Google challenges AWS with open-source support

By furthering its open-source company friendships, Google is making it clear they're much more open-source friendly than Amazon Web Services.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

At the Google Cloud Next conference Google announced new and expanded partnerships with several open-source businesses. Interesting, several of these have changed their licenses in no small part because they felt Amazon Web Services (AWS) was strip-mining their code.

These partners are MongoDB, Confluent, DataStax, Elastic, InfluxData, Neo4j, and Redis Labs. These new partnerships offer Google Cloud customers managed database services with efforts made to optimize performance and latency between the service and application. Customers will get a unified user interface for app management.

With this users get the power to provision and manage the service from the Google Cloud Console. When you run into trouble, you'll be able to manage and log support tickets in a single window in the Console. You'll also get unified billing, with one invoice from Google Cloud, which includes the partner's service.

According to Google's director of open source, Chris DiBona:

We've always seen our friends in the open-source community as equal collaborators, and not simply a resource to be mined. With that in mind, we'll be offering managed services operated by these partners that are tightly integrated into Google Cloud Platform (GCP), providing a seamless user experience across management, billing and support. This makes it easier for our enterprise customers to build on open-source technologies, and it delivers on our commitment to continually support and grow these open-source communities.

Why does Google do this? Because the open-source method makes good, hard business sense. As DiBona told Matt Asay on TechRepublic, these aren't "some sort of generous magical deal," but rather simply a matter of "giving customers what they want."

Although DiBona doesn't come right out and say it, that line about open source "not simply a resource to be mined" makes it clear that Google is presenting its friendly relations with open-source companies as a real value-add over AWS's more hostile relationship with the open-source community.

These particular companies, though, have been backing away from open-source licenses. They may have one foot still in open source, but many developers don't consider them truly open source anymore. That said, they're not too worried about it. As Asay pointed out in another story, companies like MongoDB are laughing all the way to the bank despite AWS or what some in the open-source community think of their new approach.

Outside observers, like Mike Milinkovich. Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation, tweeted, "I think that this is a smart, differentiating move for Google. Amazon can be the strip mining bad guy in this narrative." That said, he continued, "However, I also think that conflating the health of open source with the health of six VC-backed, for-profit companies is simply bogus."

As for Google cloud customers, they may not care about the AWS rivalries or open-source licensing issues. Instead I suspect they'll be just fine with DiBona's conclusion: "Partnering with the companies that invest in developing open-source technologies means you get benefits like expertise in operating these services at scale, additional enterprise features, and shorter cycles in bringing the latest innovation to the cloud."

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