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

Jay Pipes jaypipes at gmail.com
Mon Feb 8 17:50:33 UTC 2016

On 02/08/2016 11:56 AM, James Bottomley wrote:
> On Mon, 2016-02-08 at 09:43 -0500, Jay Pipes wrote:
>> On 02/08/2016 09:03 AM, Fausto Marzi wrote:
>>> The OpenStack Summit is a great thing as it is now. It creates big
>>> momentum, it's a strong motivator for the engineers (as enjoy our
>>> time
>>> there)
>> I disagree with you on this. The design summits are intended to be
>> working events, not conference parties.
> Having chaired and helped organise the Linux Plumbers conference for
> the last 8 years, I don't agree with this.  Agreeable social events are
> actually part of the conference process.  Someone who didn't dare
> contradict the expert in a high pressure lecture room environment may
> feel more confident to have a quiet discussion of their ideas over a
> beer/wine at a social event.

James, I very much respect you, your opinion, and your experience in the 
Linux community. However, you are mixing things up here, possibly 
because you never attended the early design summits.

The OpenStack design summits started out life as small, social, working 
events. There were no "high pressure lecture room" environments. There 
was no presentations or PowerPoint lectures at all. The seating was 
arranged in fishbowl setups and not everyone-facing-front.

The original design summits were the very definition of "discussion of 
... ideas at a social event". They have become quite the opposite.

> Part of the function of a conference in a remote community is to let
> people meet each other and get to know the person on the other end of
> the fairly impersonal web id.  It also helps defuse community squabbles
> and hostility: it's easier to be nasty to someone you've never met and
> who your only interaction with is via a ritual communication mechanism.

What you describe above is *not* what is happening at the OpenStack 
Summits. It's become a show, a marketing event where it's more difficult 
to have personal meetups with community members because there's way too 
many people and way too much emphasis on parties and schwag.

It is the original design summits that allowed people to actually meet 
each other and get to know the person on the other end of the web id. It 
is now the mid-cycle events that truly encourage this behaviour, because 
the design summits have become too tied to the OpenStack marketing event.

>>   > and the Companies are happy too with the business related side. I
>>> see it also as the most successful Team building activity,
>>> Community and
>>> Company wide.
>> This isn't the intent of design summits. It's not intended to be a
>> company team building event.
> Hey, if that's how you have to sell it to your boss ...

I don't need to sell anything to my boss. I need to make recommendations 
to them on what will be the most cost-effective and productive spend of 
a limited budget for engineering. And my recommendation leans more and 
more towards smaller, focused, working events instead of the OpenStack 
summits for all the reasons I have written in this thread.

>>   > For Companies, the costs to send engineers to the Summit
>>> or to a dedicated Design event are exactly the same.
>> This is absolutely not the case. Sending engineers to expensive
>> conference hotels for a full week or more is more expensive than
>> sending engineers to small hotels in smaller cities for shorter
>> amounts of focused time.
> How real is this? Vancouver was a really expensive place, but a lot of
> people who were deeply concerned about cost managed to find cheaper
> hotels even there.  You can always (or usually) find the option for the
> cost conscious if you look.  One of the advantages of large hub cities
> is cheaper airfafe, which is usually a slightly more significant
> component than accommodation.  Once you start looking at "smaller"
> cities with only a couple of airlines serving them, you'll find the
> travel costs sky rocket.

There's more to costs than just the travel and lodging. If you account 
for the productivity of the people attending the event as well as the 
amount of time they need to spend at a location in order to accomplish 
some amount of work, I think you will find my point holds.

>>   > Besides, many Companies send US based employees only to the US
>> Summit, and EU
>>> based only to the other side. The OpenStack Summit is probably the
>>> most advanced and successful OpenSource event, if you take out of
>>> it the engineering side, it won't be the same.
>> I don't see the OpenStack Summit as being an advanced event. It has
>> become a vendor-driven suit-fest, IMHO.
> Well, if we disdain its content and pull all the engineers away, that's
> certainly a self fulfilling prophecy.

Heh, touché.

 > Why not make it our mission to
> try and give a more technical talk at the OpenStack summit itself?

This is totally fine. Design summits are not intended to be people 
giving talks at all. This is perhaps what you are missing since you did 
not attend early design summits.

 > I
> have ... I think most of the audience actually enjoyed it even if there
> were a few suit types who found themselves in the wrong session.

I agree. I have found your talk about VMs versus container technology 
most excellent.

 > The
> design summits are very strictly focussed.  It's actually harder to
> give more general technical talks there than it is at the summit
> because of the severity of focus.

Again, there should not be *any* talks given at a design summit. It's a 
working event, not a set of people lecturing at others.

>>> I think, the issue here is that we need to have a better and more
>>> productive way to work together. Probably the motivation behind a
>>> separate design summit and also this discussion is focused to
>>> improve that, as we see that face to face is effective. Maybe this
>>> is the limitation we need to resolve, rather than changing an
>>> amazing event.
>> All I want is to be more productive. In my estimation, the Summits
>> have become vastly less productive than they used to be. Mid-cycles
>> are generally much more productive and much more cost-effective
>> because they don't have the distraction of the Summit party
>> atmosphere.
> "... because thou art virtuous, there should be no more cakes and ale?"
> ... you're implying that we all party and forget work because of a
> "party atmosphere".  This doesn't accord with my experiences at all.  I
> may be less usual than most, but Vancouver was a foodie town ... I
> spent all the evenings out to dinner with people I don't normally meet
> ... I skipped every party including the super special VIP ones (which,
> admittedly, I'd intended to go to).  Tokyo was about the same because I
> had a lot of people to say "hello" to and it's fun going out for a
> Japanese experience.  People who go to the summit to party probably
> aren't going to make much of a contribution in a separated design
> summit anyway and people who don't can do just as well in either
> atmosphere.

We will just have to agree to disagree. :) Again, I think you are 
misunderstanding what the design summit is supposed to be.

Anyway, I eagerly await Thierry's publication of the foundation's proposal.


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