Talking to startup founder Madhura Maskasky as part of our Women of OpenStack series.


Madhura Maskasky knows a thing or two about reaching new heights. After working at Oracle and VMware, she formed part of the founding crew of Platform9, a startup whose mission is to make OpenStack private clouds easy.

She talks to Superuser about container integration, how rock climbing applies to startup life and why three times is the charm for live demos.

What’s your role in the OpenStack community?

As a co-founder of Platform9 which is pioneering a fundamentally differentiated model around deployment of OpenStack private clouds, I am an active member of the OpenStack community. I participate in the form of contributions to OpenStack made by my engineering team, talks and presentations at OpenStack summits, blog posts and technical content around OpenStack components and participation in local meetups/events around OpenStack.

You have given a lot of presentations – what are some of your tips for doing them well? Any advice for live demos?

A single tip – the more you do them, the better you get at doing them :). For live demos, I do a least three independent dry-runs to ensure that they perform.

Why do you think it’s important for women to get involved with OpenStack?

Any tech enthusiast wishing to be part of the open source movement that is powering the private data centers of today and future should get involved with OpenStack. I don’t think this applies any differently to women.

What obstacles do you think women face when getting involved in the OpenStack community?

None, in my opinion. As a community member, you will encounter challenges around slow approval of changes and blueprints, new projects or new integrations requiring a lot of leverage for approval, etc, but these are a side effect of OpenStack being the second most active open source project with participation from members across the world. Women won’t face these challenges any differently from men.

There are always a lot of debates in the OpenStack community – which one is the most important, now?

The popular debate for some time was around OpenStack APIs and Amazon Web Services (AWS) compatibility and I had hoped for it to resolve in favor of AWS APIs. I think it’s critical for standardization.

Recently the popular conversation has been around OpenStack and the popular container orchestration frameworks, specially with demos at the Austin summit on OpenStack on Kubernetes,etc.

My view is that these are independent frameworks that can interoperate to satisfy a broad set of private cloud use cases. For example, Kubernetes can collaborate with OpenStack components such as Keystone, Cinder for a better integration with SSO, persistent storage, etc. for end users.

What’s the highest mountain you’ve climbed?

Tiger Hill — (2,590 meters or about 8,500 feet) near Darjeeling, India.

What lessons do you take from rock climbing into startup life?

Rock climbing taught me how to persistently work on a hard problem, collaborate with partners to build strategy, motivate and help others and finally the satisfaction of conquering a challenge. All of these apply directly to startup life.

OpenStack has been called a lifelong learning project – how do you stay on top of things and/or learn more?

The OpenStack foundation has done a great deal in helping the community keep track of what’s happening. I keep an eye on the OpenStack User Survey, the OpenStack Project Navigator, release notes from each OpenStack major release and activity during each OpenStack summit, among other things, to keep myself aligned with the latest.

You can find out more about her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

_This post is part of the Women of OpenStack series spotlighting the women in various roles in our community who help make OpenStack successful. With each post, we learn more about each woman’s involvement in the community and how they see the future of OpenStack taking shape. If you’re interested in being featured, please email [email protected]._

Cover Photo // CC BY NC