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Re: [Discussion] Clarify the support story for released Beam versions


Thanks Ahmet for looking into this. I have a follow-up question. Have you thought about the next few releases, and which one will be the first LTS release? Also, how should we track this?
-P.

On Wed, Aug 15, 2018 at 11:24 AM Ahmet Altay <altay@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
PR is reviewed and merged. Thank you all for the input. If you did not have a chance to share your feedback, please propose any modifications that you would like to see. I will be more than happy to make changes that would allows us to serve our users better.

On Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 4:32 PM, Ahmet Altay <altay@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Still waiting for any additional user feedback to come. I added reviewers to the PR. Unless there is objections or additional feedback I would like to go ahead with this version as it is. Modifications after that would always be welcome.

On Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 2:06 PM, Rafael Fernandez <rfernand@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
I think this will great for the project! It's worked well for others (such as Ubuntu). I like that this remains compatible with our desire to release every six weeks, while keeping the support/patch load manageable.

Release: +1 single process. This is just a statement of what we commit to service.

On Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 12:31 PM Ahmet Altay <altay@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
I was not proposing any additional changes to the release process. If we think that release process could be improved it would make sense to apply it to all releases.

On Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 11:01 AM, Lukasz Cwik <lcwik@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Charles, I would keep the process the same with respect to releasing.

On Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 11:00 AM Charles Chen <ccy@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
(sending to the dev@ list thread as this is more relevant here than users@)

Will we be using a different / potentially more rigorous process for releasing LTS releases?  Or do we feel that any validations that could possibly be done should already be incorporated into each release?

On Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 10:57 AM Ahmet Altay <altay@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Update:

I sent out an email to user@ to collect their feedback [1]. I will encourage everyone here to collect feedback from the other channels available to you. To facilitate the discussion I drafted my proposal in a PR [2].

Ahmet


On Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 5:20 PM, Lukasz Cwik <lcwik@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Thanks, I can see the reasoning for LTS releases based upon some enterprise customers needs.

Forgot about the 2.1.1 Python release. Thanks for pointing that out.

On Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 4:47 PM Ahmet Altay <altay@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

On Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 12:33 PM, Lukasz Cwik <lcwik@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
I like the ideas that your proposing but am wondering what value if any do supporting LTS releases add? We maintain semantic versioning and I would expect that most users would be using the latest released version if not the release just before that. There is likely a long tail of users who will use a specific version and are unlikely to ever upgrade.

I believe there is a category of enterprise users who would continue to use a specific version as long as they know they can get support for it. This usually stems from the need to have a stable environment. There is also the aspect of validating new product before using. I know some companies have validation cycles longer than 6 weeks. They will still upgrade but they would like to upgrade much less frequently.

I was hoping that defining LTS releases will signal these types of users what releases are worth upgrading to if they have a high cost of upgrading.

This comes from my anecdotal evidence and I may be wrong.
 

I believe it would be valuable to ask our users what is most important to them with respect to the policy (after we have discussed it a little bit) as well since ultimately our goal is to help our users.

I agree with this. Since I am referring to enterprise users primarily I think some of it will require the companies here to collect that feedback.
 
This could then be documented and we could provide guidance to customers as to how to reach out to the group for big bugs. Also note that Apache has a security policy[1] in place which we should direct users to.

I think document what could be expected of Beam in terms of support would be very valuable by itself. It will also help us figure out what we could drop. For example in the recent discussion to drop old API docs, there was no clear guidance on which SDKs are still supported and should have their API docs hosted. 

I think we reference to the Apache security policy on our website. If not I agree, we should add a reference to it.
 

Also, we don't have any experience in patching a release as we haven't yet done one patch version bump. All issues that have been brought up were always fixed in the next minor version bump.

I agree. There was the Python 2.1.1 but that is the only example I could remember.
 

On Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 11:50 AM Pablo Estrada <pabloem@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
I think this all sounds reasonable, and I think it would be a good story for our users. We don't have much experience with patching releases, but I guess it's a matter of learning and improving over time.
-P.

On Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 9:04 PM Ahmet Altay <altay@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Hi all,

I would like us to clarify the life cycle of Beam releases a little bit more for our users. I think we increased the predictability significantly by agreeing to a release cadence and kudos to everyone on that. As a follow up to that I would like to address the following problem:

It is unclear for a user of Beam how long an existing version will be supported. And if it will be supported at all, what does that support mean. (This is especially an important problem for users who would like to use stable versions and care less about being on the cutting edge.)

Our current state is:

- With our agreed release cadence Beam makes 8 releases a year.
- We have precedence for patching released versions for major issues.
- Patching all existing releases at any point (even patching a year full of 8 releases) will be significant work.

With the problem and the information, I have the following proposal to define the life cycle of existing releases.

- Define what is a major issue with Beam. (For example this could be high severity security issues and high risk data integrity issues.)
- Have a concept of long term support (LTS) releases. Designate every 4th release as an LTS release (~6 months).
- Deprecate non-LTS releases the moment any new Beam release is out. Never patch non-LTS releases.
- Deprecate LTS releases after a new LTS release comes out. Patch any LTS release within 1 year of its initial release date.
- Add the above information to our website.

I think this proposal would give clear information to our users about what they can expect from us, and reduce our burden to maintain existing releases.

I also would like to state my assumptions:

- Releases will happen not because of a policy but because there are volunteers willing to do it. This proposal is only a framework for those volunteers to take action. If Beam does not support its releases, with or without a policy, we will reduce the trust of our users.
- After we agreed to have a regular release cadence we started to see improvements towards having regular releases even though we did not perfectly hit 6 weeks mark each time. I do expect the same here: an improvement in the direction of user happiness even if we cannot be perfect.

What do you think?

Ahmet
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