September 21, 2016

Navigating OpenStack: Community, Release Cycles and Events


OpenStack Summit
OpenStack has an international community of more than 60,700 individual members.

Hopefully last week we piqued your interest in a career path in OpenStack. Adoption is growing and so is the number of OpenStack jobs. Like any other open source project, if you’re going to use it---professionally or personally—it’s important to understand its community and design/release patterns.

The OpenStack community

OpenStack has an international community of more than 60,700 individual members. Not all of these members contribute code, but they are all involved in developing, evangelizing or supporting the project.

Individuals have contributed over 20 million lines of code to OpenStack since its inception in 2010. OpenStack’s next release, Newton, will arrive the first week of October and has more than 2,500 individual contributors. You need not be an expert in infrastructure development to contribute—OpenStack project teams include groups like the internationalization team (which helps translate the dashboard and docs into dozens of languages) and the docs team—work that’s equally important to OpenStack’s success.

You can find a full list of projects here, ranging from core services like compute and storage to emerging solutions like container networking.

The release cycle

OpenStack releases run on a six-month schedule. Releases are named in alphabetical order after a landmark near the location of that release cycle’s Summit, the big event where the community gathers to plan the next release. The first release was named Austin; the current release is Mitaka and the upcoming release is Newton.

Release planning will soon undergo a change in response to community feedback. In the A-N releases, developers and contributors both met with users to gather parameter and worked on solutions in their teams at the OpenStack Summit (an event we’ll talk about momentarily—you don’t want to miss them!). This started to become too large of a task for the allotted time.

Starting next year, the community will try something new: what used to be the Design Summit will be split into two events. More strategic planning conversations and requirements gathering will continue to happen at the Summit in an event to be called the “Forum.” More detailed implementation discussions will happen among contributors at the smaller Project Teams Gathering (PTG), which will occur in between the Summits.

If you’re a developer or administrator working professionally on OpenStack, you might find yourself attending the Forum to give your input on the upcoming release, or becoming a contributor on a project team and attending the PTG!

Learn more about what’s new in the Newton release with the Newton Design video series.

Summits, Hackathons and everything in between

With such a large and active community, there’s no shortage of ways to meet up with other Stackers. The biggest, mark-your-calendar-don’t-miss-it event is the OpenStack Summit. The Summit is a bi-annual gathering of community members, IT leaders, developers and ecosystem supporters. Each year one Summit is held in North America and one Summit rotates between APAC and EMEA. In April 2016, the Austin, Texas Summit brought more than 7,800 Stackers. October 25-28, 2016, the community heads to Barcelona, Spain. Summits are a week of hands-on workshops, intensive trainings, stories and advice from real OpenStack users, and discussions submitted and voted on by the community.

In between Summits, community members host OpenStack Days—one or two day gatherings that draw everyone from active contributors to business leaders interested in learning more about OpenStack. Topics are determined by community organizers, and often reflect the challenges pertinent to that community as well as the local industries’ specialties.

The newest OpenStack events for cloud app developers are OpenStack App Hackathons, another community-led event. Ever wondered what you could build if you had 48 hours, unlimited cloud resources and a bunch of pizza? Taiwan hosted the first Hackathon, where the winning team created a tool that helped rehabilitate damaged neuromuscular connections, followed by Guadalajara, where the winning team created an app that gave users storage of and access to their healthcare records, a major problem in the team’s local community.  

And of course, there’s no shortage of local user groups and Meetups to explore around the world.

Getting Started

In the subsequent pieces in this series, we’ll discuss the tools and resources available for sharpening your OpenStack skills and developing the necessary experience to work on OpenStack professionally. But if you’re ready to start exploring, the community has multiple low risk options to start getting involved.

If you’re interested in development, DevStack is a full OpenStack deployment that you can run on your laptop. If you’re interested in building apps on OpenStack or playing with a public cloud-like environment, you can use TryStack, a free testing sandbox. There is also a plethora of OpenStack Powered clouds in the OpenStack Marketplace.

As you’re exploring OpenStack, keep handy—it’s the OpenStack-only version of Stackoverflow.

Common Concerns

You’ve seen the job market, you’ve gotten the community layout, and surely you have more questions. In our third installment, we’ll address the experience it takes to get hired to work on OpenStack, and share the resources you can use to help get you there. If you have a question you want answered, Tweet us at @OpenStack.


Want to learn the basics of OpenStack? Take the new, free online course from The Linux Foundation and EdX. Register Now!

The OpenStack Summit is the most important gathering of IT leaders, telco operators, cloud administrators, app developers and OpenStack contributors building the future of cloud computing. Hear business cases and operational experience directly from users, learn about new products in the ecosystem and build your skills at OpenStack Summit, Oct. 25-28, 2016, in Barcelona, Spain. Register Now!

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