[OpenAFS] Funding the formation of an OpenAFS Foundation

Jeffrey Altman jaltman@your-file-system.com
Fri, 28 Sep 2012 13:09:37 -0400

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On 9/27/2012 10:53 PM, Troy Benjegerdes wrote:
> Jeffrey,
> I do appreciate all the effort you and the Elders have put into OpenAFS=

> over the past 10 years at least. That effort, and the release as open
> source is why I switched to AFS to store my tax records, email, source
> code, and made an attempt to store pretty much everything I've done=20
> electronically that I wish to have for long-term archival.

You have a very odd way of showing your appreciation but I am glad that
OpenAFS has served you well.   That is what we strive for.

>> While I appreciate your frustration and motivation, I do not appreciat=
>> your attitude.  Nor do I understand what it is that you believe that y=
>> could do that others have not done in the past or are not continuing t=
>> do to this day?
> What I'm attempting to do, with unknown levels of success, is call out =

> what I see to be some rather self-defeating habits this community has=20
> gotten into.
> One of those particularly bad habits seems to be having Your-File-Syste=
> having a financial interest in the direction of OpenAFS, AND also actin=
> as the legal and financial backstop.=20

Your factual misstatements require correction.

Your File System  Inc (YFSI) has no more financial interest in the
direction of OpenAFS than does Sine Nomine Associates or any other
vendor that sells contract development services, support services, or
builds products based upon the OpenAFS sources.  If there is a
difference between YFSI and others it is in the quantity of code that is
contributed and reviewed by those that work for YFSI.

YFSI is neither a legal nor a financial backstop for OpenAFS nor the
OpenAFS Elders.  You may be confused by the fact that Secure Endpoints
Inc. (SEI) dba "AFS and Kerberos Workshops" is a legal and financial
backstop for the Best Practices Workshop (BPW) but the BPWs are not run
by the OpenAFS Elders.  The BPW organizers are an independent group of
individuals that are listed on the workshop website:


The BPW requires a legal entity to sign contracts with the host
organizations, hotels, bus companies, etc., requires an entity that can
provide General Liability coverage, and an entity that can provide a
bank account and Tax ID information so that credit card payments can be
accepted.  For a range of required services deposits must be paid in
advance long before the registration payments are received.  Some years
there is even a loss but because of advanced planning the BPW maintains
cash reserves so that it doesn't have to come out of the pockets of the
organizers.  The DBA is approved by both the organizers and the OpenAFS
Elders.  Either group can request that SEI deregister the DBA and turn
over all deposits to the OpenAFS Elders.

BPWs and the European Conferences could not take place without sponsors
and YFSI and SEI have frequently sponsored these events in order to
ensure that they could take place.  YFSI is a sponsor of the 2012
European AFS and Kerberos Conference taking place in Edinburgh 16
October to 18 October.  The BPW and the European Conferences are an
excellent place for the community to come together to discuss the
challenges of the day.

> It leaves you frustrated because
> you've dumping money into it, and regardless of your actuall motives,=20
> it creates the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest.

No one is hiding my conflicts of interest which are very real.  I wear
them on my sleeve.  The reason I stepped down as a Elder is because I
reached the point where I could no longer consistently favor the short
term needs of OpenAFS over YFSI when making decisions.

> I think you, and the rest of us would all be happier if you walked away=

> from legal and financial backing, and either let the community take=20
> care of it, or let it die.

Perhaps you are correct and it is time for YFSI to move on.  Developing
a file system that can be deployed in mixed environments with IBM AFS
and OpenAFS is very expensive and technically challenging.
[sarcasm] I'm sure the community will happier without the more than 66%
of code contributions that originate with YFSI on a year to year basis
nor the code reviews nor the Windows client updates. [/sarcasm]

Walking away is not going to remove conflicts of interest from the
community nor is it going to solve the underlying funding problems.
That said, if there are individuals or organizations that agree with
Troy's viewpoint that I and the YFSI team should move on to something
else, please voice those opinions publicly or privately; either here or
in person in Edinburgh.  We are not without ideas for a broad range of
products outside the file system space.  I would be happy to sell the
intellectual property if the community can raise the funds to buy it.

>> In addition, the OpenAFS Elders and Gatekeepers have respect for the
>> wishes of IBM when it comes to OpenAFS because without IBM OpenAFS wou=
>> not be available for continued use.  When IBM's representatives say to=

>> us that they want to ensure that future releases are backward compatib=
>> with IBM AFS 3.x, we take that very seriously.  The Elders and
>> Gatekeepers respect that IBM owns the trademarks and that IBM gets to
>> determine the meaning of "AFS compatible" even if they haven't put it =
>> writing.  As a Gatekeeper and former Elder I ask that you respect the
>> judgement of the Elders.
>> Jeffrey Altman
> Thank you.
> I'd like to be able to respect IBM's wishes, but all I really have to g=
> from is what I find in the LICENSE file. I think the Elders have done a=
> fine job so far, but IBM is under no obligation to the Elders or any of=

> us on whether or not they change their wishes on the use of the tradema=
> It seems like the only way for me to respect IBM's wishes is to use the=
> code under the IPL, and change the name.=20

You can do that and you have done that with your TFS fork.  That is fine.=

> I respect the judgement and leadership of the elders, but I also have n=
> obligation (or interest) in following the leadership of an unincorporat=
> loose association which,=20

There is no requirement that you follow the leadership of OpenAFS when
developing TFS.   However, if you want to be a part of this community,
have your code accepted by this community, and use its resources you
must be respectful to those you interact with.

> as near as I can tell, has not produced any code
> to solve the problem I need solved (IPv6 and working rxgk).

You are a hypocrite.  On the one hand you are complaining that I and
YFSI are a crutch for the community because we fund development and
write code that no one else is willing to fund.  While the other hand is
complaining that I and the rest of the leadership have done nothing to
produce the code that you want.

Which is it?  Do you want the code or do you want the community to be
forced to step up and pay for the cost of development?  You can't have
it both ways.

It would not be financially viable for YFSI to give $2M worth of code to
OpenAFS when the community is not prepared to pay for the expense of
development.  If you think YFSI is a crutch for the community given the
work we have already contributed, how would things be improved if the
most critical need that most organizations have is delivered without
requiring that organizations change their behavior with regards to fundin=

I believe the best way that YFSI can help the community break the
funding logjam is to produce a high quality product that incorporates
the functionality that the community needs and sell it to recoup the
cost of development and generate enough revenue to build the next
critically needed feature whether that be end-to-end encryption,
integrated search or IPv6 support.  Only then will it be possible to
give code away and ensure a sustainable revenue stream to support
on-going development.

The underlying problem is a funding collapse that was the direct result
of a strategically important infrastructure product transitioning from a
commercial license to an open source license.  The unspoken assumption
in 2000 was that the academic community would carry the development
burden for the rest.  Three universities (cmu, mit, umich) funded
gatekeepers and three academic institutions, one government lab, and IBM
made nearly 90% of the contributions in the first 30 months.  But the
winds quickly changed direction and by 2006 there was one academic
gatekeeper and today there are none.  Worse is that today there is only
one contributor in the top eight that is not employed by a commercial
support provider.

Most senior managers are completely unaware of how AFS is deployed at
their institutions.  Some sites could easily coast for another five
years without any major changes.  However, a significant percentage of
other institutions have AFS deployments that are used as one of the
primary building blocks for dozens of public and private services that
are strategic to the institution.  Yet management is unaware of how
important AFS is because unlike the other strategic services, AFS has
not had to undergo a strategic budgeting process in over a decade.  The
lack of knowledge produces a flawed risk analysis or no analysis at all.
 As a result, there is no funding to mitigate the risk.

If organizations redirected the money that was previously being paid to
IBM to OpenAFS when they shifted their dependency, things would have
gone very differently.  But that is not what happened.

The recent decommissioning decisions are a realization by management
that the existing funding model for OpenAFS is unsustainable and the
organizations are at significant risk.  The CIOs, CFOs, and others are
correct and the decision to find an alternative is a wise one.
Infrastructure transitions are expensive and disruptive.  It takes such
a long time to plan for a transition, fund a transition, and implement a
transition that the planning must begin whenever there is significant
doubt about the viability of the existing platform.   This is a truism
regardless of whether the product is open source or closed source.

Some in this community believe that forming a Foundation is what is
needed to jump start funding and development.  I disagree.  If the
funding was available, a Foundation would have been formed years ago.  A
Foundation that cannot backup its promises with a timely deliverable is
no better or worse than what we had in 2007.

> I like OpenAFS because it's an open-source project, and gives me the fr=
> to ask for vendors to support what I need (which I've done, and asked f=
> budgetary quotes and implementation timelines), or, if that doesnt suit=
> needs, for me to go do it myself. Someone else might very well get it d=
> before I do, but I have that option, and part of the strength of this=20
> community is that we're examining some rather painful questions.
> I was going to say if you don't like my attitude, then killfile my emai=
> address,

Many people have privately suggested that I ignore you but then I am
permitting you to determine the message that people take away which in
my opinion would be harmful to the community.

> but then I usually get damn good responses from you if it's some
> sort of obscure technical detail.

I am unlikely at this point to offer to assist you on a technical issue.
 You have burned bridges with an important subset of this community and
that is unfortunate.

Jeffrey Altman

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