Ali Baba barely blinks as it swallows Flink pioneers data Artisans

Ali Baba barely blinks as it swallows Flink pioneers data Artisans

Ali Baba appears to have taken control of data Artisans, the Berlin-based outfit behind the Apache Flink open source big data framework.

According to reports, Chinese mega bazar Ali Baba has paid $103m for the company, whose previous investment rounds totalled $7.5m, with Intel Capital, amongst others, pitching in.

Neither company mentioned that figure, or indeed the exact nature of their tie-up.

However, in a statement this morning, Flink co-founders Kostas Tzoumas and Stephan Ewen wrote, “We are excited about data Artisans joining forces with Alibaba, to build a new initiative around Big Data open source technologies, following a Series B financing round earlier last year.”

Jingren Zhou, Vice President, Alibaba Group, in a statement referred to a “strategic tie-in [which] will further strengthen the growth of the Flink community, accelerate the data-processing technologies and help bolster an open, collaborative and constructive environment for global developers who are passionate about stream processing and enabling real-time applications for modern enterprises.”

Tzoumas and Ewen said data Artisans – and their new masters – would continue to contribute to open source, and continue with its enterprise offerings, “just at an accelerated pace.” Alibaba has been one of the biggest contributors to and users of Flink.

“Especially at times when many open source technologies and companies decide on a less collaborative and more “closed” approach, it is with great pleasure to see Alibaba committed to open source and our mission, eager to take Flink’s technological advancement to the next level,” they said.

“Moving forward together, data Artisans and Alibaba will not only continue, but accelerate contributions to Apache Flink and open source Big Data. As a first step, Alibaba announced their commitment to contribute their in-house developments around Flink — Blink — to the open source community.”

Apache Flink is described as “a framework and distributed processing engine for stateful computations over unbounded and bounded data streams…designed to run in all common cluster environments, perform computations at in-memory speed and at any scale.”

The project’s page says users have reported using the framework in applications running on thousands of cores, running “multiple trillions of events per day” and maintaining “multiple terrabytes” of state.

It’s easy to see why this appeals to the sprawling Ali Baba. The company turned over $40bn last year, employs 93,000 people, and has its fingers in pies spanning “core commerce, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, and innovation initiatives.”