About Brian Proffitt

Brian is a Senior Principal Community Architect for Open Source and Standards team at Red Hat, responsible for community content, onboarding, and open source consulting. Brian also serves on the governing board for Project CHAOSS, a metrics-oriented approach to ascertaining community health. A former technology journalist, Brian is also a graduate lecturer at the University of Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @TheTechScribe.

The Illusion of Control

One of my favorite sayings is “If you want to make God laugh, tell Them your plans.”

It’s not my favorite by making me feel good, since it’s usually something I’m reminded of after one of my own plans has gone kablooey and I’m sitting in a pile of smoking ruins wondering what the heck just happened. Then I remember: God just had a chuckle.

Your own belief system may differ from mine, but there is a lot of evidence in any worldview that Life, The Universe, and Everything is highly resistant to many (if not all) forms of control.

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Balancing Open and Productivity

The adage “knowledge is power” is usually a very good one. After all, the more you know about what’s going on, the more you can usually make a better decision about the things you need to get done.

In an open, collaborative environment, methods such as more transparent processes can lead to more efficient knowledge sharing. which in turn can lead to more effective decisions and outcomes.

But such systems also have people involved, and when that happens, sometimes the most ideal open framework can be thwarted from its intended goals.

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Winter in Brussels Brings FOSDEM and Red Hat

This time of year, Brussels, Belgium is always a big community focal point for free and open source software, when FOSDEM brings passionate and talented members of the community to town.

Many organizations take advantage of the gathering and stage events of their own. Red Hat’s community members are pleased to host and participate in all of these events, especially FOSDEM.

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KubeCon and the Power of Collaboration

Attending KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2018 was an eye-opening experience for someone like me. On paper, it was  a very product-oriented conference, with the focus of my fellow Red Hatters on product and feature offerings in OpenShift and a whole host of Kubernetes and container-oriented software. Attendees here are very much developers and operators who are here to learn about how this technology works and how they can best use this tech in their organizations.

So what was a community person like me doing in a place like this?

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Opening Code, Opening Opportunities

There’s big news coming out of KubeCon Seattle today: our team is donating a keystone project to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), ensuring that project’s longevity and success. The open source etcd project has been donated and accepted into the CNCF, a neutral foundation housed under The Linux Foundation to drive the adoption of cloud native systems.

Open sourcing code is always at the forefront of Red Hat’s goals, whether we start new projects like etcd, which has been open since it launched in 2013, or opening projects whenever we acquire software that is closed and proprietary. We have done it so many times it is second nature. We open sourced oVirt after we acquired Qumranet, Aerogear after picking up FeedHenry, and Ansible Tower after adding Ansible to our ranks. We are firmly committed to the open source model of collaboration and innovation, so when we do have closed code in our portfolio, it’s not a question of “if” we will open source the software, but generally “when.”

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Regular Checkups Are Vital To Community Health

People, in general, have a hard time moving outside their comfort zone. Or even thinking about it. We can plan ahead for events that cause us discomfort, but when things are going well–especially when they are going well–we can fall into the trap of complacency.

For example, right now I am dealing with a head cold. It’s no big deal, I am still plodding along at work, getting things done. But I did not plan for this, and my productivity levels are correspondingly low this week.

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For Communities, IBM + Red Hat Means Stronger Commitment

The news that IBM has signed an agreement to acquire Red Hat made an impact throughout the business world Sunday, leaving many to speculate what the future will bring for Red Hat. Specifically, some are wondering what this acquisition will mean for the many upstream projects in which Red Hat participates and sponsors.

Our CEO Jim Whitehurst imparted a strong sense of direction for Red Hat as it starts on this new journey, with a comment that directly relates to upstream communities: “Our unwavering commitment to open source innovation remains unchanged. The independence IBM has committed to will allow Red Hat to continue building the broad ecosystem that enables customer choice and has been integral to open source’s success in the enterprise. IBM is acquiring Red Hat for our amazing people and our incredibly special culture and approach to making better software.”

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Pass the Torch Without Dropping the Ball

A replacement plan/document is a great community resource, even when you’re not being replaced.

A year ago, as the role of RDO community manager at Red Hat was moving from one person to another, that team started thinking about what needs to be in place to effectively transition a role. More generally, the managers started thinking about planning, and documenting, for anyone’s eventual replacement.
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A New Metrics Well

A major component of the work being done within the Open Source and Standards team focuses on what we can do to make communities healthy and prosperous.

To that end, we are working with metrics to obtain quantifiable numbers about the projects with which we work, to identify areas of a project that are doing well or might need assistance. We are happy to working with Project CHAOSS for this, since this project has made great strides in determining what actually makes a community healthy.

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