Open Source Project Momentum: What It Takes
KubeCon+CloudNativeCon sponsored this podcast.
Many projects are initiated to solve a problem that an organization or a user is experiencing. Thanks to the magic of open source, the community can serve to help solve the problem and, ideally, offer solutions better than the creators had originally hoped for. The maintainers’ main mission is largely about helping to make sure the software platform or tool continues to improve and to ensure the contributions are properly maintained and managed.
In this edition of The New Stack Makers podcast, guests from Red Hat and VMware discuss how an open source project develops, changes and becomes sustainable. The guests are: Michael Michael, director of products, VMware; Travis Nielsen, senior principal software engineer, Red Hat; Annette Clewett, principal architect, Red Hat; and Rob Szumski, senior manager, product management, OpenShift at Red Hat. The New Stack founder and publisher Alex Williams hosted this conversation.
Open source users’ needs and constraints can certainly vary while providing the main impetus behind how an open source project evolves. Clewett described, for example, how she uses Rook to bring it downstream into an offering that Red Hat calls OpenShift Container Storage.
“I have done a lot of testing and work upstream, but my main deal is to try to get Rook downstream. Everything that we’ve done is first upstream and then comes downstream,” said Clewett. “So there’s really no sync issue with that.”
As one of the original Rook maintainers and creators, Nielsen explained how his team saw a need for storage and Kubernetes when Rook was created. Today, Nielsen is still a project maintainer and continually seeks to improve Rook as users needs change.
“We have features that we bring in when customers ask for them and when we see a need,” Nielsen said. “There are all sorts of things around what people need for storage in Kubernetes.”
VMware owns a lot of the open source tooling and technologies within their business unit such as Harbor, an open source registry, and Contour, an Ingress controller for Kubernetes. “From a project standpoint, one of the main goals that I have is to facilitate and ensure that we have a healthy ecosystem for our projects to grow,” said Michael.
Open source governance policies are especially helpful in assuring that the goals of the projects Michael leads are met. “We want everybody to have a voice, an opportunity and a seat at the table, and, most importantly, help us grow those projects,” he said.
Red Hat’s Operator SDK, a framework that improves how operators are written, and Operator Lifecycle Manager, a framework that helps to extend Kubernetes with operators, recently succeeded in achieving the incubation status at Cloud Native Computing Foundation. While the CNCF status was a major goal, Szumski explained the team’s “uber long-term goal” is to “make operators a thing.”
“We teach folks how to think about writing this type of software and how it’s different than other pieces of software they might write, then how to market that with customers,” said Szumski. “So it’s a lot of open source.”