[openstack-dev] [all] Switching to longer development cycles

Clint Byrum clint at fewbar.com
Thu Dec 14 15:15:51 UTC 2017

I feel like the thing not stated is that what we really don't like is
that our users are falling behind. Sure, pressure in release time is
definitely real. Multiple PTG's and forums feels like people are
missing out. But what's really awful is that some of our users are
stuck down in the bottom of an upgrade well and the only supported
path out is through several upgrades.

What if we did a community goal to get upgrade testing solidified,
and have it test upgrading each project from _three_ stable releases
prior. So, if we did this for Rocky, we'd make sure you could upgrade
to Rocky from Queens, Pike, or Ocata.

And then we keep doing that in perpetuity. This gives users 18 months
from one release to get it up and stabilized, and then start the upgrade
cycle again. It also gives them 2 targets to hit while they do that,
since they can try "the stable that just released" and "the prior one"
and not feel like they'll fall behind if the new release has issues and
they have to stay conservative.

Basically instead of doing the release less frequently, shift the value
of the release toward what our users need.

Excerpts from Thierry Carrez's message of 2017-12-13 17:17:26 +0100:
> Hi everyone,
> Over the past year, it has become pretty obvious to me that our
> self-imposed rhythm no longer matches our natural pace. It feels like we
> are always running elections, feature freeze is always just around the
> corner, we lose too much time to events, and generally the impression
> that there is less time to get things done. Milestones in the
> development cycles are mostly useless now as they fly past us too fast.
> A lot of other people reported that same feeling.
> As our various components mature, we have less quick-paced feature
> development going on. As more and more people adopt OpenStack, we are
> more careful about not breaking them, which takes additional time. The
> end result is that getting anything done in OpenStack takes more time
> than it used to, but we have kept our cycle rhythm mostly the same.
> Our development pace was also designed for fast development in a time
> where most contributors were full time on OpenStack. But fewer and fewer
> people have 100% of their time to dedicate to OpenStack upstream
> development: a lot of us now have composite jobs or have to participate
> in multiple communities. This is a good thing, and it will only
> accelerate as more and more OpenStack development becomes fueled
> directly by OpenStack operators and users.
> In another thread, John Dickinson suggested that we move to one-year
> development cycles, and I've been thinking a lot about it. I now think
> it is actually the right way to reconcile our self-imposed rhythm with
> the current pace of development, and I would like us to consider
> switching to year-long development cycles for coordinated releases as
> soon as possible.
> What it means:
> - We'd only do one *coordinated* release of the OpenStack components per
> year, and maintain one stable branch per year
> - We'd elect PTLs for one year instead of every 6 months
> - We'd only have one set of community goals per year
> - We'd have only one PTG with all teams each year
> What it does _not_ mean:
> - It doesn't mean we'd release components less early or less often. Any
> project that is in feature development or wants to ship changes more
> often is encouraged to use the cycle-with-intermediary release model and
> release very early and very often. It just means that the minimum we'd
> impose for mature components is one release per year instead of one
> release every 6 months.
> - It doesn't mean that we encourage slowing down and procrastination.
> Each project would be able to set its own pace. We'd actually encourage
> teams to set objectives for the various (now longer) milestones in the
> cycle, and organize virtual sprints to get specific objectives done as a
> group. Slowing down the time will likely let us do a better job at
> organizing the work that is happening within a cycle.
> - It doesn't mean that teams can only meet in-person once a year.
> Summits would still provide a venue for team members to have an
> in-person meeting. I also expect a revival of the team-organized
> midcycles to replace the second PTG for teams that need or want to meet
> more often.
> - It doesn't mean less emphasis on common goals. While we'd set goals
> only once per year, I hope that having one full year to complete those
> will let us tackle more ambitious goals, or more of them in parallel.
> - It doesn't simplify upgrades. The main issue with the pace of
> upgrading is not the rhythm, it's the imposed timing. Being forced to
> upgrade every year is only incrementally better than being forced to
> upgrade every 6 months. The real solution there is better support for
> skipping releases that don't matter to you, not longer development cycles.
> - It doesn't give us LTS. The cost of maintaining branches is not really
> due to the number of them we need to maintain in parallel, it is due to
> the age of the oldest one. We might end up being able to support
> branches for slightly longer as a result of having to maintain less of
> them in parallel, but we will not support our stable branches for a
> significantly longer time as a direct result of this change. The real
> solution here is being discussed by the (still forming) LTS SIG and
> involves having a group step up to continue to maintain some branches
> past EOL.
> Why one year ?
> Why not switch to 9 months ? Beyond making the math a lot easier, this
> has mostly to do with events organization. The Summits are already
> locked for 2018/2019 with a pattern of happening in April/May and
> October/November. As we want to keep the PTG event as a separate
> work-focused productive event at the start of every cycle, and not have
> it collide with one of those already-planned summits, going for a yearly
> rhythm is the best solution.
> When ?
> If we switch, we could either pick February/March or August/September as
> the start of cycle / yearly PTG time. From an events organization
> perspective, it is a lot easier to organize a week-long event in
> February/March. August is a no-go for a lot of the world. Early
> September is a mess with various US and religious holidays. Late
> September is just too close to the October/November summit.
> So the year-long cycles would ideally start at the beginning of the
> year, when we would organize the yearly PTG. That said, I'm not sure we
> can really afford to keep the current rhythm for one more year before
> switching. That is why I'd like us to consider taking the plunge and
> just doing it for *Rocky*, and have a single PTG in 2018 (in Dublin).
> Who makes the call ?
> While traditionally the release team has been deciding the exact shape
> of development cycles, we think that this significant change goes well
> beyond the release team and needs to be discussed across all of the
> OpenStack community, with a final decision made by the Technical Committee.
> So... What do you think ?

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