What makes a superuser a superuser? By Jonathan Bryce


Jonathan is the Executive Director of the Openstack Foundation. You should follow him on Twitter.

Today we live in a software-defined economy.

I’m not describing an IT trend, mind you. The things we are working on in this community are of higher-order value. Software today is a business issue — a fiscal issue, even. It is a competitive issue. It is a strategic issue. It is an existential issue.

Any organization’s ability to do great things with software is arguably its core competence, no matter the industry, vertical, or category.

What’s more, every business is now competing with a startup, like it or not, and know it or not. Speed and agility are the new table stakes. Being “big,” whether literally or figuratively, carries greater risk than ever.

In a software-defined economy we should be able to be big and small at the same time, canonical and nimble in equal turns, without pause or remorse.

In fact, agility reduces the cost of experimentation, lowering risk and likewise cost. In the software-defined economy we are able to determine what’s valuable more quickly than ever.

We decided to name the new OpenStack publication “Superuser” because superusers make their organizations competitive in a software-defined economy. Superusers are change agents who enable their organizations to build deeply strategic software. Superusers are uniquely effective because they understand the power of great software in context.

Superusers aren’t exclusively users of OpenStack, of course. They deploy a large toolbox in service of technological progress, and that’s a great thing. OpenStack is a part of their story, but not all of it.

What else makes a superuser a superuser?

Superusers are not just assembly-line IT workers. They are key players in the growth of their business. They have a standing seat at the proverbial table.

Superusers are makers and shapers, doers and drivers. Superusers are willing to take risks for non-linear upside. They seek adventure. They love their work. They are more intrinsically motivated than most. Superusers have found their true calling.

Superusers wield software justly, and above all else they aim to leave the community a better place than they found it.

Superusers are markedly unlike the developers and engineers who have come before them. Superusers do things like set up skunkworks to help lines of business operate in a modern way. Superusers are not in that sense parochial. They’re instead generous, and open.

SpaceX is a superuser. Elon Musk’s rocket science startup has nearly put NASA out of business. DigitalFilm Tree is a superuser. They changed the economics of a previously dying post-production industry and have become more profitable. Paypal is a superuser. They are competing with agile, aggressive startups, but have been able to stay ahead of the curve by delivering new features faster. Comcast is a superuser. Disney is a superuser. And there are many more, large and small.

This publication was built to chronicle the work of superusers, and their many accomplishments personally, professionally, and organizationally. Our goal is to amplify their impact. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll bring superusers together to share their stories, and in so doing help shape this new economy in a way that benefits us all.

My ask of you?

Become superusers. And that doesn’t mean you have to contribute code. Share your knowledge in prose, video, and in real life. Give of your time and talent to your peers without asking for anything in return.

Help us tell great stories in these pages, too.

Send us your ideas and your guest contributions. Show us what we’re missing. Pitch us on new ideas. Sends us the names of people and companies whose work deserves a feature story or a profile.

Above all else, strive to be a change agent within your own organization. Carry your work across departmental lines. Develop your business skills and with them enact a cultural shift that will reverberate long after you’re gone. Build companies that aren’t just big, but companies that will cast the future in a wholly different light.

Thanks for visiting the site, and thanks for your trust in this new endeavor. We’re lucky to have your attention and we promise to use it wisely.


Jonathan Bryce,

Executive Director