[Openstack-operators] A Hypervisor supporting containers

Narayan Desai narayan.desai at gmail.com
Fri May 2 19:56:26 UTC 2014

Sorry, I took some metaphorical license. There was an old tv show called
"when animals attack" that I was drawing a parallel to. I think there is
literally no malicious intent in this situation; I said as much in my mail.

The problem is that there is a severe culture clash. This isn't new, and my
talking about it isn't new. I sent several treatises to the foundation list
about 18 months ago talking about just this sort of problem. The responses
ranged from talks about project infrastructure as code to surprise that
anyone was running the openstack code base.

In my mind, the project has been heading in a wrong direction. Here is my
diagnosis. The project started from an extremely practical base. NASA had
problems with eucalyptus (which mirrored the issues we had at scale on our
system Magellan). Rackspace needed swift. In both cases, working code
trumped design, testing, etc. There were machines to make work, and that
was the number one priority. When we first deployed (around 12/2010) the
system was a revelation compared with its competitors.

Over time, the project has become more of a developer focused project.
There has been an enormous influx of developer resources between the
project getting hot (essentially becoming a job mill for developers), and a
pageant for companies to compete in. This growth and success has clearly
been difficult to deal with in terms of project infrastructure. I'm still
amazed at the fact that Vish managed to hold nova together through that
kind of growth. (as a friend said, it isn't that the bear dances well, it
is that it dances at all). As I said in my mail, openstack has developed an
immune system to maintain aggregate code and design quality. While this
immune system helps to keep bad stuff out, it keeps a lot of good stuff out
as well. This immune system manifests itself as a bunch of things; the code
integration process is one example, but there are plenty of others as well.

Over time, the incentives have pushed toward creating more projects and
more advanced functionality. This has resulted in projects that could be
incubated over time without a hard requirement that they be usable from day
one. The usability problems with neutron are a good example of this class
of issue, IMO.

The core misunderstanding seems to be expecting operators to work under the
same incentive structure as developers. Operators have one incentive: to
make their systems work well. They don't have explicit incentives to
participate in blueprints, code reviews, or coding. Expecting them to
integrate with the project in similar ways to developers seems to be a
mistake the project continues to make, even with some of the new efforts to
pay attention to their feedback more explicitly. The core ethos of the
project are developer ethos, and this will likely continue.

Don't get me wrong, getting better feedback is better than not, but bolting
on operator focused activities won't change this fundamental characteristic.

It isn't clear that operators can contribute in ways that are valued by the
openstack community, or likely to result in leverage for their
organizations. We've tried a variety of methods, and they have all fallen

My major question is how to build a productive configuration that
integrates operators (and their expertise) without requiring them to
interact like developers do. I'm not sure quite how to do that.

On Fri, May 2, 2014 at 11:18 AM, Stefano Maffulli <stefano at openstack.org>wrote:

> On 05/02/2014 05:47 AM, Narayan Desai wrote:
> > tl;dr: openstack is starting to feel like a tv show called "when
> > developers attack"
> I respect your opinion but I strongly disagree with it: there is no
> attack, there is no "fight" between developers and operators. There is
> friction but no deliberate attempt to harm (as the term 'attack'
> implies). Quite the contrary is true instead: I can see deliberate
> attempts to oil and reduce friction at different spots in our community.
> There is a strong and concerted effort to make sure that operators'
> opinions are taken in proper consideration by OpenStack developers. The
> OpenStack Foundation started regular meetings with operators to collect
> feedback and identify issues. The first happened a couple months ago,
> another one is being scheduled, at 6 months interval. For quite some
> time, during the Summits, the Foundation had dedicated Operators tracks
> and we keep introducing more operators-specific events (see Tom's
> earlier message).
> Outside of the Foundation, the developers community sent quite strong
> signals recently with the election of Michael Still, whose platform as
> PTL is all about listening to people and "producing reliable production
> grade code"[1]. Russell Bryant's effort to change how Nova blueprints
> are discussed and approved also is a strong signal from the developers
> that they listen to operators and want to have their involvement.
> I can see why you're upset though: change is slow to happen, this effort
> may be too little, too late. Objectively though, look at the numbers:
> thousands of occasional developers, hundreds of committed developers
> need to be steered while running.
> > We've seen features proposed for removal (not just in nova) because of
> > lack of testing coverage. Features that have been integrated for years,
> > that we've been using in production *for years without any problems*.
> >
> > Getting new code integrated is a nightmare. Take a look at this:
> > https://review.openstack.org/#/c/65113/
> That's an unfortunate case but I read this differently from you. To me
> this is a typical case of a blueprint approved without a proper
> discussion and planning phase. Russell and Mark McClain+Kyle Mestery put
> forward a fix for this sort of issues already for Nova[2] and
> Neutron[3]; let's see how these work out in Juno.
> > The feedback loops from users/ops continue to be broken. Tim's efforts
> > on behalf of the user committee are important steps in the right
> > direction, but the developer culture is openstack culture in a deep way.
> > Operators continue to be on the outside.
> What else would you suggest we can all do besides what is already being
> put in place?
> Thanks,
> Stef
> [1]
> http://lists.openstack.org/pipermail/openstack-dev/2014-March/031305.html
> [2] https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Blueprints#Nova
> [3] https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Blueprints#Neutron
> --
> Ask and answer questions on https://ask.openstack.org
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