We held our first OpenStack User Group Meetup in Poland yesterday with up to 50 people joining us at peak times, both physically as well as online via Google Hangout and IRC Chat. It was a pleasure and honour for us to talk with some of the best known and most sophisticated OpenStackers in the world, and we are very thankful for their attendance. If you didn’t have a chance to join us live, please find below our recorded Google Hangout sessions.
Tim Bell, CERN
Boris Renski, Mirantis
Eric Windisch, Cloudscaling
Atul Jha, OpenStack India
Let me share with you what key learnings we drew from our first meetup:
OpenStack: don’t believe the hype. Expect most IT people to know little to zero about OpenStack. It might be the largest open source cloud software project globally with hundreds of companies backing the initiative with hundreds of coders and thousands of members, yet there are still zillions of system admins and developers out there who have no clue what OpenStack is about. Educate them all, one geek at a time.
Tune into the global OpenStack community. When you’re small, you have to think big. We have less than a handful of OpenStack deployments in Poland, hence there are very few experienced OpenStackers able to share their knowledge. As a small community, we have to think out of your (local) box and attract the brightest OpenStackers in the world to educate our community and we also need to find ways to give back to the broader OpenStack community. OpenStack is an open source community driven effort, it’s all about a mutual, respectful relationship with other OpenStackers, it’s about giving and taking, so let’s do it right.
Google Hangout & IRC Chat rock. It’s exciting to talk with OpenStackers from the United States, Switzerland, Kenya and India at the same time. We obviously lack resources to fly in speakers from all over the world. But thanks to Google Hangout & IRC Chat we were able to attract the smartest OpenStackers from virtually any place on this planet. At the same time, we contribute back with our online sessions to the OpenStack community far beyond our country borders: We welcomed attendees from 9 different countries in Europe, Africa and even Asia Pacific - most of which face similar challenges to ours. But when small, local OpenStack communities join forces, there is an opportunity to create a huge multinational community spreading across multiple regions. It’s the power of many in action.
Pick your audience wisely: Only the brave. It’s only possible to start a revolution with brave people, and OpenStack is a revolution. We learned that you need to attract the brave ones in the first place: People who don’t shy away from asking questions in front of an audience, even in spite of a severe language barrier. People, who are willing to make a difference, who show up at the meetup with burning questions and who want to apply their newly acquired skills the next day at work. We need to listen carefully to them and tailor our meetups around their needs. The vast majority of the IT crowd will follow later, but you can only start a movement with a small bunch of wildly determined, super-pragmatic, brave people.
Address real life problems. Some of our attendees are contemplating to build private clouds or to deploy their applications on alternative public cloud platforms, but they don’t necessarily have OpenStack on top of their mind. We realized that we primarily have to address their questions such as: tactical choice of hypervisors or capacity planning for cloud storage, automated deployment and management, application development and deployment. Our learning: Relate to people’s everyday experience reality, and then expand the conversation to OpenStack - rather than the other way round.
Keep it short and focused. We challenged our attendees with four speaker sessions in a row from 5.00 pm to 9.00 pm. Our key learning: We need to keep our meetups shorter and focus on one specific topic at a time. Also, people are keen on diving deeply into technical conversations on topics they are interested in (we feel that an OpenStack User Group meetup is not necessarily the right place for level presentations on OpenStack).
Do it again, again and again. We will host our meetups and the accompanying Google Hangout & IRC Chat sessions on a monthly basis. Feel free to register for our upcoming meetup on July 11th 2013, 6.00 pm - 8.30 pm CEST (GMT + 2hrs), and watch out for further meetups in August, September, October, November … see you there!
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