Let’s Encourage Innovation: Thoughts From OpenStack Summit Hong Kong

For three years we’ve gathered in different cities across the US to develop OpenStack and build an incredible community the open cloud platform. In that time, OpenStack has grown larger than we could have ever imagined.

And earlier this month, OpenStack Summit took to the global stage. More than 3,500 attendees joined together in Hong Kong to dive deeper into OpenStack from three key perspectives: the operator, the developer and the user.

The attendance was record-setting and the agenda was jam-packed with informative topics for everyone; whether they’re just getting started with OpenStack or have been committing code since we launched the project in 2010. When fewer than 75 of us met in Austin more than three years ago to kick off OpenStack, we had no idea how big it would become.

It’s estimated that 65 percent of attendees were at their first Summit; and roughly 45 percent of all attendees were from Asia. This is a clear signal that OpenStack has become the international platform it was designed to be. Just look at the more than 200 attendees at the China and Hong Kong OpenStack User Meetup the prefaced the Summit – OpenStack is a global community. At the same time, there were also a number of folks from Europe and the US who braved the long flights to Hong Kong to make this the best Summit yet.

And believe me, it was the best so far. I’ve been to every Summit; and I was stunned by the amazing pace and scope of innovation. The speed at which it moves is astounding. There are new features being added at blazing speeds, and new projects, like Heat and Ceilometer and more are evolving and gaining real traction. Meanwhile, budding endeavors like Solum, an application lifecycle management play, are gathering steam – despite some skepticism in the marketplace. And there are new technologies, like Docker, emerging that are changing the way developers think about building applications in this new era.

One thing OpenStack Summit Hong Kong showed me is that we shouldn’t do anything to restrict this innovation. Let’s get out of the way. The board and the Foundation should let this innovation happen naturally. Let’s understand the concerns about the protection of OpenStack core definitions and of the brand, and encourage the smart people involved to innovate around the project with as few roadblocks as possible.

That’s one reason central control over OpenStack wouldn’t work – it should be the power of many, not the power of a single entity. The Hong Kong Summit showed us once and for all that the OpenStack model is working very well and that meritocracy rules.

The enthusiasm and energy around OpenStack is contagious. In the keynotes, in the sessions and in the hallways there was a vibration; a feeling that we are all part of something incredible. And we are. The OpenStack community comprises hundreds of great people. One of the things I most look forward to at OpenStack Summits is the rare chance to spend time with friends and with business rivals (who are also friends) in a dynamic community environment where we’re all working for the greater good and all have the opportunity to be heard. We all have our say. OpenStack is truly a community endeavor.

It was a terrific Summit. And I can’t wait to do it all again in the Spring. I look forward to seeing you in Atlanta.

Jim Curry is a Senior Consultant with Rackspace. He joined the company in 2006 to run corporate development efforts, which included new business incubation, venture investing activities, and mergers and acquisitions, including the acquisitions of Webmail.us, Slicehost, Jungle Disk and Cloudkick. Three years later, Jim led the founding of the OpenStack project on behalf of Rackspace and was responsible for developing the community until its transition to the OpenStack Foundation in 2012. He currently serves on the board of the foundation. Jim has previously held executive positions with several technology startups, including Bowstreet and Tivoli, which have since been acquired by IBM. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas and an MBA from Harvard University. Jim and his wife Laurie have a son and twins, a boy and a girl. Follow Jim on Twitter at @jimcurry and on his blog at: cloudpunch.blogspot.com


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