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

Adam Young ayoung at redhat.com
Sat Feb 13 03:06:49 UTC 2016

On 02/12/2016 06:17 AM, Eoghan Glynn wrote:
>> Hello all,
>> tl;dr
>> =====
>> 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
I think you would hurt developer attendance.  I think the unified design 
summit sneaks under the radar of many companies that will send people to 
the conference but might not send them to a design-only summit.

I know a lot of people at smaller companies especially have to do double 
duty. I'm at a larger company and I have to do double duty, booth and 
design.  Sometimes my talks get accepted, too.

I think the combined summit works.  I would not want to have to travel 
any more than I do now.

I think the idea of more developer-specific socializing would be great.  
Downtime is also a good thing, and having the socializing in venues that 
don;t involve shouting and going hoarse would be a plus in my book.

TBH, after a day of summit, I am often ready to just disappear for a 
while, or go out with a small group of friends.  I tend to avoid the 
large parties.

That said, the Saxophone is coming to Austin, and I plan on trying to 
get an informal jam session together with anyone that has an 
instrument...and we'll see if we can find a piano.

>> details
>> =======
>> 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.
> Largely agree with the need to re-imagine summit, and perhaps cleaving
> off the design summit is the best way forward on that.
> But in any case, just a few counter-points to consider:
>   * nostalgia for the days of yore will only get us so far, as *some* of
>     the friction in the current design summit is due to its scale (read:
>     success/popularity) as opposed to a wandering band of suits ruining
>     everything. A decoupled design summit will still be a large event
>     and will never recreate the intimate atmosphere of say the Bexar
>     summit.
>   * much of the problem with the lavish parties is IMO related to the
>     *exclusivity* of certain shindigs, as opposed to devs socializing at
>     summit being inappropriate per se. In that vein, I think the cores
>     party sends the wrong message and has run its course, while the TC
>     dinner ... well, maybe Austin is the time to show some leadership
>     on that? ;)
>   * cost-wise we need to be careful also about quantifying the real cost
>     deltas between a typical midcycle location (often hard to get to,
>     with a limited choice of hotels) and a major city with direct routes
>     and competition between airlines keeping airfares under control.
>     Agreed let's scale down the glitz, but let's keep the accessibility
>     where possible. Aim for Prague or Portland, as opposed to Bristol or
>     Rochester.
>   * timing-wise the summit can't be all things to all men^H^H^Hpeople,
>     all some projects aim for early and fixed deadlines in the cycle
>     (specs & non-prio feature freeze etc.) whereas others are more fluid.
>     Also some contributors in the community have a post-release-tag
>     productization crunch to contend with. So while earlier is good,
>     maybe not the week after the release tag?
>   * finally, let's be careful also about projecting the travel budget
>     policies (read: perverse incentives) of individual companies onto
>     the entire community ... some companies incentivize conference talks,
>     others try to optimize for working session involvement, some aim for
>     a balance etc.
> Cheers,
> Eoghan
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