On Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 3:34 AM, Thierry Carrez <thie...@openstack.org> wrote:
> Like all analogies, this one is not perfect (in particular it horribly
> fails to capture the "open" nature of the stack), but I think it's still
> useful to inform on what OpenStack is.

On the other hand I do think it captures the common feeling of
stepping on them in the dark barefoot...

I think the fact that this question comes up over and over, almost
like clockwork, is a clear signal that we (the community overall)
still do not have a shared understanding of the answer, or some just
don't like the stated answer and their change process is repeating the
question hoping the answer changes.

We've used the term 'cloud operating system' in various places, but
not in our defining documents:

* The Bylaws[0] use the phrase "the open source cloud computing
project which is known as the OpenStack Project"
* The TC charter[1] uses the phrase "one community with one common
mission, producing one framework of collaborating components"
* The UC charter [2] does not include a statement on "what is OpenStack"

I've never liked the "cloud operating system" term because I felt it
mis-represented how we defined ourself, but I've come to realize it
may be the easiest-to-understand metaphor yet for what we are and
where we are today.  Going forward it is increasingly apparent that
hybrid stacks (constellations, etc) will be common that include
significant components that are not OpenStack at layers other than
"layer 0" (ie, below all OpenStack components: database, message
queue, etc).  The example commonly given is of course Kubernetes, but
there are others.

UNIX caught on as well as it did partly because of its well-defined
interfaces between components at user-visible levels, specifically in
userspace.  The 'everything is a file' metaphor, for all its faults,
was simple to understand and use, until it wasn't.  But to still
serves us well.  There was a LOT of 'differentiation' between the
eventual commercial implementations of UNIX which caused a lot of pain
for many (including me) but the masses have settled on the
highly-interoperable GNU/Linux combination. (I am conveniently
ignoring the still-present 'differentiation' that Linux distros insist
on because that will never go away).

[Thank you for reading this far, I didn't intend for this to be so
verbose, but airport terminals can be quite boring at times :) ]

This is where I see OpenStack today.  We are in the role of being the
cloud for the masses, used by both large (hi CERN!) and small (hi
mtrienish's closet!) clouds and largely interoperable.  Just as an OS
(operating system)is the enabling glue for applications to function
and communicate, our OS (OpenStack) is in position to do that for
cloud apps.  What we are lacking for guidance is a direct lineage to
20 years of history.  We have to have our own discipline to keep our
interfaces clean and easy to consume and understand, and present a
common foundation for applications to build on, including applications
that are themselves higher layers of an OS stack.

Phew!  Thank you again for reading this far, I know this is not news
to a lot of our community, but the assumption that "everyone knows
this" is not true, we need to occasionally repeat ourselves to remind
ourselves and inform our newer members what we are, where we are
headed and why we are all here in the first place: to enable awesome
work to build on our foundation, and if we sell a few boxes or service
contracts or chips along the way, our sponsors are happy too.


[0] https://www.openstack.org/legal/bylaws-of-the-openstack-foundation/
[1] https://governance.openstack.org/tc/reference/principles.html#one-openstack


Dean Troyer

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