Which company contributes most to OpenStack?

DreamHost chipped in most lines of code to OpenStack over past six months, but Red Hat amassed far more commits

Although Rackspace can lay claim to contributing the most lines of code to the OpenStack project since its inception in 2010, DreamHost has emerged as the top code contributor over the past six months, followed by Red Hat. More than 80 percent of the DreamHost-generated code is specifically for Havana, the version of OpenStack slated for release in October.

However, before we bestow DreamHost with a trophy for "Biggest OpenStack Contributor of 2013," consider this: The company accounted for only 109 commits since January, whereas Red Hat led the pack with 1,695 commits. Does that make Red Hat the reigning champ of OpenStack contributions? It's not exactly cut and dried.

That data comes from a Stackalytics, a tool created by Mirantis to provide transparency as to who is contributing to OpenStack and which modules are receiving the most attention in terms of both lines of code and commits. (As a refresher, a commit is a unit of work performed by a developer when he or she creates, fixes, or deletes some code in a particular module; lines of code refer to each line of code a developer creates, fixes, or deletes.)

Who cares which organizations are cranking out the most code for OpenStack or any open source project for that matter? As observed last year by Joe Brockmeier, "It's always interesting to see who really contributes to open source projects. That's doubly true when it comes to projects that are corporate-driven, because they provide a lot of insight into which companies are driving a project and have a stake in supporting it."

DreamHost has a stake in supporting OpenStack. The Los Angeles-based company unveiled its OpenStack-based DreamCompute public IaaS offering last October and plans to push the service into general availability in the near future. The company's senior cloud engineer, Mark McClain, is the technical lead for the OpenStack Networking Project, formerly known as Quantum.

Red Hat, too, has a stake in OpenStack. Last month, the company announced the RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) OpenStack Platform, built to serve as a foundation for customers' own OpenStack clouds, along with an IaaS known as Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure. The services line up with the Red Hat's vision of building an enterprise-ready version of the OpenStack cloud.

Other major contributors, both in terms of commits and lines of code, include IBM, HP, Mirantis, Nebula, and (of course) OpenStack creator Rackspace. They also all have a stake in OpenStack's success.

Before digging into the data, let's revisit the question of what's more valuable: lines of code or commits. I ran that question by InfoWorld contributor and application developer Peter Wayner, and he provided this perspective:

It's dangerous to put too much stock in this because not every line of code is equal. And if we start counting lines, developers will have an incentive to write overly long, verbose comments just to puff up their contribution. Also, sometimes a few clever lines are much, much more important than 10,000 average lines.

The commits is also hard to analyze. Some people like Linus Torvalds like to commit often and share frequently. Others wait until something is really working. And then the guy accepting the commits can accept them one at a time or in a big batch.

With those caveats in mind, here's a serving of the data. Over the past six month, DreamHost has contributed 238,596 lines of code to OpenStack, representing 16 percent of the total. Red Hat has submitted the second-highest number lines at 220,165, followed by Rackspace with 172,874, IBM with 154,233, and HP with 127,406.

Which company contributes most to OpenStack?

In terms of commits over the past six months, the picture shifts: Red Hat claims 1,695 commits over the past six months, representing 21 percent of the total. IBM holds the No. 2 spot with 865 commits (11 percent), followed by Mirantis with 817, Rackspace with 808, and HP with 781. DreamHost is way down on the list in the 13th slot with 109 commits.

As a point of comparison, Rackspace and Nebula have contributed the most lines of code to OpenStack overall -- unsurprising, given that they launched the OpenStack initiative back in 2010. Rackspace has contributed 2,598,806 lines of code in all (33 percent of the total); Nebula is credited with 1,819,596 (23 percent). Red Hat comes in at a distant third overall with 592,373 lines (8 percent). The fourth-largest contribution, 542,645 lines, came from a collective of 300 independent engineers. DreamHost, IBM, and HP follow with 274,686, 244,323, and 224,955 respectively. (Dreamhost claims 14th place overall with 57,750 contributed lines of code.)

In terms of overall commits since the birth of OpenStack, Rackspace leads with 7,021, which is 21 percent of the total. Next comes Nebula with 5,436, followed by Red Hat at 5,368, independent developers with a collective 2,626, HP with 1,446, and IBM with 1,318. (DreamHost is down in the No. 17 spot with 333 commits.)

These figures are the tip of the iceberg: With Stackalytics, you can dig in to which modules have received the most contributions (nova, both in terms of lines and commits), which developers have submitted the most lines (Sirish Chandra Bitra with 118,814) and commits (Tomas Sedovic, 133), and more.

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