Elastic keeps ticking

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Open source isn’t supposed to work like this. Like Elasticsearch, that is. A few years ago AWS called out Elastic for shifting away from Elasticsearch’s Apache-style permissive licensing to “some rights reserved” licensing. By early 2021, Elastic went farther down its licensing path, and AWS responded by forking Elasticsearch, resulting in OpenSearch.

Along the way, OpenSearch has picked up some open source adherents such as Instaclustr and Aiven, which have both built managed services for OpenSearch. Meanwhile, a chorus of industry voices beyond AWS has criticized Elastic for how it has handled licensing (see this tweet and this one).

But here’s the thing: For all the sound and fury, Elastic, the company, seems to be doing quite well. Elasticsearch, the code, doesn’t seem to be struggling, either. As I pointed out recently with serverless, sometimes we imagine a developer’s choices are strictly binary: open or closed. But as the Elasticsearch example suggests, developers aren’t nearly so simpleminded.

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