Introducing the Puppet Labs Community Manager

Hello, I’m Michael Stahnke and I’m the new community manager at Puppet Labs. I’ll provide a little bit of background about myself, but then I want to jump into the important stuff around the Puppet community.

I joined Puppet Labs in April of 2011 as the first Release Manager. I was a member of the community and using Puppet since late 2006. I learned about Puppet from being a member of the Fedora Project’s Infrastructure group. I also was one of the people helping get EPEL launched (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) very early on. I still contribute regularly to Fedora/EPEL, and of course to Puppet, Facter, Dashboard, Hiera and Mcollective. I also love Infrastructure Operations.

There’s obviously a ton I could write about in regards to community. The community around Puppet is awesome. It’s certainly a key reason I wanted to use Puppet, learn about it, learn Ruby, and join Puppet Labs. Today I’d like to focus on what my goals for the community are, and address some areas where we’ve fallen short in the past.

My main goal for the Puppet Community shouldn’t be any different than the goals of the Puppet project:

I want infrastructure problems to go away.

I want quality system administrators to have more time to explore their domain, and make their infrastructure services an investment rather than a cost center. I want infrastructure engineers to spend time on differentiating activities rather than having every shop reinvent time synchronization, DNS management, and authentication setups.

One of the real reasons I liked Puppet when I got started with it was the community. There were smart people here. I don’t just mean people good at Puppet, but people who solved difficult systems management problems. The people in the community discussed solutions for provisioning, patching, packaging, deployment, compliance, auditing, disaster recovery and everything else that was consuming my day as an infrastructure admin. So the Puppet community centered (and centers) around people who were (and are) awesome at infrastructure. I’m very interested in continuing to foster those types of discussions.

Beyond that, I have some more concrete goals around community and Puppet.

I’d like to enable the community to host Puppet User Groups or meet-ups. This means developing a formula for what works, a budget process, and hopefully the output is something like a “user-group-in-a-box” kit.

I want to define and recognize contributors. We spend a lot of time focused on contributors providing us with code. We love you, please keep doing it. We also want contributors to be recognized for things like documentation, filing excellent bug reports, leading/attending user groups, uploading modules to the forge, integrating Puppet with other tools, etc.

In the current event bucket, we have the process around Google Summer of Code 2012. We participated in GSOC in 2010, and liked it a lot. This year we’d like to participate again. This means we need awesome ideas for projects. We’ve started an idea page at http://projects.puppetlabs.com/projects/puppet/wiki/GSOC12, please contribute if you have any ideas for GSOC 2012.

In sitting down to identify gaps in the community, or friction points, a few items bubbled up quickly. So, we’re going to address them as soon as we can.

  1. It is difficult to find material about the Open Source projects on our main website.
  2. We don’t do a super job recognizing members of the community.
  3. We don’t capture a lot of information about what you, the community, are doing. This type of input can make our product and documentation much better.

In the near future, look for some new content on our website, around community and the open source ecosystem.

I have several ideas on what we’ll do to fix these gaps. Some of this will require some patience and experimentation to get right as well. If you have comments and suggestions around the Puppet community, I’m available via Twitter (@stahnma), Freenode (stahnma), and email (stahnma@puppetlabs.com).

Look for a lot more to come in the future around community goals and involvement.

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