Amazon’s cloud computing division Amazon Web Services has been accused of stealing features from various open-source software projects.
Amazon’s cloud computing division Amazon Web Services generated $25 billion in sales last year and is Amazon’s most profitable business. New York Times published an article that criticized the company for integrating open-source software created by others into its offerings. In the article, the chief executive of the open-source database MariaDB, Michael Howard even went as far as to say that “A.W.S.’s success is built on strip-mining open-source technology”.
AWS added premium features to Elastic
According to New York Times article, in October 2015, Amazon’s cloud computing arm announced it was copying Elastic’s free software tool, called Elasticsearch. Within a year, Amazon was generating more money from what Elastic had built than the start-up. The division added premium features to Elastic last year and provided them free.
In September, Elastic sued Amazon in federal court in California for violating its trademark because Amazon had called its product by the same name: Elasticsearch. Amazon “misleads consumers,” the start-up said in its complaint. Amazon rejected it had done anything wrong. The case is pending.
“Strip-mining” open source is off-base
Vice president of AWS analytics and ElastiCache, Andi Gutmans wrote a blog post about the article, saying:
“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.”
“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. 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.”
Open source projects
AWS contributes to several open-source projects, including Linux, Java, Kubernetes, Xen, KVM, Chromium, Robot Operating System, Apache Lucene, Redis, s2n, FreeRTOS, and Elasticsearch.
New York Times said that several of AWS’s rivals have even discussed bringing antitrust complaints against the company. A shift in licensing terms from the firms that have provided open-source database technology in the past has occurred as a result of the success of cloud providers. Companies such as Elastic, MongoDB, and Redis have taken issue with how cloud providers repackage their open-source software for use on their platforms.
Gutmans underlined their point of view to open source projects, saying,
“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.”
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