Red Hat's OpenShift Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering started its life as a mostly proprietary product built on technology acquired from Makara in 2010.
In April of 2012, Red Hat made OpenShift available as open source under the OpenShift Origin effort. Simply making a project open source, however, doesn't make it a true open source community with contribution and collaboration.
Red Hat is now moving to further enable an open source collaborative development model for OpenShift, making it easier for non-Red Hat people to contribute and participate in the platform's evolution. To that end, Red Hat is now moving to a new model for contribution, using a public continuous integration (CI) environment and hosting a community day at the upcoming OpenStack Summit in Portland.
"We've been building up to this point for a long time, but with the announcement of the OpenShift Origin Community Day, we thought the timing was right to reach out to those who might want to get involved," Matt Hicks, director of OpenShift Engineering at Red Hat, told Datamation. "While we will continuously improve, we believe we are very close to allowing users to effectively participate in any capacity, in any part of the project they are interested in, which is a big milestone for us."
The new contribution model will be similar in nature to how the Linux kernel development model currently works with Git 'pull' requests for new features.
"Previously, we were closer to a traditional development setup - our developers had direct access to commit, others did not," Hicks explained. "The real advantage of the pull request model is not in the pull requests themselves but that our developers are going through the same contribution process."
As such, Red Hat is subject to the same tests and rules as everyone else. This allows for the contribution process to be very transparent and objective.
While Red Hat is now changing the way it accepts contributions for OpenShift, Hicks noted that the project has in fact received contributions to the project already. Those contributions include patches, feature enhancements and supplemental capabilities built against OpenShift's REST APIs.
"We also have a strong base of users experimenting with cartridges and quickstarts and making regular contributions there," Hicks said. " Lastly, although not in patch form, some of our most valuable contributions have been from user discussions around features and ideas on IRC, our mailing lists and Google+."
Red Hat is no stranger to the community development, having pioneered it in its core Linux platform business as well as in its JBoss Java middleware business units.
Hicks explained that OpenShift Origin relates to OpenShift Online and OpenShift Enterprise in much the same way that Fedora relates to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. OpenShift Enterprise is the on-premise version that was recently updated to version 1.1.
"OpenShift Origin is the upstream project for all of our work - it's fast moving and focused on providing a collaborative environment," Hicks said. "OpenShift Online and OpenShift Enterprise are both derived from this codebase and provide a longer, stable lifecycle with world class support for applications running on the platform."
Hicks stressed that the goal for OpenShift is to become the standard for PaaS in the industry. In order to achieve that goal, Red Hat knows it must involve the broader community and that's why OpenShift Origin is so critical.
"Creating a successful open source community isn't a quick or easy effort, but it's one that takes time, investment and a willingness to listen," Hicks said. "Much of the success of OpenShift goes to our users and their willingness to participate and guide us and I expect that to continue to grow as we go forward."