Almost a year ago, I floated the idea within Citrix of finding a non-profit home for the Xen Project. At this point, I had worked for and with the Xen community for just over a year. We only just implemented community-led Governance and it was clear that at some point Xen would need to become a truly vendor neutral project. You cannot imagine how pleased I was, when almost immediately I got full support from Citrix management to pursue the idea of finding a vendor-neutral home for Xen. We looked at various options and it quickly became clear that The Linux Foundation was the most natural fit for the Xen Project. And then the hard work to pull everything together started … but this is a story for some other time. The good news is that as of today, The Xen Project is a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project with an impressive Advisory Board consisting of companies that will contribute to, fund and guide the non-technical aspects of the Xen Project.
An increase in Diversity
Let’s have a quick recap of Xen Governance Evolution: in early 2011, the developer community largely operated through a set of unwritten rules. This made it hard to join the community. In retrospect this had actually stopped vendors from contributing and was the reason why some early contributors abandoned Xen. Since then, we defined our governance model formalizing values, roles, decision making, the project life-cycle and other areas. Ownership and responsibilities of tasks have been distributed to community members. We also created a forum for distinguished community members (individuals as well as vendors contributing to the project) through the Xen Maintainer, Committer and Developer Meetings, which have evolved into a Project Management Committee (even though we don’t call it a PMC). Also, we have a better approach to planning and generating a Xen Roadmap, a well-defined Security Vulnerability Process and other community initiatives. The effect all this had is that the contributor community grew from 6 organizations contributing more than 1% to the code in 2010 to 13 organizations in 2012. The next logical step for Xen was to become a truly independent open source project, and this has now happened.
Bringing Users and Developers Together
One thing I am really pleased with is the diverse list of companies that joined the Xen Advisory Board to support the project financially.
- Hardware and Silicon vendors such as AMD, Calxeda, Cisco, Intel and Samsung.
- Companies that use Xen in software products such as Bromium, Citrix and Oracle.
- Large scale users of Xen, such as Amazon, CA, Google and Verizon Terremark.
This is a good and healthy mix. Because of Xen’s roots as a University project, it was an almost exclusively developer-focused community. Some even complained that the project didn’t care a lot about its users. But for open source projects to succeed, tending and growing your user base is essential. In the last two years, the community started a program of change and has engaged its user base much more. Having good user representation on the Xen Advisory Board should help foster and accelerate this change. The icing on the cake is the new xenproject.org site (which we are launching as beta today) is designed to be a site for the entire community: bringing users, developers as well as companies together.
For the Xen 4.3 release we have already seen an increased amount of collaboration and up-front planning on issues such as performance and scalability improvements, new features such as PVH and Xen ARM support for ARM based servers, UEFI secure boot, working with upstream projects such as Linux and QEMU, downstream Linux and BSD distros and cloud orchestration stacks. Embedding Xen into the Linux family as a Linux Foundation Collaborative project should lead to more such collaboration as part of the wider Linux and open source community. Of course this will not happen by itself: one of my personal priorities for the rest of this year is that more collaboration happens.
What is going to change?
If you are a Xen User or Developer pretty much nothing initially. Everything will continue to run as it always has. In the longer run, I am confident that the Xen Collaborative Project will lead to more code contributions, better integration with Linux distributions, increased adoption of Xen, more integration with other projects, better marketing and a lot more. All the changes should be positive.
There will be some short-term changes though that will affect you: xen.org will move to xenproject.org, the Xen Logo is changing and we have a new Xen Community website at xenproject.org (which means the old site will be archived). More information can be found at this FAQ.