You probably use contribute to several Apache projects. But do you know what goes on behind the scenes at the ASF? Besides all the work of the 200+ project communities, the ASF has an annual budget of about one $million USD to fund the services our projects use. How we manage providing these services – and governing the corporation behind the projects – continues to change and improve.
The ASF is holding it’s annual Member’s Meeting this week to elect a new board and a number of new Members to the ASF. I’m honored to have been nominated to stand for the board election, and I’m continuing my tradition of publicly posting my vision for Apache each year.
We are lucky to have both a large involved membership, as well as another excellent slate of candidates including a couple of great new faces. No matter how Apache STeVe ends up computing the results, Apache will have a great board for the year to come.
Please read on for my take on what’s important for the ASF’s future…
The ASF is holding it’s annual Member’s Meeting this week to elect a new board and a number of new Members to the ASF. I’m honored to have been nominated to stand for the board election, and I’m continuing my tradition of publicly posting my vision for Apache.
We are lucky to have a large roster of excellent director candidates, so no matter how the election turns out we’ll have a stellar board. Given the wide variety of opinions in our candidates, I urge all Apache members to set aside the time this week to carefully consider all the board candidates, as well as all the great new Member nominees. Please vote – and if you’re not free this week, be sure to assign your proxy for the meeting attendance: I and several other Members are happy to proxy for you.
Please read on for my take on what’s important for the ASF’s future…
You know what’s even better than using Hadoop? Using Apache Hadoop!
Even better is Apache Ambari to manage your Apache Cassandra data store through Apache Hive with Apache Pig to make it simpler to write Apache Spark compute flows… Or, if you want it assembled for you, just grab the latest Apache BigTop, which already includes a bunch of Apache Hadoop related packages all together.
How can we do a better job of getting at least a single “Apache Hadoop” into some of the many media stories about Hadoop these days? It’s great that all these vendors are making great technology and projects that power big data, but with all their success and fancy marketing campaigns, you’d think we could get just a tiny bit of credit in the popular press with the actual committers on the core Apache Hadoop project itself. Or any of the other Apache project technologies that these vendors, other software companies – and just about every other company too – rely on every day to help make their websites work.
Would it hurt marketers and journalists and bloggers to throw in just one extra “Apache” before talking about the many free Apache software products that help power more than half the internet?
The ASF and Apache projects give away a tremendous amount of technology every day under our permissive Apache license – always for free. All we ask is respect for our trademarks, and a little bit of credit for the many volunteer communities that build Apache software.
P.S. Apache projects love to get more code, documentation, testing, and other contributions too! And the ASF has a Sponsorship program.
But what we we really want is what every human wants: just a little love. Just an extra Apache here and there makes us feel better.
The ASF recently held it’s Annual Member’s Meeting where all Members of the Foundation cast ballots in the annual election for the Board. We are lucky to have had a number of excellent candidates for the board as always.
The new board comprises:
- Rich Bowen
- Doug Cutting
- Bertrand Delacretaz
- Ross Gardler
- Jim Jagielski
- Chris Mattmann
- Brett Porter (chairman)
- Sam Ruby
- Greg Stein
I also keep a graphical history of the ASF board.
As the ASF grows in projects, communities, and Members, we’re looking forward to continuing to support our now 151 top level Apache projects going forward!
The ASF is holding it’s Annual Member’s Meeting next week, where the Membership elects a new board of directors along with other matters, like voting in new Member candidates. Director candidates write position statements about what their objectives for being a director are in preparation for the Apache board election process. One of the biggest issues for the smooth functioning of the ASF as a home for healthy projects is better explaining how Apache works – so here is my Director Position Statement. You can also read my statement last year and the previous year.
Shane Curcuru (curcuru) Director Position Statement 2014
Over the past couple of years, the ASF has grown to a point where we can no longer efficiently continue to govern, manage, and execute the various operational aspects of the Foundation in support of our nearly 200 project & podling communities with only unpaid volunteers. We need a board that can maintain our fiercely vendor-neutral governance while also expanding and improving the services that we offer to all Apache projects, and this will require finding ways to increase our paid staff .
While the volunteer membership has been amazing throughout our history in helping with governance, mentoring, incubation, and all other aspects of operations, we simply don’t have enough members with time reliably available to provide this level of operational support. With 150+ separate Apache top level projects – each with its own technology, individual community history, and sometimes urgent pace of development — the overall cohesion that marked the earlier years of the Apache organization has been jeopardized. It’s clear from recent requests and issues that we are not providing the level of support – infra, brand/press, fundraising, and community mentoring – that many of our projects expect and require.
With the growth in key project technologies that affect the larger world, we also have a corresponding higher level of expectations from stakeholders outside of the ASF volunteer community. Our sponsors – when we do talk to them about their sponsorships – want us to be more visible in the open source space and show more support to our projects. The many vendors whose employees work on our projects similarly want to be more involved with donations, servers, events, or branding efforts around our projects. Ensuring that this external energy is focused on the Apache project in ways that maintain an independent project governance is critical to the success of both our projects and to the ASF itself.
We need to provide a better API between individual project communities and our service providers (infra, press, brand, legal, fundraising) at the Foundation level. We need to ensure that projects are aware of the services we can provide to support their operations, and make it simple for them to utilize those services. Clear expectations should be set for the level of services that the ASF will provide, as well as governance assistance for those projects that will continue to use external service providers (eg, various marketing@ efforts and many projects’ externally run build/CI/test farms).
To meet the current services needs, and to support increased quality in our governance and operations, the ASF will need to increase our number of paid staff . We need motivated, experienced, and trusted individuals who have the paid time to address the ever-expanding needs of the Foundation, and who can dedicate themselves and their time at a level that is not possible for an unpaid volunteer.
It is also essential that we scale our management and oversight ability of these services and of staff without losing our soul: without compromising our historically independent and volunteer board and governance structures. I don’t know exactly what this path will be: that will be for the next board to decide. But I do believe we are underserving many of the projects at Apache today, and we have no end in sight of new podlings hoping to join us.
If you also believe we need to better provide for the many Apache project communities that trust us to be their home, I hope you’ll cast your first vote for me. Thanks!
Committer since November 1999, Member since 2002, VP Brand Management since 2009.
I am employed by IBM in the HR division as an Applications Architect. My employment and income have been unrelated to my work at the ASF for many years, and I will always clearly separate volunteer work from employer-funded work.
My involvement in the ASF is driven by a belief in, and a love of, the ASF, and is not influenced by politics or finances. I live in Massachusetts with my wife, young daughter, and 2 cats. I view directorships and officer positions at the ASF as serious commitments.
I will attend every board meeting if re-elected.
 NOTE: How we pay for staff is equally important: at this point in the ASF’s history, I imagine either independent contractors as infra operates currently, or using the services of our new accounting firm Virtual, Inc. for some sort of co-employment arrangement, to reduce risk to the ASF.
When push comes to shove and full consensus on governance matters at the ASF or at Apache projects isn’t easily found, it’s important to consider what our underlying objectives are. The mission of the ASF is to produce software for the public good. That’s a good start, but like many concise mission statements, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
There are several aspects of how we expect Apache projects to work that we believe are critical to our mission’s success and longevity. These include things like The Apache Way of: volunteer and collaborative led community built software projects; using the permissive Apache license; and having a consistent and stable brand, infrastructure services, and home for all Apache projects.
We – as in the bulk of the Apache membership and especially the directors that we elect to the board (and thus the corporate officers the board appoints to set policy) – believe that these few core organizational and community management principles are so important for our long term mission that we require these behaviors of all Apache projects. Part of having a consistent brand is showing some level of consistent behavior with the products you produce. Having a shared set of infrastructure services likewise simplifies the process for users to find and use our products. Using the permissive Apache license means that we give maximum freedom to the users of our software, meaning that more users are likely to choose it.
But beyond these core principles, ones we have carefully crafted through experience working on Apache projects and have attempted to minimize when prudent, how do we decide where the ASF should go in the future, or what other, more detailed principles might be important to us? While the officers and directors set the official policies of the ASF as an organization, we look to the constructive input of all Apache members when discussing these ideas.
One recurring meme when discussing “What else should the ASF be/do” has been: “Projects first, or Foundation first?” I.e. is the ASF here to serve the needs of our Apache projects, or have Apache projects chosen to come here to follow the direction of the ASF? Should the ASF decide what kinds of projects we want to join, and decide The One True Technology; or should we simply see what projects show up, and try to support them?
If you picture Eclipse, you can see an example of “Foundation first”: the Eclipse board and leadership – mostly through it’s paying corporate sponsors and de facto corporate-led projects – has an overall vision and drive that explicitly provides direction for it’s projects. Eclipse has full-time staff devoted to “…1) IT Infrastructure, 2) IP Management, 3) Development Process, and 4) Ecosystem Development.” Similarly, the Eclipse board is partially made of appointed members from their Strategic Developer and Strategic Consumer corporations. That leads to strong consistency and direction, primarily for the benefit of the corporations directly or indirectly funding Eclipse projects.
“Projects first” means that the ASF exists to serve the needs of any projects who choose to join us, and who willingly agree to follow our basic rules, like using our license, consensus-driven decisions, and running projects independently of corporations. Our mission is not on behalf of the many corporations who pay their employees to donate code to Apache projects. Our mission is to provide software for the public good – that is, the end users of our software, and the larger world around us.
The ASF doesn’t have an agenda beyond that mission. We don’t have a strategic plan for acquiring projects in specific technologies or from specific corporations. We rely on providing a stable and friendly home for like-minded individuals and communities to build software… for the public good. We certainly hope – and time has shown – that this model will attract vibrant communities that will build useful software. There are plenty of Apache Members and Committers who are passionate about sharing their experiences in software development with others, which is great. But as an organization, we don’t have a strategic plan for seeking out new projects: we believe the best process is to let like-minded projects seek us out.
To ensure that Apache projects focus on the public good, we also require our projects to be run independently of undue commercial influence. Apache projects don’t exist to serve as a vehicle for the corporations who may have donated technology or employee developer hours to them – they exist for the broader public good.
This independence is fundamental to the long-term health of our projects, and to the ASF. It both makes the ASF a place where potentially competing corporations can feel comfortable collaborating on technology (which gets us lots of software for our mission) and also seems to attract plenty of individuals who are interested in participating in our projects – even when changing employers. This independence means that an independent Apache project can continue to exist for the benefit of it’s users even if one of the corporations donating technology to it decides to change direction.
But beyond the core requirements here – ones designed to keep project governance in our independent communities – the ASF strives to not add any additional requirements, but rather to provide the best home to like-minded Apache projects that we can. So in that way, we try to remain focused going forward on putting “Projects first”.
Actually, I should amend that. We do have the core project requirements; ones associated with being an Apache project. So I should really say that we put “Apache projects first”. But beyond that Apacheness that the ASF has developed over 13 years and 190 project communities, we strive to not have an agenda – other than to support those Apache project communities who choose to join us as best we can.
People still reading may also be interested in learning how governance at Apache works.
The ASF recently held it’s Annual Member’s Meeting where all Members of the Foundation cast ballots in the annual election for the Board. I was lucky enough to be elected, so I will be returning to the board, along with new first time Director Chris Mattmann. Everyone also thanked our two outgoing Directors, Rich Bowen and Ross Gardler.
The new board comprises:
- Shane Curcuru
- Doug Cutting (chairman)
- Bertrand Delacretaz
- Roy T. Fielding
- Jim Jagielski
- Chris Mattmann
- Brett Porter
- Sam Ruby
- Greg Stein
I also keep a graphical history of the Apache board.
Apache CloudStack graduated to become a top level project at the ASF last month, and a number of community members have been blogging about their experience. CloudStack started with a company called Cloud.com, was purchased by Citrix, and then was submitted to the Apache Incubator last year to now become a full Apache project.
Along with the great CloudStack software that Apache can now provide that allows you to manage your own public or private IaaS clouds, the Apache community has gained a great new community of committers, users, and PMC members.
Having watched Citrix bring their code and developers to the Apache Incubator, and having watched (and commented on and answered many questions from!) the podling as it grew it’s community and graduated, I’ve been struck by how well the core Citrix contributors and their many other participants really took to the Apache Way.
Both Citrix as an organization (which employs some of the CloudStack committers), and especially the many contributors to the CloudStack project took the incubation process seriously, and have really gone above and beyond to ensure their podling proposal and march to graduation have been about Apache CloudStack, as well as being about an inclusive and meritocratic project.
The desire to get things “right” at Apache was clear in everything the CloudStack community did, and the end result looks to be an incredibly strong project that’s quickly gathering developers from a wide variety of vendors and users. Part of this growth is about the great technology; but a lot is due to the helpful and welcoming face that the CloudStack committers put on their project.
We’ve had a lot of great projects, and many great communities come to the Apache Incubator; there are a lot of people to thank across the tremendous spectrum of no-charge software that the ASF provides for the public good. But I just wanted to mention the extra effort the CloudStack community put into fully embracing the Apache Way. Good job, and thanks!
My father Steven passed away recently after a short and painful bout with pancreatic cancer. Along with a few old friends of his, many of my closest friends called or visited to help organize matters as you might expect in a situation like that. Similarly a very large number of Apache members wrote quite heartfelt emails of support and condolences.
But what struck me the most – surprised me, actually – was the knock on the door from the flower delivery. It took me a moment to realize that the ASF had sent me condolence flowers directly!
I had listed “in lieu of flowers” in the original death notice, so I wasn’t expecting anything like that. It was quite a pleasant surprise, since it was just the right kind of thing to cheer up the house at that point.
More to the point, it underscores how important community is at Apache. Not only do I know I can count on the individual support of the many friends – much like family – that I’ve met there over the years, but the ASF as an organization has a heart for it’s membership and individual contributors as well.
In any case, many thanks to my Apache family.
Obligatory note: I’m also looking forward to seeing many of my readers at ApacheCon NA in Portland, OR next week! I’ll be giving a talk on open source branding, along with many many other Apache family members.
P.S. No disrespect nor allusion to any Native American Apaches or related persons or tribes is meant.