Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is it worth investing time and money in OpenStack?

Last week I attended the OpenStack Vancouver summit. It was a good experience for me.

In the past, I attended Interop, PuppetConf, TechEd and Citrix Synergy. All these conferences I was able to obtain the full conference pass for free.

For the OpenStack Vancouver summit, I actually have to pay for the full conference pass (early bird fee is $600). As I have stated in my previous blog post, I think it is worth the investment to attend this OpenStack summit. I have also set for myself 2 objectives that I wanted to accomplished in attending this summit. The 2 objectives are:
  1. Get a jump start on OpenStack
  2. Meet people in the OpenStack community
So did I accomplished my objectives and was it worth the investment?

Getting a jump start on OpenStack
I believe I have achieved this objective.  I am now very comfortable in the entire commit process to GitHub, using etherpad to communicate as well as hopping onto IRC to talk to members of this open source community.  Currently I am working on my second bug fix in Neutron. It was fun setting up the development and testing environment.  I think I have installed Ubuntu 14.04 and DevStack at least 10 times.  As the idiom goes "Practice make perfect". I start to like my Dell XPS dual boot laptop more and more because of the speed and the long battery life.

Meeting people in the OpenStack community
I am not sure how to evaluate how I have accomplished this objective. I have met people in person that I know via social media and I passed out all my business card. I get to know a few people and exchanged Email addresses. I guess it takes time to get to know different people in the community.  I will try again if I ever have the chance to attend another OpenStack summit.

Unexpected accomplishment
There are, however, some unexpected things that I have accomplished by attending this summit.  I have signed up for the vBrownBag TechTalk and my topic was "What a beginner should know about OpenStack".  At first I prepare the presentation based on my OpenStack beginner series in which the target audience are developers.  Two days before the vBrownBag TechTalk I have changed the content such that the target audience are architects or IT managers that needs to make business decision.  I started to look at OpenStack from a business point of view instead of technical point of view.  I looked at "Total cost of ownership" and if OpenStack is "enterprise" ready.  This is a new angle on OpenStack that I have never explored before.
Due to the time constrain (I only get 10 minutes to present), I was a bit rush and was not able to communicate to the audience what I  prepared.  You can find my presentation here at YouTube.  This time I tried something new in my presentation.  I started to walk around during my presentation.  I have learned that presentation skill is also useful both internal and external of an organization.  I might not be a product marketing engineer or a technology evangelist, presentation skill is equally useful to talk to upper management on technical subject and their business values.
Another unexpected thing that I have accomplished is to attend the SwiftStack hands on workshop on Friday (May 22).  I get to deploy a swift node and to use cuRL to manage objects.  I was also able to get one of the nice SwiftStack t-shirt with the maple leave design by answering one of the question from the trainer.  At the conference, I went to the SwiftStack booth 4 times and every time the t-shirts are all gone.
Overall, I think attending this OpenStack summit in Vancouver is worth my investment and I am hoping to contribute more to this open source community and get to know more people in this community.