I just saw this announcement from the OpenStack Foundation about OpenStack’s 10th birthday! Yes, 10 years ago this week was the first OpenStack Summit, in Austin, TX, with the public announcement the following week at O’Rielly OSCON. Yet most people don’t know that I played a very critical role in the beginning!
OpenStack began as a joint venture between Rackspace (my employer at the time) and NASA. I was on the team at Rackspace that developed and supported its aging cloud compute services, and we were looking to develop something from scratch that could be much more scalable than our current system. Around that time Thierry Carrez saw an announcement from a group at NASA about their development of a compute virtualization system, and suggested to the powers that be at Rackspace that this might be a better way to go instead of developing the whole thing ourselves. From that followed a lot of discussion among the executives at Rackspace, as well as some conversations with NASA, and the conclusion was that we would team up. One of the first things to do was to get the developers for both groups together to discuss things from a more technical perspective. And this is where I believe that I made a critical decision that, had I chosen wrong, might have resulted in OpenStack never happening.
The NASA team was a consulting group, Anso Labs, and they were arriving in San Antonio, and we had plans to take them out to dinner, but no idea where. It was then that I suggested The Cove, a local place with lots of outdoor seating, a relaxed atmosphere, good beer, and delicious food. We had a great time that evening, and we all got to know each other. Had we been in a more conventional restaurant, people may have only gotten to know the people sitting next to them, but since The Cove is open seating, we moved around a lot, talking about both the technical stuff and personal stuff.
Over the next few days we began reviewing the code and exchanging idea on what needed to be developed next, and those discussions went very smoothly, getting a lot done in a short period of time. I still maintain to this day that without that first night having beer and food at The Cove, OpenStack might never have become the success that it did.