The Fanatical Faces Of Rackspace Private Cloud: Anne Gentle

As one of the pillars of hybrid cloud, Rackspace Private Cloud started with a mission to build and operate private clouds powered by OpenStack in our data center, in a colocation facility or in a customer’s data center. In this weekly blog series, we’ll profile some of the key members of the Rackspace Private Cloud team to give you a glimpse into the inner workings of a team that’s helping to define and deliver the future of private and hybrid clouds.

Meet Software Developer and Content Stacker Anne Gentle. If you’re a part of the OpenStack community, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard her name. When she’s not working on documentation, she’s authoring or co-authoring technical books (some written in five days!), volunteering her time teaching kids about technology or helping interns get their feet wet with OpenStack.

Tell me about your journey to cloud computing.
Well in my case the perfect job, coordinating OpenStack documentation in an open, collaborative, continuous publishing way, was in my back yard! I had been writing and ruminating about Agile documentation, open source documentation, ways to collaborate with communities for technical documentation, for years, probably since 2005. The cloud and the key characteristics of cloud computing were very interesting to me since I like to coordinate distributed work. Why not coordinate distributed computing or storage services? I love using the OpenStack APIs to make things appear out of nowhere. At Rackspace we each get cloud accounts, and I’m using servers for development work AND impressing my nine-year-old son by running Minecraft and Terraria servers for him and his buddies.

What do you love most about Rackspace?
I really, really love my job, and that Rackspace supports OpenStack documentation. I like Rackers; they are good to their moms, something I notice now that I’m a mom! Plus, we’re very respectful of each other. It’s the Rackers I love most about Rackspace.

What are the most important traits/skills you look for when bringing on new team members?
People think I have a huge team. And in some ways I do — we had nearly 80 contributors to the OpenStack documentation during the Grizzly release. But these are Stackers who value documentation, but they’re not necessarily on a single team. That said, the core documentation group that I trust to push through reviewed documentation is now up to 20 members. I look for a willingness to communicate a lot to get their ideas into the community, as well as a sharp eye in reviews. We’re always seeking more documentation contributors and we’re having an OpenStack Docs Boot Camp in September.

What makes OpenStack and your specific position so exciting to you?
In 2009 I wrote a book about collaborative documentation with the social web, and this job is such a great match for my ideas there that it’s practically a job description! I can probably count on my fingers and toes the number of doc specialists that get to work in open source exclusively, so I feel very fortunate to have landed this spot.

I find it super exciting to experiment with continuous publishing and writing documentation like code. I think the book sprint method, writing a book in five days with a facilitator, is one of the most exciting methods for writing books. It’s also draining and tiring but the results have been fantastic for both the OpenStack Operations Guide and the OpenStack Security Guide.

Where do you see OpenStack in five years?
Let’s see, five years from now it’ll be 2018 and we’ll all have rocket cars, right? I think that OpenStack will be the cloud for the world, with fully translated documentation, to help technologists orchestrate clouds in templates that are cross-compatible. In 2018 I’ll go to OpenStack Summits around the world and there will be 30 percent female attendees there with me. Two of the Platinum member companies at the OpenStack Foundation will have merged by then. A smartphone app will tell me the health of my cloud. My then-teenaged sons will be able to configure software defined networking. Okay, maybe not that last one.

Anything else you want to add or anything interesting about you that you’d want people to know? 
A few months ago I embarrassed myself by inviting the entire OpenStack mailing list (the old Launchpad one, now with a new spiffy home!) to a “Learn to Play Tennis” event in Austin. Hee hee. So it’s no secret that I’m taking tennis lessons. I try to get better on the weekends in the Austin heat.

You can find Anne on Twitter at @annegentle.


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