Collaborative Culture Spotlight: OpenStack Days Mountain West

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openstack feature heroHow do you deploy OpenStack from Master with minimal local patches, and simultaneously improve cross-team and upstream collaboration?

Send everyone to pirate school!

No, seriously—it works.

A little background

IBM Cloud OpenStack Innovator, Christopher Aedo, recently presented on this topic at OpenStack Days Mountain West in Salt Lake City.

In his talk, “Transforming Organizations with OpenStack,” he explained the advantages of deploying from Master:

  • You’ll be ahead of nearly every other cloud by a year (or more)
  • You’ll have access to new features and fixes ASAP
  • You’ll lead the community

After developing a clear set of steps and guidelines for deploying OpenStack both continuously and locally, feedback was shared internally at IBM and the process became wildly popular. New tests were popping up, teams were asking questions and needing support. Most importantly, knowledge gaps were identified.

And that’s where Pirate School was born: realizing that the people and processes are actually more vital to deployment success than the tools.

So, plane tickets were bought, hotel rooms were booked and the team took the classrooms to their collaborators.

The feedback was unanimous: Pirate School was awesome.

  • Dev, staging and production was deployed with the same code
  • Testing was more effective due to confidence in commits, fewer bugs and faith in coworkers
  • The collective use of Ansible (playbooks) and Gerrit (code reviews) helped keep everything on track

In the absence of silos, dev, staging and production were deployed with the same code, crucial upstream code reviews were taking place and there were far fewer bugs in the tree. On a larger scale, IBMers gained a greater appreciation for the open source process, they increased developer velocity and improved collaboration upstream and across geographical boundaries.

To celebrate their achievements, upon deployment each Pirate School class received a flag to proudly display:


The results of pirate school are proof positive that creativity, community and culture are crucial elements to collaborative success.


Worldwide Portfolio Marketing Manager, IBM Bluemix Private Cloud

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