OpenBadges, badg.us & Community IT

I’m very excited to announce that the Badg.us website has fully transitioned over to Community IT Ops infrastructure!

Badg.us is a site where anyone can create a series of Open Badges to recognize skills, achievements and interests. This platform is available for free and intended to provide an easy option for issuing interoperable badges that align with the Open Badges metadata standard.

This took a lot of effort from the team but I specifically want to acknowledge Edmund Wong.

We are leveraging our HP Cloud OpenStack infrastructure as best as we can, including HP’s DBaaS and LBaaS. This allowed us to focus on the website & app and let the “cloud” handle the rest of the infrastructure. Edmund documented our setup, should you want to spin up your own version of Badg.us.

One of the core tenants of Community IT Ops is education. In fact, the Mission Statement even says so:

How we do it
Teaching and education are core to our mission and values. We mentor and teach today’s skills and help put those skills to practical use by hosting and running production sites and services. We use OpenBadges to acknowledge skills and accomplishments.

I’m extremely excited – and happy – that this is the first service that Community IT Ops stood up.

A big thanks to everyone involved.

ps. Maybe you want to get involved?

on starting @ lookout

Lookout

Those who don’t follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn probably don’t know this.

I have a new job.

That’s right. I’m joining the team at Lookout on Monday, September 9.

I can’t be more excited!

Getting ready

For the past two weeks I’ve been reading books and putting thought into my “First 100 Days” (and learned to blame FDR for this 100 day notion).

I’ve met with with my mentors (you all have mentors, right?), with my friends, and importantly, with my new co-workers. I’ve had breakfast with some, lunch with others and a baseball game with yet others. (My wife’s helped too!)

(I’ve also spent a little time learning chef & OpenStack.)

What I have right now is a very rough agenda. Not really a 100-day plan but an outline knowing that the first month or so will be immersed learning. Learning a new culture and a new dialect with its own set of acronyms and cadence.

But.

I. can. not. wait. to. start.

Why Lookout?

In “You’re in Charge–Now What?: The 8 Point Plan“, Neff & Citron suggest that as people begin to size me up and figure out who I am, I should find a way to share the reasons I took this job. So,

I started talking to Lookout nearly 5 weeks ago over a cup of coffee and throughout the interview process, I was struck by this common sense of passion. Struck by a sense of passion and excitement that started from that very first cup of coffee.

Struck that every interview felt like a conversation and not merely an interview.

Lookout, Fort KnoxStruck with the complexity of the technology and the essential question – how do you secure mobile devices? –  while knowing that the next billion users won’t be desktop users but mobile, knowing that users have content on mobile devices that define their life, content that would be better stored in Fort Knox than in someone else’s hands.

And somewhere in the middle I distinctly recall knowing that these are people I want to work with.

What am I going to be doing?

At my core, I’m an Operations guy. Always have been. I love building systems that scale. Systems that break but don’t wake me up because they broke.

I also love building and helping lead excellent teams. I love seeing people do amazing things.

I pour my heart and mind into figuring out how to scale infrastructure (and teams!) to help grow to hundreds of millions billions of users.

So I join Lookout as Director of Operations because these are the challenges that make me tick.

managing or leading?

“People want to be led by someone they know. Someone they trust.” ~ https://popforms.com/death-to-top-down-leadership/

More than five years ago I started managing a team. Five years later I wasn’t so much as managing a team of 60 as I was leading a team of 60.

There’s a big difference between the two words managing & leading. One is much harder than the other. One is tactical. A means to an end. Book knowledge.


Leader

lead·er [ˈlēdər]
noun: someone who knows where they’d like to go, but understands that they can’t get there without their tribe, without giving those they lead the tools to make something happen; takes responsibility

Manager

man·ag·er [ˈmanijər]
noun: someone who works to get their employees to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper; wants authority


The other is empowering. It is a way of mentoring and teaching. It is about inspiring others to follow into the unknown. To take risks. To accept failure. To require failure.

For those who on paper I manage, it is more than simply a means to an end.

It’s about me focusing on you – my tribe – and only on you.

It’s about me being authentic & vulnerable. It’s about me trusting you.

It’s me helping you grow. It’s you helping us grow.

And in the process we get stuff done.

Rebooting Community IT, Part 3

[After Part 1 & Part 2 I thought I was done. But the more I reflected on what Community IT could be I realized there’s a Part 3 where I’ll share some of the thinking we came up with that resulted in a Draft Proposal.]

The CSA

This past January I started working with my former colleague @thunder (currently at Creative Commons) and my friend and then current colleague @solarce (Mozilla Webops) on what it would be like to have an organization comprised of volunteer SysAdmins who would lend their time to help manage infrastructure & systems for open source and public benefit organizations. Not too unlike the Open Source Lab but extending to not just open source projects but organizations like Creative Commons or Mozilla.

We called this Community SysAdmins or CSA.

Some of the thinking that went into the January draft was based on our collective experiences at Mozilla, especially around organizational governance – modules and module owners, for example.

My thoughts around this continued and I began to think more about reasons why Community IT within Mozilla hadn’t taken off. Or why it had taken off very slowly.

I started to see a model where it could work and it was not unlike the Mozilla Reps model.

ReMo structure (draft)

ReMo structure (draft)

  • CSA Advisory Board Leadership Council (~ ReMo council)
  • Core group of Community SysAdmin Mentors (~ Mozilla Reps)
  • Community IT/SysAdmin/Ops volunteers (~ Mozilla contributors)

Rebooting Community IT with CSA

As we start thinking about what it means to Reboot Community IT, I want to share the draft CSA proposal we created and re-ask these modified five questions I asked in Part 2:

  1. What impact does this group want to have on open source projects and public benefit organizations?
  2. How do we become a force multiplier for your organization?
  3. What are our 9-12 month goals and objectives?
  4. How do we do it?
  5. How do we work with your existing IT Operations as partners?

And ask one more:

  1. How do we create the CSA to support organizations like Mozilla or Creative Commons, for example?

Continue reading

Rebooting Community IT, Part 2

[This is Part 2. In Part 1 I wrote about where we started from and where we are today. In this post I’ll share where I want us to go.]

From 2011 to 2013, Mozilla IT’s impact on the Mozilla Community lead to Air Mozilla and Community Website/Email Hosting.

CSAimageThe holy grail was something more. Something where volunteer contributors were running or helping run websites and working with Mozilla IT Operations.

Something where there is a “talented group of volunteer SysAdmins who want to devote some of their time to help the open source and open communities with non-profit organizations that work to create open source and a better, open Web.”

[I blatantly lifted that off communitysysadmins.org – an effort I started with a small cohort of people early in 2013.]

Mozilla & Community IT Operations
There hasn’t ever been a Community IT Operations anything at Mozilla.

Throughout my tenure at Mozilla we’d occasionally spin up servers or services that would be managed by someone in the community. We’d even support whole projects that were related to Mozilla but largely independent projects (Camino & SeaMonkey, for instance).

But unfortunately this felt very ad-hoc. These where difficult to support within Mozilla IT Operations.

What’s Next?
With my Mozilla contributor hat on, I want to build a new movement.

I want to start with a focus on Mozilla and build a Community IT / SysAdmin / Operations movement.

And I know we can do it.

We will be fierce. No one will build into the Internet the kinds of things we want to build.

Community IT Operations Kick Off Meeting
I want to invite you to join my movement and our kick off meeting. We’re still sorting out then when (scheduling is hard – check out this Doodle to help me find a time).

In the mean time, think about how you’d answer these questions:

  • What impact does this group want to have on the Mozilla project?
  • How do we become a force multiplier for Mozilla?
  • What are our 9-12 month goals and objectives?
  • How do we do it?
  • How do we work with Mozilla IT Operations as partners?

Join communityit@mozilla.org and watch https://wiki.mozilla.org/IT/Community for updates.

Join me?

We will be fierce. No one will build into the Internet the kinds of things we want to build.

Rebooting Community IT, Part 1

It’s been awhile since I talked about (Mozilla) Community IT.

In Part 1 I want to recap where we started from and where we are today. In Part 2 I’ll talk about What’s Next.

In October 2011 I asked the following question:

“How can Mozilla IT impact the Mozilla Community?”

Within Mozilla IT I helped focus our efforts around three pillars:

  1. Community IT
  2. Community/Volunteer Sysadmins
  3. Air Mozilla

I was even so bold to call out three specific goals for the end of 2012:

  1. to have 5-10 volunteer Community Sysadmins actively helping run Mozilla’s network and servers.
  2. to have a vibrant Community IT group…
  3. to have a premiere source for open source video technology, a site where the Mozilla Community can find, share and create video content

I feel that I generally failed. Or rather, I did not meet the goals I set out.

But I’ve talked about failure before and the Mozilla IT I left is not the same that it was in 2011. In fact, on behalf of my former team, I’ll claim the following two successes:

  1. Air Mozilla.

    In 2011 this wasn’t a thing. No one cared about it.

    Nearly a year later we were discussing specific policies on what we’d stream (public? internal?). A year later it was assumed everything we did would be streamed.

    Air Mozilla became one of the primary communication tools at Mozilla.

  2. Created infrastructure for Community Website/Email Hosting.

    Through Mozilla Reps, Mozilla IT worked to provide Email hosting for 13 communities and Website hosting for more than 29 hosted sites.

Essentially, Mozilla IT literally empowered the Mozilla Community to promote the Mozilla Mission.

Ironically, that was the over arching goal I called out in the third paragraph October 2011.

So maybe I didn’t fail as much as I thought?

on leaving mozilla

Mozilla IT 2012

Mozilla IT 2012

Last Wednesday, July 31, I left Mozilla as a full time paid-staff.

Seven years at Mozilla has fundamentally changed how I operate. It’s redefined my values and helped define my personal mission & purpose.

The impact I had on Mozilla and on the Mozilla Project extended far outside Mozilla IT Operations and I hope to continue to be connected to the Mozilla Project (but more on that in another post).

For now I’ll simply share the note I sent to Everyone@Mozilla:

Adios, au revoir, sayonara

On March 15, 2006 I quietly joined Mozilla. Seven years and four months later, I quietly take my leave.  July 31 will be my last day here.

I had this moment of clarity awhile ago when I realized I have an awesome set of leaders under me and it was time, as Mitchell has said, to let them step into new roles and for me to step out.

To my Mozilla IT:

I have enjoyed being there for you.

I have enjoyed seeing you grow.

I have enjoyed seeing you handle some crazy, complicated challenges.

I will miss the camaraderie we developed and shared with each other.

I will miss the late nights working with you.

You always worked with me, never for me. And as much as I tried to help you, you helped me.

For this, and much much more, I thank you.

To my friends,

I made friends with people I worked with, people who are friends first and co-workers second.  I will miss seeing you every day. This is probably the hardest realization.

You have helped me grow and become who I am today.

To All@Mozilla,

In many ways, you, and this organization, have made an impact on me that cannot be undone.

My thoughts and actions have been shaped by what we have collectively been accomplishing and what we have set out to accomplish.

I could write much much more, of course so I’ll just leave with this:

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”