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Why AWS, Google and Oracle support the Valkey Redis fork | TechCrunch

The Linux Foundation last week announced that he would welcome Valkey, a fork of the Redis in-memory data store. Valkey is supported by AWS, Google Cloud, Oracle, Ericsson and Snap.

AWS and Google Cloud rarely support an open source fork together. Yet when Redis Labs changed Redis far from the permissive 3-clause BSD license on March 20 and adopted the more restrictive Server-Side Public License (SSPL), a fork was always one of the most likely outcomes. At the time of the license change, Rowan Trollope, CEO of Redis Labs, said he “would not be surprised if Amazon sponsors a fork”, as the new license requires commercial agreements to offer Redis-as-a-service, which makes it incompatible with the standard definition of “open source”.

It’s worth taking a few steps back to see how we got to this point. After all, Redis is among the most popular data stores and is at the heart of many large commercial and open source deployments.

A Brief History of Redis

Throughout its life, Redis has experienced some licensing conflicts. Redis founder Salvatore Sanfilippo started the project in 2009 under the BSD license, partly because he wanted to be able to create a commercial fork at some point and also because “the BSD (license) allows many industries to competewith different licensing and development ideas,” he said in a recent Pirate News comment.

After Redis quickly gained popularity, Garantia became the first major Redis service provider. Garantia was renamed RedisDB in 2013, and Sanfilippo and the community fought back. After a while, Garantia finally changed its name to Redis Labs, then, to 2021in Redis.

Sanfilippo joined Redis Labs in 2015 and later transferred his IP address to Redis Labs/Redis, before resign from the company in 2020. This was only a few years after Redis changed the way it licenses its Redis modules, which include visualization tools, a client SDK and more. For these modules, Redis first opted for the Apache license with the addition Common property clause which prevents others from selling and hosting these modules. At the time, Redis said that despite this change to modules, “the open source Redis license has never been changed.” It’s BSD and it will always be BSD. This commitment lasted until a few weeks ago.

Redis’ Trollope reiterated in a statement what he told me when these changes were initially announced, highlighting how large cloud providers have taken advantage of the open source version and are free to enter into a commercial agreement with Redis .

“The major cloud service providers have all benefited commercially from the open source Redis project, so it is not surprising that they are launching a fork within a foundation,” he wrote. “Our licensing change allowed CSPs to establish fair licensing agreements with Redis Inc. Microsoft has already reached an agreement, and we are happy and open to creating similar relationships with AWS and GCP. We remain focused on our role as steward of the Redis project and our mission to invest in the available Redis source product, ecosystem, developer experience, and serving our customers. Innovation has been and always will be the differentiating factor between the success of Redis and any alternative solution.

Cloud providers support Valkey

However, the current reality is that major cloud providers, with the notable exception of Microsoft, have quickly rallied behind Valkey. This fork originated at AWS, where longtime Redis maintainer Madelyn Olson initially launched the project in her own GitHub account. Olson told me that when the news broke, many current Redis managers quickly decided it was time to move on. “When the news broke, everyone was like, ‘Well, we’re not going to contribute to this new license,’ and as soon as I talked to everyone, ‘Hey, I have this Fork, we’re trying to keep the old group together,” she said. “Almost everyone was like, ‘Yeah, I’m on board immediately.’

The original Redis private channel included five maintainers: three from Redis, Olson, and Alibaba. Zhao Zhao, as well as a small group of committers who also immediately signed on to what is now Valkey. Unsurprisingly, Redis maintainers didn’t sign on, but as David Nally, AWS’ director of open source strategy and marketing, told me, the Valkey community would welcome them with open arms.

Olson noted that she always knew this change was a possibility and well within the rights of the BSD license. “I’m more just disappointed than anything else. (Redis) has been a good manager in the past, and I think the community is pretty disappointed with the change.

Nally noted that “from AWS’s perspective, this probably wouldn’t have been the choice we wanted to see at Redis Inc.” But he also acknowledged that Redis had every right to make this change. When asked if AWS had considered purchasing a license from Redis, he gave a diplomatic response and noted that AWS “considered a lot of things” and nothing was off the table in making the decision. team decision.

“It is certainly their prerogative to make such a decision,” he said. “While we have, as a result, made further decisions about where we will focus our energy and time, Redis remains an important partner and customer, and we share a large number of customers between us. So we hope they succeed. But from an open source perspective, we are now committed to the success of Valkey.

It’s not often that a fork comes together so quickly and is able to garner support from so many companies under the auspices of the Linux Foundation (LF). This is something that previous Redis forks like KeyDB didn’t have going for them. But it turns out that this is partly due to chance. Redis’ announcement comes in the middle of the European version of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s KubeCon conference, which was held in Paris this year. There, Nally met with FL Executive Director Jim Zemlin.

“It ruined KubeCon for me, because suddenly I found myself in a lot of conversations about how we were responding,” he said. “(Zemlin) had some concerns and suggested the Linux Foundation as a potential home. So we began the process of introducing Madelyn (Olson) and the rest of the maintainers to the Linux Foundation, just to see if they thought it would be a compatible move.

And after?

The Valkey team is working on releasing a compatibility release that provides current Redis users with a transition path. The community is also working on an improved shared clustering system, improved multithreaded performance and much more.

With all of this, Redis and Valkey are unlikely to remain aligned in capabilities for long, and Valkey may not remain an immediate replacement for Redis in the long term. One of the areas that Redis (the company) is investing in is going beyond memory to also use flash storage, with RAM as a large high-performance cache. That is why Redis recently acquired Speedb. Olson noted that there are no concrete plans yet for similar capabilities in Valkey, but he didn’t rule it out either.

“There’s a lot of excitement right now,” Olson said. “I think previously we were a little conservative technologically and tried to make sure we didn’t break things. Whereas now, I think there’s a lot of interest in building a lot of new things. We still want to make sure we don’t break things, but there’s a lot more interest in updating technologies and trying to make everything faster, better, and more memory dense. (…) I think this is a bit like what happens during a change of guard, because a group of former leaders are no longer there.

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