[openstack-dev] [all] A proposal to separate the design summit

Clint Byrum clint at fewbar.com
Tue Feb 23 18:33:26 UTC 2016

Excerpts from Eoghan Glynn's message of 2016-02-22 15:06:01 -0800:
> > Hi everyone,
> > 
> > TL;DR: Let's split the events, starting after Barcelona.
> > 
> > Long long version:
> > 
> > In a global and virtual community, high-bandwidth face-to-face time is
> > essential. This is why we made the OpenStack Design Summits an integral
> > part of our processes from day 0. Those were set at the beginning of
> > each of our development cycles to help set goals and organize the work
> > for the upcoming 6 months. At the same time and in the same location, a
> > more traditional conference was happening, ensuring a lot of interaction
> > between the upstream (producers) and downstream (consumers) parts of our
> > community.
> > 
> > This setup, however, has a number of issues. For developers first: the
> > "conference" part of the common event got bigger and bigger and it is
> > difficult to focus on upstream work (and socially bond with your
> > teammates) with so much other commitments and distractions. The result
> > is that our design summits are a lot less productive than they used to
> > be, and we organize other events ("midcycles") to fill our focus and
> > small-group socialization needs. The timing of the event (a couple of
> > weeks after the previous cycle release) is also suboptimal: it is way
> > too late to gather any sort of requirements and priorities for the
> > already-started new cycle, and also too late to do any sort of work
> > planning (the cycle work started almost 2 months ago).
> > 
> > But it's not just suboptimal for developers. For contributing companies,
> > flying all their developers to expensive cities and conference hotels so
> > that they can attend the Design Summit is pretty costly, and the goals
> > of the summit location (reaching out to users everywhere) do not
> > necessarily align with the goals of the Design Summit location (minimize
> > and balance travel costs for existing contributors). For the companies
> > that build products and distributions on top of the recent release, the
> > timing of the common event is not so great either: it is difficult to
> > show off products based on the recent release only two weeks after it's
> > out. The summit date is also too early to leverage all the users
> > attending the summit to gather feedback on the recent release -- not a
> > lot of people would have tried upgrades by summit time. Finally a common
> > event is also suboptimal for the events organization : finding venues
> > that can accommodate both events is becoming increasingly complicated.
> > 
> > Time is ripe for a change. After Tokyo, we at the Foundation have been
> > considering options on how to evolve our events to solve those issues.
> > This proposal is the result of this work. There is no perfect solution
> > here (and this is still work in progress), but we are confident that
> > this strawman solution solves a lot more problems than it creates, and
> > balances the needs of the various constituents of our community.
> > 
> > The idea would be to split the events. The first event would be for
> > upstream technical contributors to OpenStack. It would be held in a
> > simpler, scaled-back setting that would let all OpenStack project teams
> > meet in separate rooms, but in a co-located event that would make it
> > easy to have ad-hoc cross-project discussions. It would happen closer to
> > the centers of mass of contributors, in less-expensive locations.
> > 
> > More importantly, it would be set to happen a couple of weeks /before/
> > the previous cycle release. There is a lot of overlap between cycles.
> > Work on a cycle starts at the previous cycle feature freeze, while there
> > is still 5 weeks to go. Most people switch full-time to the next cycle
> > by RC1. Organizing the event just after that time lets us organize the
> > work and kickstart the new cycle at the best moment. It also allows us
> > to use our time together to quickly address last-minute release-critical
> > issues if such issues arise.
> > 
> > The second event would be the main downstream business conference, with
> > high-end keynotes, marketplace and breakout sessions. It would be
> > organized two or three months /after/ the release, to give time for all
> > downstream users to deploy and build products on top of the release. It
> > would be the best time to gather feedback on the recent release, and
> > also the best time to have strategic discussions: start gathering
> > requirements for the next cycle, leveraging the very large cross-section
> > of all our community that attends the event.
> > 
> > To that effect, we'd still hold a number of strategic planning sessions
> > at the main event to gather feedback, determine requirements and define
> > overall cross-project themes, but the session format would not require
> > all project contributors to attend. A subset of contributors who would
> > like to participate in this sessions can collect and relay feedback to
> > other team members for implementation (similar to the Ops midcycle).
> > Other contributors will also want to get more involved in the
> > conference, whether that's giving presentations or hearing user stories.
> > 
> > The split should ideally reduce the needs to organize separate in-person
> > mid-cycle events. If some are still needed, the main conference venue
> > and time could easily be used to provide space for such midcycle events
> > (given that it would end up happening in the middle of the cycle).
> > 
> > In practice, the split means that we need to stagger the events and
> > cycles. We have a long time between Barcelona and the Q1 Summit in the
> > US, so the idea would be to use that long period to insert a smaller
> > cycle (Ocata) with a release early March, 2017 and have the first
> > specific contributors event at the start of the P cycle, mid-February,
> > 2017. See the attached PDF for a visual explanation. With the
> > already-planned events in 2016 and 2017 it is the earliest we can make
> > the transition. We'd have a last, scaled-down design summit in Barcelona
> > to plan the shorter cycle.
> > 
> > With that setup, we hope that we can restore the productivity and focus
> > of the face-to-face contributors gathering, reduce the need to have
> > midcycle events for social bonding and team building, keep the cost of
> > getting all contributors together once per cycle under control, maintain
> > the feedback loops with all the constituents of the OpenStack community
> > at the main event, and better align the timing of each event with the
> > reality of the release cycles.
> > 
> > NB: You will note that I did not name the separated event "Design
> > Summit" -- that is because Design will now be split into
> > feedback/requirements gathering (the "why" at the main event) and
> > execution planning and kickstarting (the "how" at the
> > contributors-oriented event), so that name doesn't feel right anymore.
> > We can bikeshed on the name for the new event later :)
> > 
> > Comments, thoughts ?
> Thanks for the proposal, just a few questions:
>  * how would we achieve a "scaled-down design summit in Barcelona"? i.e.
>    what would be the forcing function to ensure fewer contributors attend,
>    given that some people will already be making plans?

The forcing function is the event that comes relatively sooner than 6
months after that all contributors will want to attend. So if your
travel budget doesn't have room for both, you will have to give up
Barcelona. Combine that with project leadership staying mindful of this
fact, and not scheduling sessions that don't need to be talked about
_right then and there_, and I think people will feel O-K about skipping
it. That said, I've always wanted to see Barcelona, so...

>  * would free passes continue to be issued to all ATCs, for *both* the
>    conference and the contributor event? (absent cross-subsidization at
>    the latter event from non-ATC attendees paying full whack)

I think one way to again control the pressure for contributors is
to change from a free-for-ATCs model for the whole conference to
free-hackspace-for-ATCs plus a discount for the full conference.

Obviously the contributor-only event would be free for ATCs, and perhaps
would be limited invite-on-request for non-ATCs so operators can come
if they're serious about participating but haven't completed any ATC

>  * if reducing travel costs is part of the aim here, would it be wise not
>    to hold the second contributor event per-year in mid-August, when in
>    Europe at least the cost of flights and hotels spike upwards and the
>    availability of individual contributors tends to plummet due to PTO.

August can be bad in the US too, though it's not quite as consistent as
the European summer vacation. :)

>  * would it better to keep the ocata cycle at a more normal length, and
>    then run the "contributor events" in Mar/Sept, as opposed to Feb/Aug?
>    (again to avoid the August black hole)

Late March is treacherous in the US, as spring break is generally around
the last week of March. So I think it just has to stay mid-March or

>  * instead of collocating any surviving mid-cycles with the more glitzy
>    conference-style event (which seems to run counter to the midcycle
>    ethos AIUI), why not allow these to continue running per-project in
>    unofficial mode in donated office space? (if projects consider them
>    still needed)  

I agree with these remaining distributed and small. Using the conference
space would maybe a _an_ option, and I think Thierry's proposal more or
less leaves this as an option for teams, as it always has been.

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