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Strawman Foundation Structure

Below is a strawman proposal for how the OpenStack Foundation could be structure. This does not reflect any official thinking, but rather is another perspective to add to the ongoing discussion.

<<TableOfContents()>>

Introduction

The OpenStack Foundation is a non-profit legal entity which embodies the community of individuals who are striving to ensure the continued success of the OpenStack project and its ecosystem.

The foundation governs the project and the community governs the foundation. The foundation is a self-governing meritocracy where those that contribute most to the project's success are rewarded by the community with greater influence in the decisions of the foundation.

Membership

Membership of the foundation is open to everyone who has contributed meaningfully to the project. Qualifying contributions include not only technical contributions - such as code, documentation, translations, bug reports, testing, project infrastructure - but also those broader efforts which are so crucial - such as advocacy, marketing, community management, event planning, legal guidance.

In their dealings with the foundation and project, members are expected to wear their "project hat" by default. Crucial to the health of the community is the ability for members to assume and trust that their fellow members are operating with the interests of OpenStack first and foremost in their minds.

Companies

The involvement of companies large and small in OpenStack will continue to be essential to the success of OpenSack.

The most important contribution any company makes to OpenStack is the employment of individual contributors dedicated to the furtherance of the projects' goals.

The foundation has a need for resources beyond the contributions of individuals. It must be in a position to raise funds from sponsoring companies for events, marketing, administration and, potentially, employees or contractors as it sees fit. It also must be able to ensure the project has sufficient computing infrastructure to support the project.

Hats

It is in every contributing companies' interests that OpenStack is a vibrant and healthy community of collaboration, cooperation and innovation. Companies should encourage their contributing employees to frame their thinking by the interests of the project as a whole, while also understanding the needs of their employer.

When foundation members do need to explicitly represent their employers' interests, they should make it clear they are speaking for, and on behalf of, their employer. In other words, members should make it clear they have replaced their "project hat" with their "company hat" while they are explicitly representing those interests.

The Ecosystem

The success of OpenStack will be dependant on the foundation's ability to grow a strong ecosystem around the project.

External projects building tools which use OpenStack, providers selling OpenStack based services, companies offering training and consulting support for OpenStack, user groups, advocates, ... the list goes on.

The project and its ecosystem has a symbiotic relationship where neither can reach its full potential without the success of the other. The foundation will be responsible for enabling the growth of this ecosystem while balancing the ecosystem's needs with the needs of the project itself.

The Trademark

One of the key assets of the foundation is the OpenStack trademark. The foundation is responsible for ensuring that those who have contributed to the project have fair access to the use of the trademark, while also ensuring that guidelines for its use are enforced in order to protect the value of the trademark.

The foundation will openly and transparently enforce a set of trademark usage guidelines which balances those two needs.

Board of Directors

The ultimate governing authority of the foundation is its Board of Directors.

The 12 directors are elected by popular vote of the entire foundation membership. An election is held once a year following a period where candidates lay out their vision for the foundation, their goals for the year ahead and answer questions from foundation members.

Once elected, the board holds weekly meetings to discuss the ongoing running of the foundation. Board members are expected to take on tasks and report the status of those tasks back to the board. The board may also delegate responsibilities to other individuals or groups and invite them to report back to the board.

As a meritocracy, the foundation will elect its directors based on their contribution to the foundation. However, members will also take into account any candidate's ability to take on their share of the substantial workload of the board. The ideal director would be pragmatic, demonstrate a vision for the foundation and have the skills and time to make an impact on the workload during their term.

Sponsors

OpenStack is a business friendly project and is keenly aware of the need to listen to those companies growing the project and its ecosystem.

The foundation offers the opportunity to companies to sponsor the foundation at three different levels based on the sponsorship funds contributed.

Gold sponsors may appoint a representative to the foundation's Sponsor Advisory Board which meets monthly to discuss the direction of the foundation. This advisory board is the forum within the foundation for sponsoring companies to directly influence the foundation, the project and the ecosystem. The advisory board appoints two of its members to attend each of the foundation board meetings on a non-voting basis. The advisory board may also choose to communicate directly with the foundation membership.

Silver sponsors may appoint a representative to attend a full day of advisory board meetings coinciding with the OpenStack design summit.

Bronze sponsors are listed on the project's website, promotional materials and press releases.

Technical Board

Prior to the establishment of the foundation, the PPB acted as a technical steering committee for the project.

Having a technical board has served the project well and should continue. There has been some discussion amongst the current PPB on how best it might be re-organized - e.g. whether it's appropriate for all PTLs to have a seat, whether all members should be elected etc. - and such ideas are worth examining in the context of establishing the foundation. However, Over time, the foundation board may choose to adjust the makeup and scope of the technical board in order to ensure its efficacy.

While the foundation board will strive to allow the technical board to make its technical decisions unmolested, it is expected that the technical board and foundation board will work in partnership on particularly far-reaching technical decisions. Ultimately, the technical board is delegated its powers from the foundation board.

Membership Committee

One significant administrative task of the foundation is the processing of applications for membership to the foundation.

The board will establish a membership committee of volunteers to openly and transparently process these applications according to the foundation's "meaningful contribution" membership criteria. It is expected that this committee will err on the side of welcoming new members as thanks for their contributions, rather than striving to keep the membership numbers down.

Foundation Employees

The foundation may in future choose to employ or contract individuals to assist the foundation as it sees fit.

This could include executive directors, project evangelists, community managers, partner managers, event planners, lawyers, auditors or even technical contributors to the project.

However, the foundation's explicit preference will always be to avoid such arrangements where possible. Where possible, it is preferred that such responsibilities or tasks will be carried out by members of the foundation on their employers time or, indeed, on their own time.

Event Planning

A key part of the foundation's continued success is its ability to regularly bring its membership, sponsors, users and ecosystem partners together under the one roof.

The board of directors is responsible for ensuring such events continue to happen but will do so by inviting groups to bid for the privilege to host such events. Once a bid has been accepted, an event planning committee consisting of directors and the successful bidders will be formed to plan the event and gather sponsorship.