome events that have no conference check-in area, 
no evening parties with 2000 people, no keynote and 
powerpoint-as-a-service sessions, and no getting pulled into sales meetings.

OK, there, I said it.

Thoughts? Criticism? Support? Suggestions welcome.


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