Eight people, five days, one OpenStack book

This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in a Book Sprint. A marathon of sorts, a Book Sprint is where a group of people dedicate an entire week to writing a book from start to finish.

The goal of this Sprint was to write an operations manual for OpenStack. While documentation exists for installing and developing code for OpenStack, there has never been a definitive source of information for people in operations. For example, topics like designing a cloud, monitoring a cloud, and troubleshooting issues in a cloud have been scattered or kept internal to individual organizations.

To resolve this, five OpenStack operators and three documentation experts met in Austin, Texas to set out to write the official OpenStack Operators Guide.

The team consisted of Tom Fifield from NeCTAR, Diane Fleming from Rackspace, Anne Gentle from Rackspace, Lorin Hochstein from Nimbus, Adam Hyde from FLOSS Manuals, Jonathan Proulx from MIT, Everett Toews from Rackspace (as well as a Cybera alumni), and myself.

While we had some work prepared ahead of time, we began Monday morning from scratch. Within a few hours, we had walls full of sticky notes grouped together to begin forming the chapters of the book. Once we had that completed, we spent the rest of the week writing. By the end of Thursday, we had a rough draft completed. Friday was spent editing (see matrix) and adding any section that was forgotten.

Overall, this was an amazing experience. The most interesting part was the fact that five operators could be stuck in a room together for five days, and get along great. People ask what we argued about the most or what ideas had to be cut, or if there was any other drama of that sort. There wasn't any, unless you count some simple spelling and grammar. We all shared the same ideas about what needed to be written and the same drive to see the project done to completion.

The book was officially released this past Tuesday to a great reception. You can read it online, or purchase a printed copy, on the OpenStack homepage.