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OpenStack Foundation Board is all about Blocking and Tackling

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The name Alan Clark is a familiar one to those who follow open source governance. Clark sits on the Board of Directors at the Linux Foundation. He was also the former Chairman of the Board of the openSUSE Foundation, and Clark was recently selected to be the first Chairman of the newly formed OpenStack Foundation Board.

In an exclusive interview with InternetNews, Clark explained what his role is at the OpenStack Foundation and how he sees the open source cloud effort moving forward from a governance perspective. OpenStack is a multi-stakeholder effort that includes over 5,600 individual members and major corporate members including: Cisco, Dell, Intel, AT&T, HP, IBM, Rackspace, Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical.

The OpenStack Foundation was officially formed at the end of September in an effort to provide open and transparent governance for the project. As part of the governance structure there is the Board of Directors, which is made up of 24 members.

Clark became the Chairman of Board of Directors at the first meeting of the OpenStack Foundation that occurred at LinuxCon in August.

“During that meeting, one of the action items was to elect a Board chair from amongst the Board members,” Clark said. “The Board decided to elect me at the chair and Lew Tucker from Cisco as the Vice-Chair.”

Both Tucker and Clark put their names forward during the meeting for election to become the Board chair. Clark noted there was no big debate or campaign as part of the process.

With his transition to becoming the Chairman of the Board at the OpenStack Foundation, Clark left his position as Chairman of the Board at the openSUSE Foundation. Simply put, Clark said he was just, ‘too busy.’

Clark remains an active member of the openSUSE community, planning and participating in various industry events. On the commercial side, Clark’s responsibilities for SUSE are all about looking at new initiatives. In addition to his role at the OpenStack Foundation, Clark is active at the Linux Foundation, the Document Foundation and OASIS.

“It all has do with a lot of initiatives in the industry, open source, new standards and so forth,” Clark said.

Much of Clark’s time is spent in meetings, with SUSE product manager and architects discussing and examining new areas that the company should be looking at and incorporating into products.

From a strategic perspective, Clark noted that direction sometimes comes from SUSE management and sometimes from the organizations he is participating in.

OpenStack Board Meetings

The OpenStack Foundation Board meets regularly, mostly over the phone. In terms of what goes on in the meetings and what needs to get done, at this point it’s all about the details. Clark said that many meetings cover the basics such as getting legal documents in order, setting up budgets, hiring employees and creating committees.

“It’s the blocking and tackling, we have to get all that down before we can run,” Clark said.

One thing that the OpenStack Foundation Board is not doing, is dictating the technical direction for the project. Clark explained that the Foundation has both a Board of Director and a Technical Committee.

“One of the actions that the Board undertook was to affirm the Chair of the Technical committee,” Clark said. “It is the Technical Committee that will drive the technical decisions.”

The Future

Clark will remain the Chair of the OpenStack Foundation for a year. Over the course of the year, he expects there to be more strategic discussion about the focus and outlook for OpenStack and its members. There are 24 people on the Board of Directors and that brings a variety of perspectives.

“We’re watching out to make sure that things are equitable for our members around the world and we have continued growth worldwide,” Clark said. “A lot of it is tactical and it’s also about making sure the base is properly fed so it (OpenStack) can grow and be a worldwide organization.” Watch the full video interview below:

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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