User:BryanDavis/Rebranding Cloud Services products

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One component of the internal Foundation pitch for creating the mw:Wikimedia Cloud Services team (WMCS) was that this would provide an opportunity to break with the past and undertake a rebranding effort designed to address the 'Labs labs labs problem', as well as to raise awareness in the Wikimedia communities of the products and services offered under the Cloud Services umbrella.

The use of the term 'labs' in relation to multiple related but distinct products, and the natural tendency to shorten often used names, leads to confusion. Additionally the term 'labs' itself when applied to software commonly denotes experimental projects. The OpenStack cloud and tools hosting environments maintained by WMCS graduated from an experiment to viable customer facing projects long ago. Both environments host projects with varying levels of maturity, but the collective group of projects should not be considered experimental or inconsequential.

Renaming a collection of projects that have been around for more than five years is a non-trivial exercise. The main point here is to reduce confusion in communications and messaging. We do not need to eliminate the use of the word 'labs' everywhere to do that, but we should do so in the most obvious and public locations where feasible.

The WMCS team is seeking input on the proposed changes from the Wikimedia technical community. This is a consultation and not consensus based decision making process. Not all things are possible in this space due to various restrictions including trademarks and copyrights. Also we do not want to end up with a large number of votes to rename the #labs Phabricator project to #cloudymccloudface. (We can totally make that a secondary label though!)

We are especially looking for input on:

  • areas affected by the Labs labs labs confusion that are not addressed here
  • major harmful impacts of the proposed changes
  • naming conflicts with existing Wikimedia or FLOSS projects that will cause confusion

Rebranding products

Product Old name New name Shortened versions
Foundation team Labs Wikimedia Cloud Services Cloud Services, WMCS
OpenStack hosting Wikimedia Labs Wikimedia VPS VPS
Tools hosting Tool Labs Toolforge Tools (discouraged, but inevitable)

Wikimedia Labs is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation. Changes to this mark require paperwork and fees. For that reason, we are not proposing changing the unicorn logo that is part of the existing mark. Modifying only the wordmark is easier to accomplish.

Rebranding communication channels

Email

Purpose Old name New name
General communications labs-l cloud-l
Announcements labs-announce cloud-announce

IRC

Purpose Old name New name
General discussion #wikimedia-labs #wikimedia-cloud
Team channel #wikimedia-labs-admin #wikimedia-cloud-admin

Phabricator

Purpose Old name New name Notes
Umbrella #labs #cloud-services
OpenStack hosting #labs-infrastructure #vps sub-project of #cloud-services
New project and quota change requests - #vps-project-requests milestone of #vps
Tools hosting #tool-labs #toolforge sub-project of #cloud-services
Kubernetes #tools-kubernetes archive project and use #kubernetes tag to decorate issues when needed
Database replicas ? #labs-infrastructure #data-services sub-project of #cloud-services
Misc volunteer tools #tool-labs-tools-other #tools sub-project of #cloud-services
Volunteer tools #tool-labs-tools-* #tool-* sub-projects of #tools
Misc volunteer projects #labs-project-other #vps-projects sub-project of #cloud-services
Volunteer projects #labs-project-* #vps-project-* sub-projects of #vps-projects
#cloud-services
 ├─ #data-services
 ├─ #toolforge
 ├─ #tools
 |   ├─ #tool-X
 |   ├─ #tool-Y
 |   └─ #tool-Z
 ├─ #vps
 |   └─ #vps-project-requests (milestone)
 ├─ #vps-projects
     ├─ #vps-project-X
     ├─ #vps-project-Y
     └─ #vps-project-Z

A mockup of this hierachy can be seen on phabricator-striker.wmflabs.org. See the comparison matrix on mediawiki.org for an explanation of the differences between a milestone and a sub-project.

Database replicas

  • Use "Wiki Replicas" in place of "replicas of production MySQL databases" in documentation because these are really per wiki replicas of our production databases.
  • Use *.wiki-replica for DNS service names instead of *.labsdb.
  • Keep the ToolsDB name and tools-db service name unchanged.
  • Any future new data sources will have their own distinct name (e.g. 'Data Lake', 'Cirrus mirror')

Updating wiki content

There will be a lot of pages to rename and edit on wikitech, a few on mediawikiwiki, a few on enwiki, and a few more on metawiki. This will take time and help from volunteers willing to hunt the pages down and make the edits (or write bots to do it!). Initial efforts will probably focus on updating the wikitech main page and the portal landing pages it links to.

Changing domain names

The Foundation has acquired several new domain names related to Cloud Services:

  • wikimediacloud.org
  • wikimediacloudservices.org
  • wmcloud.org
  • toolforge.org

The wmcloud.org domain is expected to replace most uses of the current wmflabs.org domain over time. We will need a long period of overlap where both the old *.wmflabs.org and the new *.wmcloud.org hostnames work. Once all the needed components are in place for wmcloud.org we can stop handing out new wmflabs.org names however.

The toolforge.org will be used as the eventual replacement for Toolforge hosting. This conversion will also need to be done such that existing tool URLs continue to work for as long as is reasonably possible and necessary. The https://toolserver.org/ domain is still hosted by the Foundation more than three years after it was decommissioned for active use.

We would like to transition the urls used for Toolforge hosted tools from the current tools.wmflabs.org/$tool scheme to a $tool.toolforge.org scheme (T125589). Ideally we will figure out how to do this in a single step so that there is not an intermediate toolforge.org/$tool scheme as well. The ideal transition would make https://tools.wmflabs.org/$tool, https://$tool.toolforge.org/, and https://$tool.toolforge.org/$tool work simultaneously and allow tool maintainers to update their documentation (and code if necessary) over a relatively long period of time.

Updating internal configuration

We use the 'labs' label in a lot of places including LDAP, Puppet, and MediaWiki configuration. We also use it in hostnames for hosts like labscontrol1001, etc. We need to make a list of such uses and then examine them on a case by case basis to determine the best course of action for each.

Timeline

Once the scope of the rebranding has been defined, more detailed plans will be made on how to proceed. As noted previously, eliminating all traces of the term 'labs' is not a reasonable goal. A more reasonable plan will be to change the biggest impact items first and establish a time limit for additional 'long tail' work. The main renaming effort is likely to be chosen as a fiscal year 2017/2018 quarter 1 (July 2017-September 2017) project with additional lower priority work carrying on through quarter 2 (October 2017-December 2017).