Elastic founder shoots back at AWS’ forking distro plan


Elastic founder Shay Bannon has launched an impassioned defence of his company’s open source credentials, a day after AWS launched its own Elasticsearch distro.

AWS partnered with Expedia and Netflix amongst others on Open Distro for Elasticsearch, insisting it was not a fork, but a “value-added distribution of Elasticsearch that is 100 per cent open source and supported by AWS” in response to the increasing amount of proprietary code in the Elasticsearch code base. Discussion with the vendor had led nowhere, AWS claimed.

However, Bannon took to his keyboard yesterday, insisting, “We believe in open source, and the power it brings. 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.”

Elastic had been a constant target for FUD, he claimed, which “mostly comes from large(r) companies that fear what such a movement can cause.”

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“”Don’t use the product, it is a toy.” “It only has a handful of developers, what happens if they get hit by a bus?” “They don’t know what “the enterprise” wants.” “They are not true X or Y or Z (insert your word of the day),” were typical claims, he wrote.

“It is done in order to distract us and our community from our main purpose, build great products and communities, that users love. We fail our users if we let it, and we will never fail you.

Repeated forkings, redistributing and rebundling, were “a sign of success and the reach our products have. From various vendors, to large Chinese entities, to now, Amazon. There was always a “reason”, at times masked with fake altruism or benevolence”.

But, he said darkly, “They were built to serve their own needs, drive confusion, and splinter the community.”

“Our commercial code has been an “inspiration” for others, it has been bluntly copied by various companies, and even found its way back to certain distributions or forks, like the freshly minted Amazon one, sadly, painfully, with critical bugs.”

He said companies had approached it numerous times asking for preferential treatment, “and only recently again, this time with Amazon.” Whilst some such approaches had worked out, “Others, sadly, didn’t follow through.” Presumably Amazon belongs in the latter category.

Amazon’s moves – and Elastic’s response – come at a sensitive time. In January, the online giant launched its own MongoDB-compatible database service, after the eponymous open source database vendor launched a new license – the server side public license – in a bid to force service providers offering a Mongo service to opensource the service source code.

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