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Amazon Takes Aim at Open Source with Elasticsearch Distribution

By Sean Michael Kerner     Feedback

The open source enterprise application space is in a state of transition as established projects face off cloud giants.

In recent months, there has been a brewing conflict between large cloud providers (principally Amazon) and various open source enterprise application vendors.

The application vendors have argued that Amazon and other large cloud providers are benefiting substantially from open source software without properly contributing back, either in terms of code or financial contribution. With open source software, the code is open and available for use by anyone.

What some vendors, notably Redis, have started to do is launch new licenses for their software that restrict usage by cloud providers without payment.

"Unfortunately, we are seeing other examples where open source maintainers are muddying the waters between the open source community and the proprietary code they create to monetize the open source," Adrian Cockcroft, VP Cloud Architecture Strategy at Amazon Web Services (AWS) wrote in a blog.

In an effort to help protect itself from such practices, while still making sure that it is contributing to open source, Amazon announced the Open Distro for Elasticsearch on March 11. Elasticsearch is a widely used data analytics platform

According to Cockcroft, there has been some confusion with Elasticsearch over the past year with a mix of proprietary code and open source code, making it unclear to end users and organizations what is and isn't open source. To that end, AWS together with Expedia Group and Netflix have created a new open source distribution of Elasticsearch named “Open Distro for Elasticsearch.”

"Open Distro for Elasticsearch is a value-added distribution that is 100 percent open source, which will be focused on driving innovation with value-added features to ensure users have a feature-rich option that is fully open source," Cockcroft said.

Elasticsearch founder Shay Banon however has a different view.

"We believe in open source, and the power it brings," Banon wrote. "We also communicated from the start that some features will be commercial, and why. Our honesty, I believe, is a big reason for our shared success. "

Other industry experts including Paul Dix — creator of the time-series database and founder/CTO of InfluxData are similiarly skeptical of AWS' intentions with the Open Distro for Elasticsearch.

"AWS is taking advantage of its market leader position in hosted infrastructure and services to expand its footprint into additional hosted services (Elasticsearch)," Dix wrote. " They’re using profits from that leadership position to invest in building free software, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t be viable. If you look at this in combination with their existing customer base and things like IAM, this is a monopolistic move."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseAppsToday and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

This article was originally published on March 27, 2019
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