What is an OpenStack superuser? | Opensource.com

What is an OpenStack superuser?

Posted 23 May 2014 by 

Jason Baker (Red Hat)
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What is an OpenStack superuser? Or perhaps more aptly, who is an OpenStack superuser? As OpenStack continues to mature and slowly make its way into production environments, the focus on the user is continuing to grow. And so, to better meet the needs of users, the community is working hard to get users to meet the next step of engagement by highlighing those users who are change agents both in their organization and within the OpenStack community at large: the superusers.

To help build this community, the OpenStack Foundation last week launched a new publication dedicated to telling the story of superusers. Executive Director Jonathan Bryce gave his take on what a superuser is, and how this new community might leverage their stories to advance the OpenStack community for everyone:

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.

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.

The landscape of IT has changed. And not just in big-picture ways defining the roles of information workers within an organization. So too has changed the expectations that come with managing a cloud environment. No matter how well-documented the software may be, let's face it: building and maintaining a cloud isn't easy. While in the "olden days" of server management, administrators could sometimes get away with being an expert in a single silo—storage specialists, networking gurus, virtualization masters—the cloud is changing the demands being placed on the men and women responsible for server management. Now, more than ever, a cloud administrator is becoming a jack-of-all-trades, and at various points, perhaps a master of those trades as well.

The truth is, of course, no one can be a master of everything. Helping administrators of clouds move into this new reality of knowledge requirements is going to require an active support community. And OpenStack, I believe, has reached the level of maturity and adoption where actively working to build community isn't just something that should be done; indeed, it should a number one priority. Creating those connections, between individuals and organizations who are innovating, is essential to multiplying the success of everyone in the OpenStack community.

It's also a good time to point out that community isn't a replacement for professional support, of course, and visa versa. They complement one another, and for the enterprise, both are undoubtedly necessary. Organizations may look outside of their walls for support to ensure stability, functionality, and to find new innovative ideas. They need to understand what their peers are doing, what works, what does not, and what is worth the time to pursue. Giving back the stories of their own experience builds not only their credibility but furthers the relationships upon which smart organizations rely upon for innovation.

And that's what open source is all about. It's not the code, it's the atmosphere of collaboration, sharing, and rapid prototyping that can transcend the mere technical aspects and help drive the direction of a software community. The OpenStack community is wise to broaden their approach to include the social and community aspect, and the Superuser publication is an excellent step in that direction.

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Jason is passionate about using technology to make the world more open, from software development to bringing sunlight to local governments. He is particularly interested in data visualization/analysis, DIY/maker culture, simulations/modeling, geospatial technologies, and cloud computing, especially OpenStack. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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