The next OpenStack Summit is just three months away now, and as is their custom, the organizers have once again invited you–the OpenStack Community–to vote on which presentations will and will not be featured at the event.

Don’t roll your eyes. Voting for the talks is a legitimate and worthwhile exercise.

How worthwhile and how legitimate?

Well, I’ve wondered that myself from time to time, so I recently cornered track chair Gary Kevorkian and asked him a few questions about what really goes down during this whole speaker selection process. Here’s what he said:

Me: Do the track chairs really pay attention to the voting?
Gary: To provide context, the track chairs work before and after community voting. Before voting, we spend a few days to ensure all the talks are in the proper tracks. After voting, each track chair first creates a list of the talks in their track they like and then works with their fellow track chairs to merge all the individual lists into one…and that becomes the final list that is submitted to the Foundation.

To answer the question, I think each track chair uses the voting results differently. Personally, I try not to look at the voting results until after I take a first pass at my list of recommended talks. Then, the results can either become a point of validation or make me go back and re-read an abstract to make sure I’m really understanding the talk. You also have to be mindful of the variety of talks within your track.

Me: How much influence does it have on the final choices? As a percentage. 50? 75? 90?
Gary: Again, it’s going to vary from person to person. For me personally, I’d say 50%.

Me: Can you tell when companies are engaging in ballot box stuffing?
Gary: Sometimes. But I think track chairs have become wise to the practice. Our goal is to make sure talks are selected based on a combination of their value to the audience as well as how the community responds to the talks in the voting.

Me: Have you ever rejected a talk that had a ton of votes?
Gary: Not yet. Once you get past the ballot box stuffing issue, the OpenStack community is really sharp in terms of recognizing great content. But as Jack Palance said in City Slickers, “day ain’t over.”

Me: Conversely, have you ever chosen a talk that very few people voted for?
Gary: I wouldn’t say “very few.” There was a talk at the Austin Summit (this is my 3rd time as a track chair) that didn’t do well in the voting but we all agreed that it was a valuable talk. It turned out to be very popular.

Me: Are you stone-cold sober when you vote, a little sober, or are there several cocktails before you all get down to business?
Gary: I’ve already had a few Moscow Mules just answering these questions.

Me: How long does it take?
Gary: The first phase, before voting, takes 3-4 hours. The second phase, after voting, is a bit more grueling. It can take up to 8-10 hours. The real challenge for me is making the hard decisions about talks that are “on the bubble” and may or may not make the final list.

Me: Are there fights?
Gary: Let’s just call them “heated discussions.”

Me: Is there crying?
Gary: Damn…who’s cutting onions?

Me: Do you enjoy selecting the talks?
Gary: Absolutely. I won’t lie…there’s a fair amount of effort that goes into the process. But seeing the final list of talks for our track being published as part of the final Summit schedule is a great feeling. I really enjoy giving back to the community that has given me so much.

So there you have it! Your votes may not be the sole factor in choosing Summit talks, but they are important. They have the power to draw attention to a great talk that may otherwise have been overlooked, they confirm community interest in talks that were already appealing to the track chairs, and they probably help sort out some of those “heated discussions” Gary alluded to earlier.

Ready to vote? Here’s the link to get you started: https://www.openstack.org/summit/boston-2017/vote-for-speakers. If there’s a specific talk you’d like to vote for (like any of the submissions from my Cisco colleagues, listed below), use the Search field in the upper left-hand side. Otherwise, I recommend starting with the red “All Categories” button right beneath that, and choosing the one that appeals to you before you start reading abstracts.

Good luck! Hope to see you at the Summit!

Architectural Decisions

Cisco UCS + Red Hat OSP (UCSO) – A Tale from the Trenches, Miguel Barajas

Designing Cloud Native Apps – Deep Dive, CB Anantha Padmanabhan, Meenakshi Sundaram Lakshmanan, Rahul Upadhye

Architecture and Operations – Networking

Cloud Use Case: Why Use a Hardware-Based Forwarding Plane?, Leon Zachery, Sridar Kandaswamy, Thomas Bachman, Martin Klein (SAP)

Everything You Need to Know About OpenStack Networking (But Were Afraid to Ask), Niki Acosta, Dan Hersey

Fast Data and Packet Processing: Virtual, But For Reals, Anne McCormick

Getting Started with OpenDaylight, Charles Eckel

Getting Started with OpenStack, Charles Eckel

Integrated Network Policies Across Containers, VMs, and Bare Metal Infrastructures, Sanjeev Rampal, Minashu Raj

Neutron and Quantum Theory: How to Write Code That Runs in Spite of Uncertainty, Ian Wells, Naveen Joy, Jerome Tollet

OpenStack with OpenDaylight Power Networking, Charles Eckel, Vikram Hosakote

Securing OpenStack Networking, Naveen Joy

Ubiquitous Network Connectivity VMs, Bare-Metal, and Containers with Neutron and Contiv, Rohit Agarwalla, John Joyce

Architecture and Operations – Ops Tools

Kolla-Kubernetes: Day 2 Operations Enable Sleep Optimization, Pete Birley (independent), Serguei Bezverkhi, Steve Wilkerson (AT&T)

Business and Strategy

Panel from the Trenches: Will Containers Save Us?, Christopher MacGown, Forrest Carpenter, Jonathan LaCour (DreamHost), Ben Cherian (InkTank Storage), Jesse Proudman (IBM Blue Box)

CIO Cloud Strategy

OpenStack’s Digital Transformation Opportunity, Niki Acosta (moderator), Kip Compton, Tim Yeaton (Red Hat), Al Sadowski (451 Research)

Community Building – Business and Strategy

Finding the Balance between Open Source and Proprietary Work, Dave McCowan, Douglas Mendizábal (Rackspace), Christopher Solis (IBM), Fernando Diaz

The Evolution of the User Group: Facilitating OpenStack Adoption, Gary Kevorkian, Lisa-Marie Namphy (OpenStack Bay Area Meetup), Beth Cohen (Verizon), John Studarus (OpenStack San Diego Meetup)

Community Building – Developers

Next Generation OpenStack Developers: Collaboration Review, Leon Zachery, Dipa Thakkar

OpenStack Mentoring: The Ninja Becomes the Sensei, Emily Hugenbruch (IBM), Anne McCormick, Amrith Kumar (Tesora), Trevor McCasland (AT&T), Chirag Shahani (Nuage Networks)

Tales from the Trenches: How We Screwed Up OpenStack, But Containers Will Save Us All, Christopher MacGown


Running Conatinerized Applications on OpenStack with Rancher, Jason Grimm

Developers – Big Data

Using OpenStack Orchestration for Big Data Workloads, Hart Hoover

Evaluating OpenStack

Enterprise Cloud Offering Models and Service Strategies, Robert Douglas, Istvan Blasko

Hands-on Workshop

Barbican Workshop – Securing the Cloud, Dave McCowan, Douglas Mendizábal (Rackspace), Ade Lee (Red Hat), Kaitlin Far (JH-APL), Fernando Diaz

How-to and Best Practices

Enabling Cloud Applications and Traditional Workloads on an OpenStack Cloud, Jeff Hemric, Chris Taylor, Robert Douglas

Enterprise Grade OpenStack Clouds: Been There, Done that!, Jeff Hemric, Chris Taylor, Desh Shukla

OpenStack Cloud Enterprise Essentials: Security, Monitoring, and Metrics, Jeff Hemric, Chris Taylor


Demystifying the Neutron ML2 Plugin for Cisco UCS Manager, Sandhya Dasu

FWaaS v2 – A New Beginning, Sridar Kandaswamy, Yushiro Furukawa (Fujitsu Ltd.), Chandan Dutta Chowdhury (Juniper Networks)

Integrating Network Devices Into Your DevOps Workflow, Jason Grimm, Steven Carter (Red Hat)


Comparing the Barbican and Vault Security Models, Dave McCowan, Douglas Mendizábal (Rackspace)

Securing Your OpenStack Private Cloud – Overview, Best Practices, and Recommendations, Jason Grimm, Chris Riviere, Steven Carter (Red Hat)

The Ins and Outs of Pen Testing OpenStack Clouds, Sebastian Jeuk, Deepika Gupta

Telecom and NFV Operations

Turbocharging VNF Performance with Vector Packet Processing, Kevin Bringard, Dan Hersey

Telecom and NFV Strategy

Cloud Native NFV Networking, Ian Wells, Bin Hu, (AT&T), Bryan Sullivan

Upstream Development

Real-Time Resource Forwarding with Searchlight and Zaqar, Calvin Rutley, Laurent Baeriswyl, Lei Zhanf (Intel), Fei Long Wang (Zaqar PTL)


Ali Amagasu

Marketing Communications Manager