Blog Article:

All-Remote Manifesto: OpenNebula Systems Goes Fully Distributed

Ignacio M. Llorente

Chief Executive Officer at OpenNebula

Sep 20, 2021

Three years ago OpenNebula Systems started a new journey to bring cloud computing to the edge. Now, with the release of version 6.0 “Mutara”, OpenNebula has become the first open source orchestration platform for the Datacenter-Cloud-Edge continuum. This has been feasible thanks to the highly distributed architecture of OpenNebula and the development of new, innovative features for container execution, automatic resource provisioning, and multi-cloud deployment.

As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, now is the moment to fortify our remote, distributed infrastructure and build a more inclusive, dynamic workplace. As a company with roots in distributed computing, distributed management has been the main part of our DNA since we started OpenNebula in 2008, and now we take an important step to transform OpenNebula Systems into a fully distributed company. Just as edge computing distributes data processing out of centralized data centers and onto edge nodes, we see a similar trend in the workforce. Work cannot be tied to rigid systems; our team workers are located in different networked locations that will communicate and coordinate their actions through a fully distributed operation framework. The distributed work paradigm means that where you’re located should not be a factor in your performance, participation, and your career. 

Why Take This Step and What Does It Mean?

Inspired by GitLab and its all-remote movement, we are adopting a fully distributed work policy to improve talent recruitment and retention, employee wellness, and long-term flexibility, adaptability, and scalability. While there are certainly some businesses and industries that still require some degree of face-to-face interaction, we think remote-first is a preferable way of working for OpenNebula Systems.

Each individual in OpenNebula Systems will be empowered to work and live where they are most fulfilled, as every team member is equal. No one, not even the executive team, meets in person on a daily basis. Fully distributed is an evolution of the remote-first system that embodies many of the principles that create a thriving all-remote culture: 

  • Hiring and working from all over the world instead of from a group of central locations, this includes the executive team.
  • All documentation, policies, and workflows will assume that 100% of the organization is remote
  • Prioritize writing down and recording knowledge and processes over verbal explanations or on-the-job training.
  • Prioritize formal communication on group channels over informal communication channels, following the key motto at Apache: “If it didn’t happen on the mailing list, it didn’t happen” to ensure communication is asynchronous and archived. 
  • Focus on our own work and avoid being overwhelmed by too much chat and too many meetings.
  • Avoid department and team silos, and empower integration, adaptability, and agility of the workers to respond to dynamic needs.
  • No location hierarchy: there is no single location or region that is more important than another. Team members work asynchronously, ensuring that no time zone is seen as more significant than another.
  • Offices will simply be venues to work remotely from, and not the epicenter of power or culture.
  • Due to legal, security, and regulatory rules in each country, we cannot be digital nomads, fully location independent, and we should define our main work location. 

Working remotely does not mean we are not having in-person interactions. OpenNebula Systems values in-person interactions and will plan them intentionally. We will organize multiple events, like regular company summits, team meetings, or local coworking days, where the team will connect in person to build relationships that will help us operate even more effectively when we’re not physically together. 

The Transition from Remote-friendly to Remote-first

The transition to a remote-first organization will be a continuous process that brings its own challenges. However, we are not starting from scratch. We have been remote-friendly for many years, with 40% of our personnel located away from our main headquarters in the EU and US. Moreover, the pandemic made us work fully remotely for several months, we have a global distributed user community, and our enterprise subscriptions and services are offered remotely. This saves costs for our customers and provides the flexibility they need in today’s fast-paced environment.

With our fully distributed system, we want to avoid the potential inequality problems of a two-tier work environment generated by a remote-friendly company. As a remote-friendly company, we have allowed employees to work remotely a certain number of days a week, but this has not been the overall organization’s primary mode of working; we have still conducted most of our daily operations in person. For those not in the office regularly, hybrid-remote often has meant less access to information and the feeling of being excluded from what is likely a primarily in-office, synchronous culture. On the other hand, those working in the office every day may feel resentment towards their remote coworkers who don’t have a regular commute and are able to have more flexibility in their lives. Now, as a remote-first company, we are tailoring our operations around a consistent employee experience no matter where the person is working. We are assuming a fully remote workforce and setting up our operations to be able to run consistently and effectively regardless of where people are at any given moment.

We’re living through challenging times. But we believe it brings an opportunity to redesign the way we work for the better. While we think remote-first is the right choice, it’s new for us and we know we may not get it 100% right immediately. We are starting a journey to build remote fluency in our organization. In the following months, we will be implementing new operational processes to help our people and organization embrace remote work and the future of living

🌎 We are a global team, and we are growing, so if you are looking for an exciting new challenge… we want to hear from you!

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