[all] A call for consolidation and simplification

Ben Nemec openstack at nemebean.com
Thu Mar 12 17:14:02 UTC 2020

On 3/11/20 10:15 AM, Thierry Carrez wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'd like to issue a call for consolidation and simplification for 
> OpenStack development.
> In the early years of the project, we faced a lot of challenges. We had 
> to spread the development load across manageable-size groups, so we 
> encouraged the creation of a lot of project teams. We wanted to capture 
> all the energy that was sent towards the project, so we passed project 
> structure reforms (like the big tent) that would aggressively include 
> new community groups in the "official" OpenStack community. We needed to 
> remove bottlenecks, so we encouraged decentralized decision making. And 
> we had to answer unique challenges, so we created software to match them 
> (Zuul). In summary, we had a lot of people, and not enough systems to 
> organize them, so we created those.
> Fast-forward to 2020, and our challenges are different. The many systems 
> that we created in the early days have created silos, with very small 
> groups of people working in isolation, making cross-project work more 
> difficult than it should be. The many systems that we created generate a 
> lot of fragmentation. Like we have too many meetings (76, in case you 
> were wondering), too much energy spent running them, too much 
> frustration when nobody joins. Finally, the many systems that we created 
> represent a lot of complexity for newcomers to handle. We have 180 IRC 
> channels, most of them ghost towns where by the time someone answers, 
> the person asking the question is long gone.
> So I think it's time to generally think about simplifying and 
> consolidating things. It's not as easy as it sounds. Our successful 
> decentralization efforts make it difficult to make the centralized 
> decision to regroup. It's hard to justify time and energy spent to 
> /remove/ things, especially those that we spent time creating in the 
> first place. But we now have too many systems and not enough people, so 
> we need to consolidate and simplify.
> Back around Havana, when we had around the same number of active 
> contributors as today, we used to have 36 meetings and 20 teams. Do we 
> really need 180 IRC channels, 76 meetings, 63 project teams (not even 
> counting SIGs)?
> Yes, we all specialized over time, so it's hard to merge for example 
> Oslo + Requirements, or QA + Infrastructure, or Stable + Release 
> Management, or Monasca + Telemetry. We are all overextended so it's hard 
> to learn new tricks or codebases. And yet, while I'm not really sure 
> what the best approach is, I think it's necessary.

We've often had a fair amount of overlap between Oslo and some of the 
other horizontal teams like releases and requirements, which makes a 
certain amount of sense since they're all cross-OpenStack efforts. 
Naturally they tend to attract the same people.

That said, would it make sense to merge with any of them? I'm unsure. 
And that's not a passive-aggressive "unsure", I actually don't know ;-).

I will say that I feel pretty good about where the Oslo team is right 
now. Our meetings are generally well-attended, I would say even better 
than they were a year ago, and there's good discussion that happens. 
Many weeks topics are brought up by someone who is not me, which seems 
like a good sign of engagement. I guess we'll see what happens in the 
upcoming PTL election, but I'm not feeling like we need to do anything 
drastic to ensure a positive future for the project.

Maybe that's an argument that we should bring another smaller team under 
our umbrella. We kind of just did that with the docs team not so long 
ago. I don't know if anyone else has strong opinions about how that has 
gone - mostly it hasn't changed much for me as PTL other than having a 
few more projects to review and release from time to time. I'm not sure 
if there are other projects where a merger would go as smoothly, but I'm 
open to suggestions.

I don't know if any of the above is helpful at all, but I think it's a 
good summary of my thoughts as I've considered this.

> Comments, thoughts?

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