A Newcomers Perspective on ApacheCon Europe – 2014

It’s one am and my last night in Budapest.  Its been six days since arrival yet for some reason I’m still jet-lagged and jolt awake in the middle of the night – once again.  An over-stimulated brain can’t manage to fall back asleep due to the inertia gathered during ApacheCon.  This affords time to reflect and write.

I’m the new kid on the block having just been voted as a committer into the Apache Directory project.  A colleague, Emmanuel Lecharny, invited me to co-present about Fortress, which is the reason for being here.

I’m happy because its been a good week for an open source addict.  New alliances have been formed along with new technologies learned – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

A few months ago the decision was made to move Fortress into the Apache Directory Project.  This move was not taken lightly.  OpenLDAP has been a good home and there were reasons to stay put.  First, it’s a product that offered an excellent example in which to follow.  Second, its project team gave sound mentorship.  Finally, moves such as these are disruptive for the community and can burn bridges.

But it was time to move on.  I needed help: Fortress requires the development processes and resources of ASF in order to gain traction.

I worried that my status as newcomer would place barriers to a successful outcome.  Being no stranger to tech circles gives awareness that many (most?) communities are insular (not built here syndrome) and require long periods before trust and support are established.  Opinions of newcomers are not trusted and attitudes must be kept in check lest they offend the others – especially the leaders.  I have no time for this kind of nonsense.

During my travel to Budapest these thoughts caused a bit of anxiety.  Would I, and more important – my product, fit in with the Apache way of doing things?  Would joining the Apache Directory Project help or hurt objectives?  I thought I knew the answer to these questions but wasn’t certain.

From the outset, during the opening keynotes, Rich Bowen set the tone. His laid-back style and no-nonsense approach of engaging the audience repeatedly struck the chord of fellowship and collaboration.  We’re part of something that is bigger.  Exclusiveness runs counter to that philosophy and risks spoiling the overall objectives of building strong communities and quality software.

Those first moments provided the realization that the right move had been made.  This place (Corinthia Hotel) would prove to be fertile ground for innovation and collaboration.  Creativity was everywhere – in the sessions (of course), the corridors and atriums, at the dining tables, and spilling out into the streets – even once whilst soaking at the thermal pools.  Innovation and collaboration could not be stopped.  This is the point of such a conference, but the magnitude astounded me.

The details are not important.  I felt welcomed, respected and treated as equal by the others.

I am not so naïve as to believe the ASF is immune to the political intrigue weighing down other large technological organizations.  As humans we can’t help but harbour hidden personal agendas and vendettas.  But there’s something different going on here. Not sure I can place a finger on it just yet, call it an intuition.

As I listened to the closing keynotes on Wednesday evening, and despite a natural inclination to be cynical of such sentiments, I could not help but feel a surge of pride at being part of this Apache movement.  I have found a new home – and good things will happen here.

*yawn* now I can return to sleep… 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s