Congratulations to the 2013 Apache Board of Directors

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.

Shane’s Apache Director Position Statement 2013

The ASF is holding it’s Annual Member’s Meeting this coming week, where the Membership elects a new board of directors along with other matters, like voting in new Member candidates. While I was nominated last year, I was not elected. I would have been sad about not getting a seat, except for the fact that such other fabulously good people got elected instead (including two new directors who got to serve their first terms, Rich and Ross, yay!).

Director candidates at the ASF write position statements about what their objectives for being a director are in preparation for the voting process. Since I write what I believe in, I also am posting my statement here, publicly. One of the biggest issues for the smooth functioning of the ASF as a home for healthy projects is doing a better job of explaining how we work – I hope this helps people understand us Apache types just a little bit better. You can also see what I wrote last year.

If you’re wondering how governance at Apache really works, I’ve written an Apache governance overview too.


Shane Curcuru (curcuru) Director Position Statement

v2.0 statement

As the ASF scales in people, projects, and impact on the world, we
need directors that can ensure our organization stays true to it’s
ideals; that can delegate appropriately and efficiently to officers
and PMCs; and especially that can communicate calmly, clearly,
and consistently in all of their communications.

As we surpass one million $ in assets, with thousands of committers, nearly a gross of projects, and an huge impact both on the software world with our technology, and on the larger world of computer users with our products, I believe it’s important to do an even better job of explaining what the ASF is about and how the Apache Way works.

While we don’t need more rules, we do need to do a much better job of explaining what our few hard requirements are, as well as showcasing the wealth of best practices that our projects have created. This is important both to let the world know who we are, and also to ensure that the many different communities of contributors can more easily understand how to work with our projects.

With the fast growing scale of our organization, it is critical that directors and corporate officers can communicate clearly, calmly, and professionally in all of their Apache related activities – whether or not they’re explicitly showing which hat they’re wearing at the moment. As our impact grows, so does the impact of our words, both inside our communities, attracting (or not) new members to our communities, and also on the larger world of corporations, universities, and other computer using peoples. Even if we as long-time denizens of members@ understand which hat a director or officer is wearing when they speak, most other human beings and most other contributors don’t necessarily see the distinction.

It has been a long time since we held in-person member’s meetings
where everyone knew each others personal style. As we grow,
we need to be sure that we’re making it easy for new members and
contributors to feel welcomed and understand how Apache works. We also need to ensure that we both can keep the sense of family and enjoyable, collaborative community that the membership and our projects have, and that we manage the affairs of the ASF and of our projects in a consistent, documented, and professional manner.

About Shane

I’ve been a committer since November 1999, a Member since 2002,
and 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 elected.

Meritocracy and Hierarchy at Apache

Apache is actually governed in two ways: by the meritocracy of the Apache Way, and the hierarchy of the Apache Software Foundation. We strive to govern ourselves as much by meritocracy (and consensus) as possible, and as little by hierarchy as is practical for non-profit corporation. This has a number of both practical effects, as well as a number of social corollaries.

The ASF prides itself in running as a community-based meritocracy of peers. That is, within each project community, people participate as individuals and gain merit as measured by that community. The community recognizes your merit by voting people in as committers or PMC members. A new committer can vote on certain kinds of code changes, and can checkin their own code. PMC members vote on new committers and product releases.

In Apache projects the underlying cliché is correct: those who are doing the work get to make the decisions. A healthy community will seek consensus over the direction of the project, and typically only uses [VOTE]s to solve thorny technical issues that don’t come to a clear consensus. Similarly, PMC members each have one vote on elections for new committers or PMC members; decisions within projects are made by the community as a whole. Technical governance is always done by meritocracy.

Even within the Foundation – i.e. the Delaware registered non-profit corporation that makes the ASF a legal entity – we strive to govern by meritocracy as well. Nominating new members and electing the board of directors are the obvious rights of members, and these are discussed and judged based on individuals’ merit towards the various Apache projects and to the ASF as a whole.

Similarly while the board appoints individuals to serve as corporate officers with specific delegated powers, all Apache members are allowed to subscribe to any mailing lists and participate across various ASF activities. Various members step up to work on policy, corporate, legal, treasury, and many other tasks that are needed in any corporation, always working with the relevant officers. Again, those who do the work decide how it gets done.

In these organizational tasks, it’s not always as clear how to reach consensus on contentious issues. Social issues or corporate governance questions don’t often have as simple a metric to measure against as technical issues do. Code either works or it doesn’t; corporate policy often has a very different kind of judgement. Similarly, with an active membership (with many very passionate individuals!), finding consensus on non-technical questions amongst 100+ individuals is often difficult. Here, hierarchy steps in to govern.

In most cases this works smoothly. Either the relevant officer will make a policy decision and publish it, or the board will pass a resolution or clearly ask for a change. While the whole community – the membership, the various PMCs of Apache projects – may not have a consensus on the decision, it is still policy, and projects will generally work to make the change.

In some cases, this doesn’t. A key way that the board ensures there is sufficient oversight of all Apache projects is by requiring reporting: monthly for officers; quarterly for PMCs / projects. There have been cases where PMCs have not reported regularly, or have not provided sufficient details to the board’s satisfaction in their reports. In these cases, the board will require a new or updated report. This is not a question of merit, or getting a consensus: this is an order. Non-response to a board request or not following an officer’s policy will and does result in the board stepping in to force changes within the project. As they say in politics, officers serve at the pleasure of the board.

It seems that sometimes this switch from meritocracy – where everyone in the PMC has an equal say, and they reach consensus – to hierarchy – where the board says “jump” – sometimes catches people by surprise. Sometimes, it seems that some PMC members just never really thought about the fact that the ASF is a legal corporation, and must follow certain rules. Other times, this surprise is clearly exacerbated by poor communication in specific cases between the board and projects. While cases like this really aren’t a choice – the board can and will dissolve or reconstitute projects (always as a last resort!) – it is important to clearly explain the issues and why this kind of hierarchy is needed in some cases.

Has anyone else had this feeling? Of switching between meritocracy, and consensus among the community, to hierarchy, and the board simply making a decision? How can we improve the handling of future issues like this, to ensure we keep the maximum meritocratic freedom within our projects, while still ensuring the legal shield of the ASF is secure and can function for the long term?


I’ve been thinking about this lately since I recently drew up a new org chart here for the ASF as a whole. Note that the hierarchy part only comes in on organizational, legal, and similar matters – technical decisions are always in the meritocratic hands of the PMCs and projects. More reading can be found on some of these excellent slides about Apache and open source.

Apache Governance: Board of Directors

This is the first in a series of essays describing Apache governance. While there are a number of existing documents that explain some of the “hows”, I’m hoping to fill in some of the key information about the “whys” of how the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) actually works day-to-day. Look for more articles on things like the Membership, PMCs, projects, and more coming up!

Organization

The board consists of 9 directors, each serving as an individual. After each annual board election, the board chooses a Chairman from it’s ranks. This is currently done a couple of months after the board election, to give the new board a chance to get to know one another. The board also appoints executive officers for the corporation at that time.

The board meets by conference call and IRC chat monthly. The agenda is published privately to the Membership. All corporate officers make a monthly written report to the board, and every Project Management Committee (PMC) makes a quarterly written report to the board. In this way, the PMCs report directly to the board, not to the President or other corporate officers. All ASF Members and invited guests are welcome at board meetings, except during very rare executive sessions of the board.

Currently, the average monthly agenda includes 10 corporate officer reports, 40 PMC reports, and often a handful of official resolutions. To ease the review process for reports, reports are due well before the meeting begins, and many directors “preapprove” reports by initialing them in the agenda file before the meeting. Each PMC report is assigned a director to serve as “shepherd” for the month; any questions raised before or during the meeting are taken by the shepherd back to the relevant officer or PMC for an answer or resolution. PMCs that report late or where serious questions are raised during the meeting may be asked to provide an additional report at the next monthly meeting.

The President is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations, and helps to coordinate the work of the VP, Infrastructure and the sysadmin team; however VP, Infrastructure also makes a monthly report directly to the board. In this way, the board exercises oversight over all official Foundation activities.

Legal

Article V. of the ASF bylaws specifies a Board comprised of 9 Directors, elected annually by the ASF Membership. The Apache Board is much like the board of directors of any other corporation, responsible for “…management of the corporate assets (funds, intellectual property, trademarks, and support equipment) and allocation of corporate resources to projects.”

The board is responsible for appointing any officers of the ASF, including executive officers – President, Secretary, Treasurer – and other officers, both those with corporate functions (Legal, Publicity), and Vice Presidents of individual Apache projects. The board also sets overall policy for Apache projects, or in many cases, delegates the details of policy setting and implementation to specific corporate officers. Official resolutions are used to appoint or change officer positions, create new Top Level Projects (TLPs) or retire unused projects, and in certain cases to make fundamental policy decisions. Most policy is simply agreed upon by the board and any relevant officer(s), and published on our website.

Communication

With the exception of monthly conference calls, board communication is done over private mailing lists. The board@apache.org mailing list is the primary place where official business is done. All directors, corporate officers and PMC chairs are expected to subscribe to this mailing list and track issues relevant to their areas of responsibility. Many ASF Members also participate, comment, and help resolve issues where appropriate.

Directors will regularly read and participate on various project mailing lists when a board-level issue or question has been raised. This participation is done wearing their board hat: i.e. as a strategic voice, addressing broad ASF policies or important community health issues. Directors participate technically in Apache projects as individuals: directors are not automatically granted committerships, PMC memberships, or even binding votes on any project matters. Directors wishing to influence the technical work of a project must gain merit and be voted in as a committer to that specific project like any other contributor.

Meetings

The board exercises oversight of Apache Projects by reviewing project reports at the monthly board meeting, and by explicitly approving all changes to PMC membership. When PMCs have voted in and nominated a new committer to serve on the PMC, they ask the board for an ACK, or acknowledgment, of the addition. Once any one director sends an ACK email, the official PMC membership roster is updated after a 72 hour wait, designed to give other directors a chance to comment or question the appointment before it is officially recorded.

PMCs are expected to provide accurate and thorough reports to the board of their community health and technical and software release activities. Projects that do not report or have serious issues in their report will be contacted by that month’s shepherd or another director to find a resolution. In extreme cases, where a PMC is dysfunctional or is not following required Apache policies, the board may unilaterally make changes to the PMC or may dissolve a project to correct the issue.

Merit

Board elections are held annually; currently, each board seat is for one year, so all 9 directorships are voted on annually. ASF Members are eligible to nominate people for board seats as well as to vote in the board election. Director candidates run individually, and Member votes are currently cast by Single Transferable Vote (STV). All nominations, position statements, and voting are conducted electronically either over private mailing lists or using our own software for casting votes. Individual votes are kept anonymous, although the full STV calculations are published privately amongst the Membership.

In the past, only existing Members with some history within the ASF have been nominated. While the bylaws allow for any person to be nominated for the board, the amount of trust and expected experience with the Apache Way for directors is such that nominees outside of the existing Membership are unlikely for the time being.

For the first several years after incorporation the board was quite stable, with a majority continuing to serve repeatedly. As the ASF grew in membership around 2004, the board began to change somewhat, with a few new faces appearing each year. Jim Jagielski, one of the founders of the ASF, has remained on the board since it’s beginning.

Directors are expected to serve as individuals on the board, representing the Membership and acting in the best interests of the ASF as a whole. Directors are expected to disclose any conflicts of interest they may have due to their current employment, and recuse themselves when necessary from votes or potentially discussions on subjects they have a conflict with.

Community

While Directors participate in a variety of communities both within and outside of the ASF, the primary community home for directors is the Membership. Most directors follow the main private Members mailing list, where any ASF Member start discussions about a wide variety of topics, spanning from new technologies, policy ideas, questions about project communities, or even personal announcements of weddings and births.

From time to time Directors participate in the communities of various Apache projects when a board-level issue or question is raised; however they do so wearing their individual Director hat. Many Directors are separately committers or PMC members on a variety of Apache projects, where they do technical and community work just like any other committer, wearing a committer hat.

Many Directors also serve in the public community; serving as spokespeople for the Apache Way or granting interviews about the ASF or our projects, or reviewing other open source or charitable foundation works.

Technical

The board does not provide technical direction for any of it’s projects or activities. The board does set broad policies – for example, requiring that all source control systems are run on ASF hardware, and controlled by ASF Infrastructure. Technical direction – either in terms of how to implement infrastructure or what code projects should work on is all delegated to the PMCs or relevant officers.

While this may be a surprise to some, it is a key reflection of how the ASF is intentionally structured to provide maximum freedom to it’s projects. The board and the ASF are happy to provide a home to any software project communities that are willing to follow the Apache Way. The mission of the ASF is to provide software for the common good: we are happy to help like-minded communities to provide that software; are confident that communities will form around software that is useful; and understand that there are many different ways to effectively and collaboratively build software.

Resources

Shane’s Apache Director Position Statement

The ASF is currently holding it’s annual Member’s meeting, where we elect a new board of directors among other matters (and usually elect a number of new ASF Members!) I am fortunate enough to have been nominated again for the board election, something which I am truly grateful for.

Along with participating in Apache projects and in various organizational ways within the ASF, director candidates typically write a brief (or not so brief) position statement about what their objectives as a director are. These position statements are included in the board ballot that all active Members of the ASF vote on to elect a new board.

Re-reading my position statement, I’ve realized that there’s nothing I’m discussing in my position statement that I wouldn’t mind posting in public – in fact, the more I think about it, this is something I should post in public to try to better explain just how Apache works. As the ASF grows, it becomes more and more important for Members to explain how the ASF works and why it’s core values and the Apache Way are important to us.


Shane Curcuru (curcuru)–Director position statement –v1.1

=============

My mission statement for the ASF

“The mission of the ASF is to provide high quality, open source software for the public good at no cost, and to showcase our meritocratic and community-driven method of building sustainable software projects.”

http://shane.curcuru.name/blog/2009/04/what-i-believe-asf-mission/

Why you should make me your first choice

Because you believe we need to understand the global community in which we interact, while still keeping our neutrality, our public mission, and our projects foremost in our minds. Because you believe in community over code. Because you believe in keeping hats separate, our communities public and open, our organization as simple as feasible, and in making it as easy as possible for our healthy communities to build great software. Because you want board members who recognize the need to work together productively.

My objective as a director and as VP, Brand Management is to provide our projects with the support they need to ensure that our organization and our projects can continue as independent and healthy communities for the long haul. Ensuring that we can control our public perception – our brands – without commercial influence is crucial to ensuring our PMCs and the ASF as a whole remains a neutral place where all contributors are welcomed and can participate equally, and where PMC decisions are made for the benefit of the project itself.

My vision for the ASF

My ideal ASF is a respected, innovative, and neutral collaboration ground for communities and software projects. It’s a place where hobbyists, consultants, and developers from $bigcos collaborate together – easily, freely, equally and openly – building high quality software usable by all. The ideal ASF is known as a place that community-minded software projects can easily join, and that provides a rich technical infrastructure to facilitate the development process.

Our value to the world includes our software products, our community and consensus-based approach to software development, and the way our proven record of success has increased the global acceptance of open source products as a whole.

This past board has worked together well and has been very effective at finding consensus without rancor in the face of some significant challenges. As the ASF grows in members, projects, and technical influence, it is important to be able to keep true to our ideals and still maintain our friendships and respect within the membership.

About Shane

I recently had my 20th anniversary at IBM, where I work 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 Arlington, MA with my wife, young daughter, and 2 cats. I view directorships and officer positions at the ASF as serious commitments. I will continue my attendance at every board meeting if re-elected.

Most importantly, my daughter Roxanne asked me to mention that you should vote for me because I’m the best dad ever. (unsolicited quote!)

Addenda – Public Work

I truly believe that we should work in as public a manner as practical, for public work is a key enabler of healthy and growing communities. As the ASF has grown in size and impact on the software world, it is clear that we do need to keep some specific discussions private, especially discussions on various legal matters.

In that light, I am publishing this statement on my blog in this posting.


Reminder: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of my employer nor of any volunteer organization I work with.”

Congratulations to the new Apache Board

The Apache Software Foundation held it’s Annual Member’s Meeting this week and cast votes to elect a new board of directors as we do each year. We also elected a number of new potential members, who may be receiving their private invitations shortly.

The new 2010-2011 Board of Directors comprises:

  • Shane Curcuru
  • Doug Cutting
  • Bertrand Delacretaz
  • Roy T. Fielding
  • Jim Jagielski
  • Sam Ruby
  • Noirin Shirley
  • Greg Stein
  • Henri Yandell

We welcome Noirin Shirley, who will be a new face on the board this year. We also welcome back Henri, Sam, and Bertrand who have served on the board in the past; the remaining directors are incumbents.

A big round of thanks went out during our meeting (on irc) for all of the non-returning directors Brett, Geir, Brian, and especially for Justin Erenkrantz who has also been serving as the Foundation’s President as well as a director.

See also the official ASF Foundation blog posting with the announcement.

A graphical history of the directors of the ASF is also available.

apache.numprojects -= 1; apache.karaf.intro = “Welcome!”

For only the fourth time in our history at last month’s June board meeting we passed resolutions that effectively reduced the total number of Apache projects by one.

  • As was widely expected, the board terminated the Apache iBATIS project, and sent it to the Apache Attic. This recognizes that we don’t expect there to be an active Apache iBATIS community, and that we don’t expect there to be any new development in that project for a while. The Apache Attic will continue to provide all the project’s resources on a read-only basis for any existing users. (Note: current users may also be interested in the external fork over at mybatis.org)
  • The board also terminated the little-known Apache Quetzalcoatl project and moved it to the Attic. “Quetz” had been charged with developing the mod_python module, but it never really took off as an organized Apache project. Current users may be interested in finding the sources over at modpython.org
  • In happier news, the board voted to promote an Apache Felix subproject named Karaf to top-level status. Apache Karaf is a small OSGi based runtime which provides a lightweight container onto which various components and applications can be deployed. The Felix PMC had seen that there was sufficient community around just the Karaf subproject that it deserved to have it’s own project.

So that’s two projects down, but one project up for the month of June.

iBATIS and Quetz both join previously retired projects in the Attic, HiveMind, Shale, AxKit, Xang, Beehive, and Jakarta Taglibs. Each are projects that had lost an effective Apache community able to actively develop them.

In the past, the ASF has also terminated a handful of other projects before the Attic was opened in 2008; those include Apache Commons (the first version) and Apache Avalon, both terminated for community issues. The ASF also once had an Apache PHP project that was terminated; in that case it was a happy and mutual separation of the PHP Group from the ASF.

Resolutions for creating and terminating Apache projects are passed by the board, typically at monthly meetings, and our public records of formal board actions are always available.

Stay tuned for news of the upcoming Annual Member’s Meeting of the ASF being held in mid-July, where we’ll also be electing a new board of directors.

Congratulations to the new Board!

The ASF just concluded it’s annual member’s meeting, where we elected a new board of directors. Before I list them here, I want to say what gets said at every member’s meeting when we elect a new board:

THANK YOU! To the hard work and dedication from all the past board members, and our executive officers.

This is in no way to overlook the work that all our committers have willingly donated to the ASF’s mission of producing software for the public good.  But it is a recognition of the steps above and beyond that serving as a director or officer of the ASF requires.

The new board of directors for the ASF are:

  • Shane Curcuru
  • Doug Cutting
  • Justin Erenkrantz
  • Roy T. Fielding
  • Jim Jagielski
  • Geir Magnusson Jr
  • Brian McCallister
  • Brett Porter
  • Greg Stein

I’ve also compiled a updated graphical history of ASF directors.