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The OpenInfra Foundation launches ‘directed funding’ as a new way to support open-source projects

The OpenInfra Foundation, the open-source foundation that used to be the OpenStack Foundation until it expanded its scope beyond its flagship project a few years ago, today announced an interesting new way for companies to fund open-source projects inside the foundation. Traditionally, corporate me…

  • Posted on 07th Jun, 2022 11:45 AM
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The OpenInfra Foundation launches ‘directed funding’ as a new way to support open-source projects Image

The OpenInfra Foundation, the open-source foundation that used to be the OpenStack Foundation until it expanded its scope beyond its flagship project a few years ago, today announced an interesting new way for companies to fund open-source projects inside the foundation. Traditionally, corporate members of open-source foundations support the organization by paying a membership fee, which, for the most part, the foundations then distribute as they see fit. Now, with its new ‘Directed Funding’ model, the OpenInfra foundation is launching a new model that allows members to direct their funds directly to a project.

I think, in general, our communities are well recognized for having very strong technical governance and very clear rules around how technical decisions are madeand people appreciate that and the firewall between sponsorship and those technical decisions,” Jonathan Bryce, the OpenInfra Foundation’s CEO and executive director, told me ahead of today’s announcement. “I think what we were kind of missing in some cases in that model was the ability toand you’ll maybe you’ll see where the term came from — direct funding to a specific project.”

The reason the foundation didn’t previously allow this is because, as Bryce noted, it can create mixed incentives and a pay-for-play dynamic that the organization has always tried to avoid. But at the same time, there was a lot of interest in the community to support specific projects, which makes sense, given that the foundation is now home to a wider variety of projects but where not every member is heavily invested in every project.

Bryce noted that the foundation leadership and board spent a lot of time thinking about how to marry the core principles of the foundation with this new model. The result is a model that tries to combine the best of the OpenStack/OpenInfra technical governance model that has worked quite well over the last 10 years with these new financial considerations.

Every new project under this ‘directed funding’ model will get its own legal entity that will hold the project funding. To ensure that the new projects are legit, an OpenInfra Platinum member (there are 9 right now, including Ant Group, Huawei, Meta, Microsoft and Red Hat) has to serve as the sponsor for the projects and other organizations can then join the project fund. If a sponsor company isn’t an OpenInfra member, it has to become one. All of these funding members then form a project fund governing board and that board decides the fees to create a budget. Meanwhile, the OpenInfra Foundation will deliver community-building services to these projects.

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