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Setting the record straight on AWS and open source

By Andi Gutmans, AWS

December 17, 2019

This New York Times article is skewed and misleading. The reporter had a story he wanted to write and didn’t let the facts get in the way of his story. He ignored most of what we shared with him, left out many of the positive partner comments various partners shared with him, and conflated various software terms.

First, AWS has a very large, vibrant, successful partner community that has achieved significant additional success building on top of AWS and selling in the popular AWS Marketplace. Close partnerships with companies like Acquia, Adobe, Datadog, Databricks, Infor, Informatica, New Relic, PagerDuty, Salesforce, Splunk, VMware, and Workday are a few of the many examples. We’re passionate about our partners and have very strong relationships with the vast majority of them. The journalist largely ignores the many positive comments he got from partners because it’s not as salacious copy for him.

Second, the story is largely talking about open source software projects and companies who’ve tried to build businesses around commercializing that open source software. These open source projects enable any company to utilize this software on-premises or in the cloud, and build services around it. AWS customers have repeatedly asked AWS to build managed services around open source. As we shared with the author, the argument that AWS is “strip-mining” open source is silly and off-base. AWS contributes mightily to open source projects such as Linux, Java, Kubernetes, Xen, KVM, Chromium, Robot Operating System, Apache Lucene, Redis, s2n, FreeRTOS, AWS Amplify, Apache MXNet, AWS SageMaker NEO, Firecracker, the OpenJDK with Corretto, Elasticsearch, and Open Distro for Elasticsearch. AWS has not copied anybody’s software or services.

Further, the author conveniently leaves out the crux of the issue with respect to Elasticsearch and open source. Customers use open source because it’s supposed to be open, available to run anywhere, and easily used on-premises and in the cloud with whichever providers customers choose to use in these environments. Customers have repeatedly told us that they want AWS to offer managed services for Elasticsearch and other popular open source projects. A number of maintainers of open source projects build commercial companies around the open source project. A small set of outliers see it as a zero-sum game and want to be the only ones able to freely monetize managed services around these open source projects. As such, they have gone back and altered the open source licensing terms, co-mingled truly open source with proprietary code, and tried to make it hard for customers to use other providers’ managed services in the cloud. This is not customer-focused, not what customers want, and not why customers started using the open source project in the first place. We are committed to making sure that open source projects remain truly open and customers get to choose how they use that open source software – whether they choose AWS or not.

We aren’t alone. We’ve heard from customers and analysts who disagree with the piece and there are threads on social media like this and this and this.

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