Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Why CloudStack is not a Citrix project

I was at CloudExpo Europe in London last week for the Open Cloud Forum to give a tutorial on CloudStack tools. A decent crowd showed up, all carrying phones. Kind of problematic for a tutorial where I wanted the audience to install python packages and actually work :) Luckily I made it self-paced so you can follow at home. Giles from Shapeblue was there too and he was part of a panel on Open Cloud. He was told once again "But Apache CloudStack is a Citrix project !" This in itself is a paradox and as @jzb told me on twitter yesterday "Citrix donated CloudStack to Apache, the end". Apache projects do not have any company affiliation.

I don't blame folks, with all the vendors seemingly supporting OpenStack, it does seem that CloudStack is a one supporter project. The commit stats are also pretty clear with 39% of commits coming from Citrix. This number is also probably higher since those stats are reporting gmail and apache as domain contributing 20 and 15% respectively, let's say 60% is from Citrix. But nonetheless, this is ignoring and mis-understanding what Apache is and looking at the glass half empty.

When Citrix donated CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) it relinquished control of the software and the brand. This actually put Citrix in a bind, not being able to easily promote the CloudStack project. Indeed, CloudStack is now a trademark of the ASF and Citrix had to rename their own product CloudPlatform (powered by Apache CloudStack). Citrix cannot promote CloudStack directly, it needs to get approval to donate sponsoring and follow the ASF trademark guidelines. Every committer and especially PMC members of Apache CloudStack are now supposed to work and protect the CloudStack brand as part of the ASF and make sure that any confusion is cleared. This is what I am doing here.

Of course when the software was donated, an initial set of committers was defined, all from Citrix and mostly from the former cloud.com startup. Part of the incubating process at the ASF is to make sure that we can add committers from other organization and attract a community. "Community over Code" is the bread and butter of ASF and so this is what we have all been working on, expanding the community outside Citrix, welcoming anyone who thinks CloudStack is interesting enough to contribute a little bit of time and effort. Looking at the glass half empty is saying that CloudStack is a Citrix project "Hey look 60% of their commits is from Citrix", looking at it half full like I do is saying "Oh wow, in a year since graduation, they have diversified the committer based, 40% are not from Citrix". Is 40% enough ? of course not, I wish it were the other way around, I wish Citrix were only a minority in the development of CloudStack.

Couple other numbers: Out of the 26 members of the project management committee (PMC) only seven are from Citrix and looking at mailing lists participation since the beginning of the year, 20% of the folks on the users mailing list and 25% on the developer list are from Citrix. We have diversified the community a great deal but the "hand-over", that moment when new community members are actually writing more code than the folks who started it, has not happened yet. A community is not just about writing code, but I will give it to you that it is not good for a single company to "control" 60% of the development, this is not where we/I want to be.

This whole discussion is actually against Apache's modus operandi. Since one of the biggest tenant of the foundation is non-affiliation. When I participate on the list I am Sebastien, I am not a Citrix employee. Certainly this can put some folks in conflicting situations at times, but the bottom line is that we do not and should not take into account company affiliation when working and making decisions for the project. But if you really want some company name dropping, let's do an ASF faux-pas and let's look at a few features:

The Nicira/NSX and OpenDaylight SDN integration was done by Schuberg Phillis, the OpenContrail plugin was done by Juniper, Midokura created it's own plugin for Midonet and Stratosphere as well, giving us a great SDN coverage. The LXC integration was done by Gilt, Klarna is contributing in the ecosystem with the vagrant and packer plugins, CloudOps has been doing terrific job with Chef recipes, Palo-Alto networks integration and Netscaler support, a google summer of code intern did a brand new LDAP plugin and another GSoC did the GRE support for KVM. RedHat contributed the Gluster plugin and PCExtreme contributed the Ceph interface while Basho of course contributed the S3 plugin for secondary storage as well as major design decisions on the storage refactor. The Solidfire plugin was done by, well Solidfire and Netapp has developed a plugin as well for their virtual storage console. NTT contributed the CloudFoundry interface via BOSH. On the user side, Shapeblue is leading the user support company. So no it's not just Citrix.

Are all these companies members of the CloudStack project ? No. There is no such thing as a company being a member of an ASF project. There is no company affiliation, there is no lock in, just a bunch of guys trying to make good software and build a community. And yes, I work for Citrix and my job here will be done when Citrix only contributes 49% of the commits. Citrix is paying me to make sure they loose control of the software, that a healthy ecosystem develops and that CloudStack keeps on becoming a strong and vibrant Apache project. I hope one day folks will understand what CloudStack has become, an ASF project, like HTTP, Hadoop, Mesos, Ant, Maven, Lucene, Solr and 150 other projects. Come to Denver for #apachecon you will see ! The end.


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