The Product Working Group will embark on a listening campaign to improve dialogue between developers and their managers


End-users and developers often feel like they stand on distant shores, viewing the other camp as an unfamiliar tribe. Also, shouting doesn’t help and smoke signals are a bit unreliable.

To bridge that divide, OpenStack’s Product Working Group met to devise ways to bring those groups closer together and provide the community of contributors the resources they need.

Hosted on VMWare’s Palo Alto campus, the two-day get-together (officially the OpenStack Product Management Kilo Midcycle) covered topics ranging from DefCore and RefStack as well as brainstorming a charter for the group.

The Product Working Group gathers managers, people, functions and groups that own “products” based on OpenStack who aim to “improve the quality of the delivery process, the delivered product and the product experience for operators and end users.” It formally launched at the Paris Summit, fruit of earlier discussions on the role of product managers in OpenStack as “hidden influencers.”

“Developers don’t operate in a vacuum, and their success or failure at contributing to open source projects depends heavily on the support (or lack of support) they receive from the management context they operate in,” said software developer Allison Randal, who currently heads up open source strategy at Hewlett-Packard.

The outcome of the recent meeting? About 30 attendees from companies including Dell, Cisco, Intel, HP, Red Hat and Mirantis engineered a plan to provide resources for developers and reviewers and how to accomplish that plan.


For starters, they’ll go to OpenStack Project Team Leads (PTLs) on a listening campaign. The goal is to discover pain points for PTLs and devise ways to get the teams the resources they need to build a better OpenStack. With a list of these pain points, the PM team can better allocate underutilized developers.

“There are a bunch of not-engaged developers that if we gave them specific things to do in OpenStack, they could get involved,” said OpenStack Foundation board member Sean Roberts. “Managers want to know their developers are working on something specific. They’re fine dedicating time to open source as long as it’s not completely vague.”

To see more of what went on, check out the video of Day 1, and video of Day 2. The Etherpad of the meetup is available here.

You can find out more about the team or join the mailing list here.

Cover Photo by Evan Forester // CC BY NC; Rochelle Grober of Huawei, Brian Rosmaita of Rackspace and Stefano Maffulli of the OpenStack Foundation at the Product Working Group meeting.