Joining Rackspace

by Jesse Noller


The Switch

So, as you read in my goodbye post; I'm switching over to a new role at Rackspace starting today, April 15th. The short version is that I am coming on board to help improve and evolve the way Rackspace cooperates with the open source community internally and externally. Of course, I'm crazy excited about this - as I said before:

...if could meld the open source/community work with my "day job" I could do a lot more. I could be more - I could tap into skills I've grown and developed in all of my "lives" and do even more.

If I could bring together the worlds I operate in I could potentially do even more within the Python community, the Open Source world, at my "day job", etc. But things like that don't exist, roles like that are fleeting and rare.

Ah. But roles like this do exist, come to find out, and I managed to be offered one at Rackspace, already working on leading the way with open source and the open cloud in a myriad of ways. They don't just want to be a "big company" - they want to be a great company.

Values

What’s compelling is that Rackspace wants to be/is recognized as one of the world's greatest service companies. This means a fundamental shift away from a “product” driven cycle of development and internal structure - if you’re a service company, you need to hold values like Rackspace's dear:

  • Fanatical Support in all we do.
  • Results first, substance over flash.
  • Committed to Greatness
  • Full Disclosure and Transparency
  • Passion for our Work
  • Treat fellow Rackers like Friends and Family

Interestingly - these values, especially fanatical support directly align with my personal beliefs, and more importantly how you compete with entrenched players in the "cloud" space (see "How do you compete with Google")

But going back to product - we all know services are fundamentally products, but there’s several methods of development. What Rackspace wants to become is “Open First” - this means they see the value in the services they provide, and the fanatical support, but they want develop the software they use for those services and products (especially the Rackspace Cloud) in the Open - this means Open Source all the way down.

Open first means that rather than develop internally and then push externally, development of tools, services, etc will eventually happen in a truly OSS fashion: as open source projects first, and then deployed and utilized internally to Rackspace (as they now do with Openstack/Rackspace Cloud). This means internal changes in development processes, legal processes and much more, much of which is already under way.

This of course means I will be working on internal developer advocacy and changes so that this vision becomes reality: software will be developed in the open, open source will be rewarded, community involvement will be critical for individual developers, support, marketing, etc.

Rackspace doesn’t just want to ship code though: they want to get deeply involved in the developer community as a whole (not just Python). They want to be building products and services that developers want to use and open source projects that developers want to use and contribute to.

Rackspace wants to make itself an awesome place for developers - they want it to be a place where developers can come and write code that doesn’t just benefit Rackspace, but the whole developer community and open source world as a whole. They want to raise the profile of those internal developers who get involved, they want to openly communicate with developers internally and externally.

But that’s just some of the internal pieces.

Externally

Externally, Rackspace wants to get more developers involved with its cloud platform and OSS projects. Rackspace wants to support the community as a whole, via outreach, education, code, getting involved in hack spaces, workshops and more.

Rackspace has always been known for fanatical support. What that means for Rackspace as “the Open Cloud company” is that they offer fanatical support for developers. Essentially Rackspace being a great place for developers to work and contribute in every dimension.

Strive to make Rackspace the place where every developer wants to work; make Rackspace services the ones that every developer wants to use. Work to make Rackspace’s Open Source projects the best of breed solutions in their areas (such as OpenStack).

This is important as it represents a shift for Rackspace, but the dedication to this vision comes from all levels within the company. Thats why I’m coming on board - to help drive this vision, bringing together my community work within the Python community, wider developer community and my own development skills.

Some of the things that are on my mind/list:

  • Lower the barrier to entry and friction for internal developers contributing externally.
  • Lower the barrier to entry and friction for external developers to contribute to Rackspace OSS projects (For example, OpenStack and others)
  • Lower the barrier to entry and friction for developers to leverage Rackspace’s cloud services. This means making those services not just easy to use, but robust, compelling and enabling for developers.
  • Supporting outreach groups, workshops, hacker spaces, meetups, conferences, etc - not just within the Python community, but other languages and communities.
    • Rackspace is already supporting conferences, startups and much more - I want to work with them to extend this everywhere within the development community.
  • Internal support for developer/development R&D and more.

Excited Much?

Yeah, I'm pretty excited - nervous, yes - but excited. This represents a huge leap of faith for me. Moving my family across the country, taking on a much larger calling, combining two worlds (product development, community work) and a lot more.

I'm sitting here, outside in San Antonio on a bench waiting for the shuttle to the "Castle" filled with thoughts of the future and what it could hold. I'm shaking, I'm nervous, but it's going to be amazing.