[openstack-dev] [all][tc] Moving away from "big tent" terminology

Thierry Carrez thierry at openstack.org
Thu Jun 15 09:15:36 UTC 2017

Hi everyone,

Back in 2014, OpenStack was facing a problem. Our project structure,
inherited from days where Nova, Swift and friends were the only game in
town, was not working anymore. The "integrated release" that we ended up
producing was not really integrated, already too big to be installed by
everyone, and yet too small to accommodate the growing interest in other
forms of "open infrastructure". The incubation process (from stackforge
to incubated, from incubated to integrated) created catch-22s that
prevented projects from gathering enough interest to reach the upper
layers. Something had to give.

The project structure reform[1] that resulted from those discussions
switched to a simpler model: project teams would be approved based on
how well they fit the OpenStack overall mission and community
principles, rather than based on a degree of maturity. It was nicknamed
"the big tent" based on a blogpost[2] that Monty wrote -- mostly
explaining that things produced by the OpenStack community should be
considered OpenStack projects.

So the reform removed the concept of incubated vs. integrated, in favor
of a single "official" category. Tags[3] were introduced to better
describe the degree of maturity of the various official things. "Being
part of the big tent" was synonymous to "being an official project" (but
people kept saying the former).

At around the same time, mostly for technical reasons around the
difficulty of renaming git repositories, the "stackforge/" git
repository prefix was discontinued (all projects hosted on OpenStack
infrastructure would be created under an "openstack/" git repository

All those events combined, though, sent a mixed message, which we are
still struggling with today. "Big tent" has a flea market connotation of
"everyone can come in". Combined with the fact that all git repositories
are under the same prefix, it created a lot of confusion. Some people
even think the big tent is the openstack/ namespace, not the list of
official projects. We tried to stop using the "big tent" meme, but (I
blame Monty), the name is still sticking. I think it's time to more
aggressively get rid of it. We tried using "unofficial" and "official"
terminology, but that did not stick either.

I'd like to propose that we introduce a new concept: "OpenStack-Hosted
projects". There would be "OpenStack projects" on one side, and
"Projects hosted on OpenStack infrastructure" on the other side (all
still under the openstack/ git repo prefix). We'll stop saying "official
OpenStack project" and "unofficial OpenStack project". The only
"OpenStack projects" will be the official ones. We'll chase down the
last mentions of "big tent" in documentation and remove it from our

I think this new wording (replacing what was previously Stackforge,
replacing what was previously called "unofficial OpenStack projects")
will bring some clarity as to what is OpenStack and what is beyond it.

Thoughts ?

[2] http://inaugust.com/posts/big-tent.html
[3] https://governance.openstack.org/tc/reference/tags/index.html

Thierry Carrez (ttx)

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