Amazon’s Elasticsearch fork OpenSearch hits prime time

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Amazon has launched the first production-ready version of its Elasticsearch “fork” OpenSearch. This follows six months after Amazon’s AWS first revealed plans to fork Elasticsearch, the Java-based open source search and analytics engine for large volumes of data, alongside the associated Kibana dashboard for visualizing Elasticsearch data.

Companies typically use Elasticsearch for software that relies on the access and retrieval of data or documents, analyzing log data, security analysis, and more.  The genesis for Amazon’s big fork came back in January when Elastic, the commercial company behind both Elasticsearch and Kibana, confirmed it was transitioning from a permissive Apache License to a dual source-available Server Side Public License (SSPL) and a proprietary Elastic License. The company said at the time that its motive was to prevent cloud service providers — e.g. AWS — from offering Elasticsearch as a service themselves without collaborating on the project. Taking without giving back, was the gist of its complaint.

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Forked off

“Forking” is often deemed the only way forward for an open source project when two (or more) entities develop different priorities. The process involves taking the original source code and splitting it into a separate project that’s maintained by different people (e.g. in-house Amazon developers) in tandem to the original project. The long and short of all this is that Amazon’s fork is now the official open source project available under an Apache 2.0 license, while the original Elasticsearch is now classed as proprietary software, though Elastic refers to its software as “free and open“.

While Amazon first released OpenSearch back in April, it was technically still in “alpha,” meaning that it wasn’t fully tested and wasn’t recommended for production use. With version 1.0, which is available on GitHub now, OpenSearch is now ready for prime-time in production environments. And Amazon is keen to remind people that OpenSearch is very much open source.

“We encourage anyone to use, modify, extend, embed, monetize, resell, and offer OpenSearch as part of their products and services,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Broad adoption benefits the entire community.”

Today’s announcement comes a week after Amazon revealed it was transitioning its cross-platform game engine Lumberyard to an open source license, five years after making it available as a source available project. As some have pointed out, this indicated that Amazon struggled to lure game developers to Lumberyard in its former guise as they were required to use Amazon’s AWS cloud service for hosting.

Developers, it seems, don’t like restrictions on how they use software. Who knew?


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