[User-committee] [app] OpenStack Apps Community, several suggestions how to improve collaboration

Hart Hoover (hahoover) hahoover at cisco.com
Tue May 17 15:40:34 UTC 2016

> For the sake of our discussion below let us agree on a simple approach: an OpenStack application is any software asset which 1. can be executed on an OpenStack cloud, 2. lives in apps.openstack.org.

No, I do not agree. An OpenStack application does not need to live on apps.openstack.org. It can live anywhere. #1 (it runs on OpenStack) is all that matters.

Secondly, the last thing I want to deal with as a user of OpenStack is the Foundation’s governance. Just support me by providing excellent documentation, by being available for help in IRC/email/whatever, by showing me examples of how to do things in blogs/videos/presentations, then getting out of my way and letting me build the awesome. For application testing resources, trystack exists. Rackspace has a free tier developer program. TravisCI and CircleCI have free tiers. I’m sure there are others.

Finally, who is responsible for the application once it’s on apps.openstack? The original developer. OpenStack should continue to follow DockerHub’s example (or if you prefer, the Chef Supermarket example) and link to source code elsewhere, and make it plain who wrote & maintains the app. Let anyone submit applications for the catalog with an OpenStackID – we should have less governance here, not more.
Hart Hoover

From: Igor Marnat <imarnat at mirantis.com>
Date: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 5:13 AM
To: user-committee <user-committee at lists.openstack.org>
Subject: [User-committee] [app] OpenStack Apps Community, several suggestions how to improve collaboration

having attended many sessions and talked to many customers, partners and contributors in Austin I’d like to suggest several improvements to how we develop OpenStack apps and work with the Community App Catalog (https://apps.openstack.org/). 

Key goals to achieve are:
- Provide contributors with an ability to collaborate on OpenStack apps development
- Provide contributors and consumers with transparent workflow to manage their apps
- Provide consumers with information about apps - how it was developed and tested
- To summarize - introduce the way to build community working on OpenStack apps

What is OpenStack application
OpenStack is about 6 years young and all these years discussions about it are in progress. Variety of applications is huge, from LAMP stacks and legacy Java apps to telco workloads and VNF apps. There is working group which works on a definition of "What is OpenStack application", hopefully community will agree on definition soon.

For the sake of our discussion below let us agree on a simple approach: an OpenStack application is any software asset which 1. can be executed on an OpenStack cloud, 2. lives in apps.openstack.org.  So far there are Murano applications, Heat templates, Glance images and TOSCA templates.

Introduction to OpenStack development ecosystem
OpenStack was introduced about 6 years ago. Over these years community grown significantly. There were 8 companies contributing to OpenStack in Austin (1-st release). In Mitaka (13-th release) there were 64 companies contributing.

One of the reasons for this growth is the set of sophisticated tools the OpenStack contributor ecosystem has chosen to use or build to enable collaboration:
- software repositories: http://git.openstack.org/cgit/openstack/nova, http://git.openstack.org/cgit/openstack/neutron, ..
- bug trackers: https://launchpad.net/nova, https://launchpad.net/neutron, ...
- same instance of gerrit for all the projects for code review: https://review.openstack.org/
- gating test infrastructure http://zuul.openstack.org/
- common approach to release management, repositories management, naming, tons of other things managed by review in https://review.openstack.org/#/q/status:open+project:openstack/governance
- IRC channels, etherpads, meetings and mailing lists
- governance to manage all of the above

All of the above is what we can call OpenStack collaboration ecosystem and it is a key factor for OpenStack community success.

Introduction to OpenStack apps development ecosystem
Now when OpenStack is mature and have it up and running is not a big deal, focus of community and customers shifts from "how do I get a running cloud" to "what do I do with running cloud".

Use cases of different cloud users are very different, however one can identify and develop standard building blocks which can be reused by cloud users (service providers, DevTest teams, ...). Many cloud users want to contribute their homegrown apps upstream because:
- it allows to other people to use it and improve it
- community can implement missing parts
- community can help with testing and maintaining an app

Year ago we introduced Community App Catalog for OpenStack http://apps.openstack.org as an integration/distribution point of customer experience/apps. This initiative is successful, there are about 100 software assets of various kinds which can be run on OpenStack. For further growth we need to make several changes in a way we approach collaboration around OpenStack Apps. Namely, we need to provide an ability to apps developers to collaborate on application development.

OpenStack Community App Catalog is there, what else?
Community App Catalog http://apps.openstack.org allows to publish/consume apps to/from it.

"The OpenStack Community App Catalog is designed to use the same tools for submission and review as other OpenStack projects. As such we follow the OpenStack development workflow" [0].

To follow OpenStack development workflow, apps developers need to have:
- dedicated repositories & code review system to collaborate on code
- mailing lists, IRC channels, core reviewers teams
- common approach to QA
- governance model to manage all of the above

Most of the above is missing for apps developers now.  App Catalog provides central place to store final artifacts (ready apps, like .exe files in Win world) but there is no centralized infrastructure to collaborate on development of source code of apps.

Apps developers partially use infrastructure of OpenStack core projects (Heat & Murano) - repositories and bug trackers. Other than that they are on their own, there are no teams, no mailing lists, no IRC channels for apps developers - most of the items from the list above is missing.

[0] https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/App-Catalog#How_to_contribute

All right, we need to change something. What exactly? 

1.  We need to introduce a team which manages content of Community App Catalog, decides which new assets can be added, decides on a workflow for apps publishing, maintaining, consuming. This team could be a complimentary team working alongside the Community App Catalog implementation team (engine, backend, frontend); or within the team itself

2. There should be separated repositories for source code of apps from Community App Catalog. These repositories should not be stored under openstack label as they do not relate to core OpenStack projects. Core project teams are not responsible for maintaining apps.  

3. Bug tracking for apps should be separated from bug tracking for core projects.

4. There should be teams working on apps with core reviewers, IRC channels and mailing lists. These teams should differ from core projects teams.

5. Given #1 - #4 it seems reasonable to develop governance model specific for OpenStack Apps Community, which differs (when it’s necessary) from governance model of OpenStack Community.

Let us develop such a governance model, implement changes described above and build community of OpenStack apps developers.

PS. There is representative discussion in comments to https://review.openstack.org/#/c/309383/.
Some team wants to add new repository for CI/CD Murano app. Should it be part of Murano core project? Rather not. Should it be part of BigTent? Well, rather not as BigTent is for core OpenStack services, not for workloads on top of it. At the same time team wants to use some OpenStack infra resources (at least gerrit for now) as this project is obviously beneficial for OpenStack. We need to have an ability to resolve similar requests in a centralized manner - there are more teams who want to publish source code of their OpenStack apps and there is no established workflow for that.

Agree. What’s next?

Suggested plan:
- Introduce label openstack-apps, put repositories with source code of OpenStack Apps under it, i.e.:
  * http://git.openstack.org/cgit/openstack-apps/murano-apps
  * http://git.openstack.org/cgit/openstack-apps/heat-templates
  * http://git.openstack.org/cgit/openstack-apps/tosca-workflows
- Agree with OpenStack Community App Catalog team on how content of App Catalog is managed and by whom
- Describe workflow of how to add source code of new application to repositories, who approves its addition
- Introduce simplified workflow of publishing new Application to the catalog:
  * register/login
  * push/update
  * done
- Introduce teams (core reviewers) contributing to/maintaining Murano apps, Heat templates, ...
- Establish channels of communications with potential contributors (mailing list, meetings, IRC/slack channel, ... ?)
- Agree with contributors on QA process for applications and how we track it in Community App Catalog 

To simplify commenting and tracking of the plan above I put last two sections with suggested steps to the etherpad https://etherpad.openstack.org/p/OpenStackAppsCommunity

Please share your thoughts and comments.

Igor Marnat

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