“There are no limits to what can be achieved if we bring the best minds of the world together to solve common problems.”


This post is part of the Women of Open Infrastructure series to spotlighting the women in various roles in the community who have helped make the Open Infrastructure successful. With each post, we learn more about each woman’s involvement in the community and how they see the future of Open Infrastructure taking shape. If you’re interested in being featured or would like to nominate someone to tell their stories, please email [email protected].

This time we’re talking to Amy Wheelus, VP – Broadband and Video Systems at AT&T. She tells Superuser about how she became an active member in the community, and why it’s important for women to get involved with open source.

What’s your role (roles) in the Open Infrastructure community?

In my previous role within AT&T, I led our Network Cloud team which is responsible for AT&T’s internal private network cloud. This team is very active in the Open Infrastructure community, and I had the privilege to support my team in their efforts in Open Infrastructure. I served in the capacity of evangelist for the use of open source software within AT&T and within the telecommunications industry. One specific area that I was involved with in the last year was the creation of the CNTT Common NFVi Telco Task Team whose mission was to create a small number of common reference architectures and implementations. It was a really exciting endeavor and the first reference architecture was based on OpenStack.

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

Just like most of the technology industry, the Open Infrastructure community is male dominated, but in the few years that I have been an active participant, I’ve seen an increase in the number of women presenting talks and taking leadership roles in the community. I think that we have to continue to spotlight women who are changing the game and highlight contributions from women across the field from developers to code reviewers to leaders in their companies.

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

Open Source is about working together to solve common problems and the best way to do that is with diverse thought.  Women think differently than men – not better and not worse – just differently and it is this difference of viewpoint that is important to creating solutions as a team. This is what Open Source is all about – bringing a diverse group of people together to work for the good of everyone.  We need the diversity of thought that women bring to the table.

Efforts have been made to get women involved in open source, what are some initiatives that have worked and why?

I think the best initiatives are when others are personally invested in getting women involved.  We need to each personally commit to encouraging and supporting a woman to become more involved in open source.  If each person (male and female) were to encourage one woman to get more involved – think of the impact that could have on the open source community.

Open source moves very quickly. How do you stay on top of things and what resources have been important for you during this process?

You aren’t joking when you say that open source moves very fast – it is difficult to stay on top of everything going on which is why it is important to focus your energy on a few areas where you can make a difference.  The OpenStack website is a great resource on infrastructure. Linux Foundation’s Open Source Networking site is another resource that I use to stay on top of the trends in the telecommunications and networking areas.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in open source? What do you wish you had known?

Open source gives the opportunity to work with hundreds of people around the world to solve common problems. It gives people the opportunity to explore many different areas. If I had understood how working upstream in open source could eliminate costs for my company many years ago, I would have been a believer sooner. I think women can flourish in open source careers whether it is in the technical expert areas or in the management areas. There are no limits to what can be achieved if we bring the best minds of the world together to solve common problems.