Knative governance update from the steering committee

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Open source collaboration exemplifies the best aspects of contributors and companies uniting to solve difficult technical problems. And, at Google, we support thousands of projects, each with their own unique communities and challenges. Recently, the Knative Steering Committee came together to write a letter that distills this ethos, and we wanted to share it with you here.


Dear Knative Community,

Since the previous announcement on Knative ownership and stewardship, we’ve heard a lot of feedback from you, and the ecosystem at large. As a Steering Committee, our primary job is guiding the long-term success of the project, and this really means your success building great things with Knative. 

In order to accomplish that important goal, it requires everyone involved to be aligned on our values, what it means to be an active contributor, how you build progressive trust and responsibility, and fundamentally how we work together to build that success. The Kubernetes project explicitly defined these, and for us as a governing body, they strongly resonate. We will work to construct similar values and vet them across our community.

Trust is the heart of open source. And, clear governance is a means of building and maintaining that trust. It also provides clear signal to future contributors that joining the community is a good bet, and that everyone is visibly working toward the same goals. While there are always differences in approaches and ideas, the power of the community is its ability to collectively reconcile for the benefit of our user community first and foremost. This project is bigger than any one company or individual.

These aspirations are not enough. They will require rethinking how we structure project governance. The overarching goals of the project's governance will be:
    • Create a clear and documented contributor ladder that recognizes both code and non-code contributions as valuable, and provides a means to obtain membership in governance bodies like the Technical Oversight Committee and Steering Committee based on those contributions.
    • Allow the Steering Committee to oversee the usage and implementation of the Knative trademark, with the intent of limiting confusion for adopters, and providing assurances of implementation consistency. Google will provide the Steering Committee with a legal escalation path for enforcement when needed.
    • Widen the contributor community to include additional vendors, end-users, and ecosystem stakeholders such that fair, representational governance organically prevents any one vendor from having a majority in any part of the project. To be clear, no one company should aspire to control outcomes, as that is inherently in conflict with the goal of community stewardship. Committee representation must be a reflection of the diversity of contributors, and also allocated fairly based on the people doing the work. This is of course a delicate balance, but one we intend to solve with community input.
    • Develop the governance documents, community feedback, required tooling for metrics collection, and whatever else is necessary to enact these changes. Because the community we have now is ideally a small subset of the community we aspire to see in a year, we will target a one-year transition period to the new governance we define, similar to how the Kubernetes project moved from a bootstrap committee and charter to the new community-driven model. Building consensus is a painstaking process, so it is important to allocate enough time for all voices to be heard.
The most important takeaway here is that we are working together on this, and will do so with community input, in an inclusive way. This is the beginning of the process, and we want to go back to our roots and focus on the problems we are trying to solve for adopters of our work. Let's take this moment and rejoin our efforts to do great things together.

Respectfully yours,

Michael Behrendt (IBM), Brenda Chan (Pivotal), Paul Morie (Red Hat), Jaice Singer DuMars (Google), Ryan Gregg (Google), Donna Malayeri (Google), Tomas Isdal (Google)

Members, Knative Steering Committee