Stepping Away from Upstream Kubernetes

June 22, 2021

This post is adapted from my message sent to the Kubernetes SIG Release mailing list.

I got involved in the Kubernetes community right after finishing school, primarily by working on the tooling used to test and release each of the components of the project. From the beginning, I was shown a tremendous amount of respect and care, and that has remained constant since. That being said, over the past two years I have seen my interests evolve rapidly. I have always been interested in “low-level” software, but my view of what that means has changed fairly dramatically. When I was in school, I viewed Kubernetes as low-level systems software, but the more I have pursued a fundamental understanding of computers, that view has shifted to Kubernetes feeling rather high in the proverbial “stack”. As I have sought out opportunities to get “closer to the metal”, the time I had previously reserved for my upstream contributions has been more dedicated to projects and learning around topics like processor design, FPGAs, and compilers.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t plenty of work to do in Kubernetes that requires knowledge of lower level concepts. For example, much of the work SIG Node does revolves around fairly complex Linux capabilities. I would not be surprised if I made an effort to become more involved in those efforts at some point in the future. That being said, with a very demanding day job at Upbound, a rapidly growing open source community around Crossplane, and my aforementioned shift in interests, I have made the difficult decision to step down as a SIG Release Tech Lead.

After seeing so many folks step away from open source communities due to toxic, exclusive behavior, I consider myself extremely fortunate to walk away with nothing but positive things to say about the folks I have interacted with and worked alongside. I want to take a moment to mention a few of those folks and the tremendous impact they have had on me.

Stephen Augustus, Lauri Apple, Sascha Grunert, and Jeremy Rickard (as well as Tim Pepper and Jorge Alarcon) have been my SIG Release family, and I have had the tremendous opportunity to learn from and grow alongside each of them. While everyone knows it at this point, Stephen is one of the most tremendous human beings I have ever encountered. From the day I applied to the Kubernetes Release Team, Stephen has been a mentor, a friend, and an inspiration. Sascha and Jeremy have had somewhat similar journeys as I have over the past few years (though I dare not compare my impact to the tremendous work they have done and continue to do). It has been a joy to learn and take on more responsibility as they have done the same. Lauri… words cannot describe what I have learned from Lauri. She is one of the most determined, resilient, and caring folks I have ever encountered in open source, and she is all about the best outcome for the community. She has reshaped much of the processes around how folks work together in the Kubernetes community, and I have applied much of the knowledge she has shared in other aspects of my professional and personal life.

Adolfo García Veytia and Carlos Panato are a major reason why I am stepping away (in a good way!). While I have been a Tech Lead, they have been leading me in the time, effort, and care they put into SIG Release and the Release Engineering subproject. I am so grateful to call them my friends, and with their recent promotions to Tech Leads, I have full confidence that the responsibilities I have carried will be handled with even more expertise with them running the show.

My first role in the Kubernetes community was as a Release Team Shadow on the CI Signal team. This team will always share a special place in my heart, and is something I particularly enjoyed because it requires deep technical knowledge of Kubernetes, all of the testing infrastructure, and the organizational structure and responsibilities of various groups in the community. I had the privilege to shadow Alena Varkockova during my first cycle on the team, which undoubtedly led me to continue to pursue more responsibility in the community. While I was still learning, Alena empowered me, invested time in helping me advance, and generally showed a great deal of kindness. I hope that I have reflected at least some of those values towards others in the community who have come after me. Another important individual from my work on CI Signal is Rob Kielty. Rob got started in the community by shadowing me after I had moved into the CI Signal lead role, and immediately showed a great deal of interest and investment. Rob then became the CI Signal lead himself, and has continued to invest in folks who have held the position in subsequent cycles. I am grateful to have been able to work with Rob on those teams, as well as livestreams, documentation efforts, and more.

Lastly, there are a few folks that are leaders in the community outside of SIG Release, some of whom I have interacted with more than others, but all of whom have been inspirations to me.

There are countless others who are not mentioned here that have also had a large impact on me and the community. Thank you to all of you for making this one of the best experiences of my life. I will still be around, but will not be taking on any formal positions in the Kubernetes community for the foreseeable future. Please feel free to reach out at any time if I can be of help. Onwards and upwards!

Dan