Re: my perspective on where we are with the single controller code base issue


Kyle Forster
 

David / all -

I'd be happy to provide some stats on what a "tyranny of the majority
committers" looks like from outside -- the asymmetric effort required
to add interfaces to one project versus the other -- but let me do
that on a separate thread in order to keep this one moving forward.
I'm still optimistic that we can spot these patterns that we've seen
in other SDN projects and protect against them in Daylight projects.

In terms of next steps, if I read the charter notes you posted
correctly, they would imply that committers and new project proposals
are not TSC decisions but rather project-level decisions. Sounds
healthy.

I'd suggest then (to the community writ large) that David and Colin
propose a new 'merged controller' project with the two of them as the
leads and we follow the design and process route they've advocated on
list for that project.

For developers who need to build on the prod Floodlight components
while we're porting them to the SAL, there is a repo for that. We're
in that boat with the D-E design already.

For developers who need to build on the SAL while it is in flight to
get ready for the prod Floodlight components, there is a repo for
that. We're in that boat with the D-E design already.

For developers who need to build on a controller that starts empty but
most resembles the end design state over the next few months, the new
D-E project repo would fit that purpose. Their pushing will create
natural demand pull for prioritizing the porting of SAL and Floodlight
implementations in to the D-E end state.

I'd argue this puts the power where it should be -- in the hands of
developers writing apps along the D-E design -- and gives all of us
in the controller-oriented projects a *lot* of incentive to serve them
well.

(It also gives David and Colin much deserved independent seats on the
TSC. David was the author of Beacon, the codebase that spawned both
implementations. It feels like the 'right thing' to do that he have a
formal role there as well as in the community at large from his sweat
if not his $$$.)

-K

On May 15, 2013, at 8:33 AM, David Meyer <dmm@...> wrote:

Kyle/all,

On Wed, May 15, 2013 at 7:04 AM, Kyle Forster
<kyle.forster@...> wrote:
Dave (and other members of the community) -

The folks that work here at BSN are here to make Daylight as successful as
we can, but i) we owe transparency about our over-arching concern (that we
think is valid for a large swath of the community), ii) we'd like to go to a
few facts and iii) we'd like to chart a productive path forward.
In further considering the below, please find my comments in line.


-------

Transparency --

The over-arching concern that we (BSN folk) have tried to mitigate with
design and process proposals is a "tyranny of the committer majority"
problem in the controller project, a situation where a highly concentrated
group of committers blocks well intentioned progress by teams around them
whose applications call for different design trade-offs and timing
priorities.

This where
competing companies are regularly locked out from material commits. The
result is an awkward amalgamation of open and closed source components
across a handful of companies now, a trail of open source that isn't broadly
used in production and a lot of confusion.

The problem isn't because the concentrated group of committers in these
projects have been evil, or dumb, or mean. They simply prioritize designs
for the needs they see and add friction for the needs they don't until those
needs go away. While subjective, I submit to the list that the same
patterns are emerging in Daylight already, and it will take extraordinary
effort by motivated individuals in the months ahead to avoid this path.
Please provide evidence to support these very serious accusations. IMO
to begin with such an assumption/accusation is very damaging to the
trust relationships that are core to a well functioning open source
project. In fact these assertions/accusations create exactly the
environment you claim to want to prevent.


-------

Let's go to facts --

First, the D-E plan you linked to above does *not* specify a starting repo
in writing, but rather states explicitly on the page that the authors
disagree on this point, a point that has been re-emphasized in the public
threads. D-E plan, full steam ahead! Which D-E plan starting repo?

Second, on community support, by my count of emails on list, I came up with
10 organizations voicing support for a fresh repo / committer list and 3
against. Have we asked for on-list support from others who share our
concerns privately? Yes! But even if we filter by TSC organizations
(community+$$$), we came up with 3 in favor, 3 against, 3 no explicit vote.

--------

How to move forward? --

We are in strong favor of the fresh repo and blank committer list with Dave
and Colin as the first two committers. Let them invite other committers to
the "merged controller repo" along with their code as it flows to their
design. This is the suggestion I believe that both Dave and Colin have
supported as their own compromise as the authors of the D-E plan.

It has the nice property of parallelizing work -- as we've drilled down,
there is a lot to do on SAL to make it ready for production-grade Floodlight
components, and a lot to do on making production-grade Floodlight components
SAL-ready. We're signed up for a lot there.

It has the nice property of aligning incentives -- committers are naturally
balanced across those who get implementations, not ppt, in shape for
Colin/Dave acceptance as quickly possible. We see this as healthy.

It has the nice property of reducing the "tyranny of the committer majority"
risk -- no community process or design is perfect, but we're optimistic this
approach will yield a positive outcome.
Again, please provide evidence of any "tyranny". These are serious
accusations that require supporting evidence. The assertion that
"issue is very real in other well known SDN open source projects" is
simply not sufficient.

We're in support of the D-E 'fresh repo' suggestion for kick-starting the
D-E plan, we're quite motivated to make the controller project a balanced
committer repo and we're quite motivated to see this move forward. If there
is community consensus on this approach, great! If not, we look to you
(Dave) to figure out a decision protocol at the next TSC call.
After thinking about this for a few hours I went back and re-read the
TSC charter for guidance. The following points are relevant to this
thread:

(i). Governance

Section 5 of the TSC charter
(http://www.opendaylight.org/project/tsc/charter) outlines the TSC's
responsibility. In particular, it is not scope for the TSC to dictate
the creation of any project. Specifically, "the TSC is responsible for
simultaneous release dates, release quality standards, technical best
practices (including the Development Process), monitoring technical
progress, mediating technical conflicts between Committers and project
leads, and organizing inter-project collaboration. The TSC will define
ODP’s release vehicles." In summary, it is out of scope for the TSC to
dictate the creation of any ODP project.

(ii). Committers

Section 7 of the TSC charter covers committers. Germain here is that
"Initial projects that form ODP’s base may designate Committers.". In
addition, "Committers select and vote for new Committers, subject to
TSC approval.".

What is clear from this section is that the TSC does not have the
authority under our governance model to appoint committers to any
project. Note that any appointment of committers by the TSC also
violates the "meritocracy principle" that is core to any open source
project.

Summary: As I said in section (ii). below (New Project/Repository) and
reassert here, "this is largely a political issue and as such is
outside of the scope of the TSC". And while I initially thought a vote
on this topic might resolve the problem upon further reflection and
study I see that, as I originally stated, the creation of a New
Project is out of scope for the TSC. Further, the TSC has no
jurisdiction to appoint committers and in any event such an action
would violate core open source principles.

Finally, the ODP community is of course free to start any new project
which will be subject to the ODP lifecycle. However, the creation of a
new project and/or the appointment of committers is out of scope for
the TSC (and in any event would violate core open source values).

--dmm




-Kyle



On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 7:37 AM, David Meyer <dmm@...> wrote:

BTW, it has been pointed out that I mis-attributed the IOCTL idea to
Chris. That was my mistake. That said, the point I was making still
holds, namely, that there exist some ideas (and there will be more) to
deal with the near term deficiencies, perceived or otherwise, with the
SAL.

--dmm


On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 9:09 AM, David Meyer <dmm@...> wrote:
All,

As you know today (05.14.2013) was the day on which I wanted to
have the single controller code base issue resolved. What I had
said is that if we couldn't get the projects to agree on a way
forward that we as a TSC would vote on the issue. In the mean
time we have reached general consensus that the Dixon-Erickson
OpenDaylight Merged Controller Proposal (DE) (see

https://wiki.opendaylight.org/view/Dixon-Erickson_OpenDaylight_Merged_Controller_Proposal).
I want to be very clear here that that plan is distinct from what
is being called Proposed Dixon-Erickson Execution Plan (see

https://wiki.opendaylight.org/view/Proposed_Dixon-Erickson_Execution_Plan).
So
from this perspective the community has come together over this
general direction. This functionally obviates the need for a
direct vote.

There have been quite a few concerns raised both publicly and to
me directly in private email. I'd like to review those here and
provide my perspective.

(i). The SAL

It is generally agreed that there is work left to be done on the
SAL, and that there may be instances in which, (in the near term)
we need a mechanism to provide a kind of "SAL bypass". Chris'
IOCTL proposal is one such idea. What I want to point out here is
the the ODP is evolving and as such we expect the architecture to
not not improve technically but converge on the needed
functionality/generality over time. This is a completely natural
state of affairs for any software project. The summary is that we
can provide short term mechanisms that bridge any perceived or
real functionality gaps in the SAL (again, Chris' IOCTL idea
might be one such mechanism). So while the OSCP folks have
argued pretty strongly against the SAL (both publicly and
privately), the DE proposal endorses the SAL concept and the
OpenDaylight Controller folks consider the SAL to be a
fundamental architectural construct. That said, evolution of the
SAL (be it the model driven approach, bypass, etc) is an issue
for folks who are writing SAL applications (committing code) to
resolve.

(ii). New Project/Repository

This issue is really about the fairness of commits to the
controller code base. This was stated explicitly to me privately
and publicly by Glenn Ricart and Guru Parulkar on the discuss
list. On the other hand, a simple majority of TSC members (and
many in the community) have expressed the opinion that they would
prefer moving forward with the plan outlined in the DE-proposal,
namely start with the OpenDaylight controller and evolve that as
needed. I will note here that there is no objective evidence that
there is a fairness issue with commits to any candiate code base
(it would hard for that to be the case in any event as we haven't
had the chance to really get going). Finally, since this is
largely a political issue it is outside of the scope of the TSC
and should be "policed" by the community.

As an aside, I will also note here that several community
members have expressed concern that the new project
approach is quite expensive and has little benefit beyond
the political/perception issue mentioned above.


(iii) Timing

The timing issue, namely that there is (is not) a rush to get the
ODP project up and running is one that has also been raised both
publicly and privately. I have been told (again, both publicly
and privately) by the OSCP (BSN) folks that they have time
pressure to port their applications to the ODP controller. That
is a principle rationale behind the Layered API proposal

(https://wiki.opendaylight.org/view/Layered_API_Merged_Controller_Proposal).
In addition, the same team is also arguing that we are in no rush and
in fact any date for resolving the controller issue is not only
artificial but damaging to the community; this exact sentiment was
contained in a private communication from Rob Sherwood to me dated
Tue, May 14, 2013 at 1:38 AM. In the spirit of transparency I am copying
the
relevant text from that email here:

"I know that in your heart you believe what you're doing is the
right thing for the community, and that's why I've held off
making a stink, but as chair, I'm not sure what you're doing is
in terms of pushing hard on this artificial deadline (that you
said originally was not set in stone but now it is) or being
opaque in terms of the actual process is really helping the
community." -- Rob Sherwood to dmm on Tue, May 14, 2013 at 1:38
AM.

(this text of course also contains criticisms of me in my role
as chair to which I will return but I want to focus here on the
timing issue).

The summary here is that it has been argued by the OSCP team that
we accept their proposal
(https://wiki.opendaylight.org/view/File:LayeredAPIProposal.pdf)
because there is time pressure to port applications while at the
same time it is being argued that any time frame is damaging,
artificial, or worse. On the other hand, a simple majority of the
TSC have stated publicly (on the discuss list) that resolving the
controller code base issue of primary importance and they would
like to move forward with an interpretation of DE that starts
with the existing OpenDaylight controller code base.

It is clear from these inconsistencies that the timing issue is
largely a non-issue for the ODP community at large; in addition
there is clear benefit to moving forward with the DE approach now. One
might also note here that we've made very little progress over
the last many weeks and it is time to start, now.

(iv). Finally, if anyone has problems with me personally and/or the
way TSC is being run please air those publicly on the
discuss list. I will not be responding to emails such as the one
quoted above, lobbying by private phone call, or the
like. Again, if you have complaints about the way the TSC
is being run please discuss those on the discuss or tsc lists.

Summary: It is clear that there is additional evolution that is
needed for the SAL. No one is arguing otherwise. The new
project/repository issue is really about concern that commits
won't be fair (again, both Glenn and Guru raised this); however
there is no evidence that this is or will be the case and in any
event is not a technical issue and as such is out of scope for
the TSC. Finally, the timing issue is largely a commercial issue
(the need to port applications) and also has been argued on both
sides by the same people and as such I consider those arguments
largely moot; there is a real need to get the consortium going
(hence the date) but that is a wholly different argument.

--dmm
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