HashiCorp plans to make much of the company’s open-source software only available for business customers. Once again, a player in the open source community is moving away from “real” open source.
HashiCorp offers some products that are very popular among cloud developers. The company is particularly popular in the open-source community because many of its products are available under a Mozilla Public License 2.0. Yet the company is now committing treason in the eyes of the open-source community. This is because the company announced earlier that it will focus on commercial users, and, as a result, much of its software is disappearing behind a paywall.
Red Hat sets the tone
HashiCorp’s move comes at a time when the open-source community is already not so lenient. Red Hat only recently ended public open-source access to its own Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The result was a wave of criticism from the open-source community and companies.
After several responses accusing IBM of killing the competition and expressive messages about commitments to the open-source community, SUSE’s message followed that it was going to fork RHEL. That is a term familiar to software developers and means that SUSE is starting a new and independent project based on RHEL’s source code. According to the company, this is the only solution to defend the values of the open-source community.
Despite public criticism, Red Hat’s move appears to have been a source of inspiration for HashiCorp. It is possible that the company hoped to disappear into the noise Red Hat is creating.
Is open-source changing as a term?
Or perhaps it is a sign that the term open-source is under discussion and may be getting a different meaning. According to HashiCorp, there is indeed the need to rethink what the open-source community is: “There are other vendors who profit from pure OSS models, and the community works on OSS projects for their own commercial purposes, without making material contributions back. We do not believe this is in the spirit of open source.”
“As a result, we believe that commercial open-source models must evolve if the ecosystem is to continue to provide open, freely available software. Open source has lowered the barrier to copying and selling innovation through existing distribution channels. Many vendors have increasingly moved to closed-source for this reason, but we did not feel that this would preserve our original goals in adopting open source,” the company continued.
Partners and users see it differently
HashiCorp’s announcement also received a great deal of criticism from partners and users of the software. There is a perception that the company is turning its back on the open-source community.
As with Red Hat, there are already plans to fork the code of the HashiCorp product Terraform. 300 of the company’s partners are committed to this project under the group Open Terraform.
The announcements shaken things up in the open-source community, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what the future will hold for Red Hat and HashiCorp now that their focus is on paying customers. Despite the storm, evolution can also hold a bright future. MongoDB is a good example of that, as it grew into a company worth billions.
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