Unpopular opinion alert (and Disclaimer)…
Call me old fashioned, but I thought two of the top tenets of open source were candor and goodwill. I thought it was good practice to contribute to a project before baking it into a product. This was often the case for open source friendly vendors. But, it feels like AWS came along and never got that memo. I feel like AWS has done a lot more taking and productizing (aka making AWS a trillion-dollar, with a T, business) than contributing back to open source.
They keep shooting themselves in the foot as they take more and more projects into their bevy of services. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a tweet of a dev finding their code in the codebase of an AWS project without any credit being given, among other license violations. Someone at AWS said they’d look into it. But, consumption without credit incidents keeps happening (this wasn’t the first such incident I’d observed). There’s a culture problem, it seems. Then AWS hires a journalist to cover its open source work. I feel like that doesn’t help its case at all either. It acknowledges awareness of a problem. Pay for play is a negative thing in the radio business. It’s duplicitous at best in the tech industry.
I get it. AWS and others think forking Elastic’s code was inevitable and acceptable. Maybe? On a different timeline, with candor and goodwill sprinkled on it, this is never an issue because AWS would be submitting heaping helpings of PRs that Elastic would gladly accept. It gives them the same capabilities in their product that a hyperscale cloud provider has. AWS wouldn’t care because they rake in billions upon billions in profits every year. Sure they are technically assisting a competing product but, how many people using a non-AWS Elastic are also using higher-level AWS services? I imagine that’s a tiny overlap in a Venn diagram. AWS and Elastic cater to slightly different personas. AWS was the most prominent cloud six years ago and had enough market share and growth to stay that way. Instead of helping an open source project, they consumed it to make money. This gave birth to the bullshit SSPL license, and the rest is history. Major takeaway: open source isn’t a business model.
No one is right here, and customers pretty much get hosed on the software and services’ price anyway. Elastic makes its versions of ElasticSearch, LogStash, and Kibana. AWS makes a fork of the previously Apache-licensed code. Who wins here? Elastic and AWS. Developers don’t win because they potentially have to make up for deficiencies in one version or the other. I feel like this fork and SSPL drama could very well have been preventable. But, what do I know? I’ve just been around open source for most of my life. It all feels gross. Why? Because there’s more than enough for everyone to get a piece of the pie.
Note: I’m looking for an intern this summer to help with OpenShift.tv (live streaming). If you know anyone that may be interested, please ask them to apply. If they have questions, feel free to send them my way (Twitter DMs, Telegram). Please apply ASAP as I’m already reviewing resumes this weekend.
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