OpenStack has been dubbed by some enthusiasts as the Linux of the cloud - an open source operating system for public or private clouds. But there's one stark difference between the two projects: OpenStack doesn't have a Linus Torvalds, the eccentric, outspoken, never-afraid-to-say-what-he-thinks leader of the Linux world.
Torvalds personifies Linux in many ways. OpenStack doesn't have that one central figure right now. The question is: Does OpenStack need it?
Its about how Linux is run, what goes in, what stays out of the code, and he's not afraid to express his opinions. He provides not only internal guidance for the project, but also an exterior cheerleading role.
Others would say OpenStack does not need a Torvalds of its own. The project is meant to be an open source meritocracy, where members are judged based on their code contributions to the project. OpenStack has been fighting an image that the project is just full of corporate interests, which is part of the reason Rackspace ceded official control of the project to the OpenStack Foundation recently.
What would a Torvalds of OpenStack do? For one, he or she could provide an authoritative voice for the project. The position would allow someone to express a vision for what OpenStack will be, who and what is in the project and where it's going.
Perhaps most importantly, he or she could say no. As OpenStack continues to gain momentum, more and more companies will attempt to leverage the buzz around the project and call themselves OpenStack when they're not. A Torvalds of OpenStack could help keep that in line.
For example, when VMware controversially applied to be a member of OpenStack, there was debate within the foundation's board of directors about if the company would be let in, which it ultimately was. If there is one central figure for the OpenStack project, that decision could have been much easier, instead of taking hours of deliberations and creating what some consider to be wedges within the project.
Here are some people who could step up to the plate and be the Linux Torvalds of OpenStack.
If anyone is the official face of OpenStack right now, it's Bryce. A former member of the OpenStack team at Rackspace, Bryce now serves as the inaugural executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, which coordinates high-level decisions about the future of the OpenStack project. He's the default spokesperson for the project and has clearly taken on a leadership role. At the most recent OpenStack summit, he served as an emcee throughout the show and opened with the first keynote address. Along with his right-hand man Mark Collier, COO of OpenStack, Bryce is pretty much running the day-to-day operations of the project. One question about Bryce: Is he provocative enough to be a Torvalds for OpenStack? He's generally a more conciliatory type than a raucous pot-stirrer. But, who says OpenStack's version of Torvalds needs to be a mirror image of Linus's style?
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