Why AWS, Google and Oracle are supporting the Valkey Redis fork | Tech Crunch

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The Linux Foundation announced last week that it will host 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 offer an open source fork together. However, when Redis Labs moved away from the 3-clause BSD license that allowed Redis on March 20th 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, Redis Labs CEO Rowan Trollope said he “wouldn't be surprised if Amazon sponsored a fork” because the new license required commercial agreements to provide Redis-aa-service, which it wasn't compatible with. Standard definition of “open source”.

It's worth taking a few steps back to see how we got to this point. Redis is, after all, one of the most popular data stores and the core of many large commercial and open-source deployments.

A brief history of Redis

During its lifetime, Redis has actually seen some licensing disputes. Redis founder Salvatore Sanfilippo started the project under the BSD license in 2009 because he wanted to create a commercial fork at some point and said “BSD (license) allows many branches to compete with different licensing and development. Ideas,” he said in a recent Hacker News comment.

After Redis quickly gained popularity, Garantia became the first major Redis service provider. Garantia rebranded to RedisDB in 2013, and Sanfilippo and the community pushed back. After some time, Garantia changed its name to Redis Labs and became Redis in 2021.

Sanfilippo joined Redis Labs in 2015 and transferred his IP to Redis Labs/Redis before leaving the company in 2020. A few years after Redis changed how it licenses its Redis modules it has Visualization Tools, a client. SDK and more. For those modules, Redis first restricts others from selling and hosting these modules with a commons clause attached to the Apache license. At the time, despite this change for Redis modules, “the license for open source Redis was never changed. It's BSD and will always be BSD. That commitment continued until a few weeks ago.

Redis' Trollope reiterated in a statement what he told me when he first announced these changes, how big cloud vendors benefit from the open source version and are free to enter into commercial agreements with Redis.

“The major cloud service providers have all benefited commercially from the Redis open source project so it's no surprise that they launched a fork on the foundation,” he wrote. “Our licensing change opens the door for CSPs to enter into fair licensing agreements with Redis Inc. Microsoft has already reached an agreement and we are happy and ready to create similar relationships with AWS and GCP. We are focused on our role as stewards of the Redis project, and our goal is to invest in the Redis source available product, ecosystem, developer experience, and service to our customers. Innovation is and always will be the difference between the success of Redis and any alternative solution.

Cloud vendors support Walkie

However, the current reality is that the big cloud vendors, with the exception of Microsoft, have quickly rallied behind Walky. This fork originated at AWS, where longtime Redis maintainer Madelyn Olson started the project on her own GitHub account. When Olson told me the news, many of the current Redis maintainers quickly decided it was time to move on. “When the news broke, everybody was like, 'Well, we're not going to contribute to this new license,' and as soon as I talked to everybody, they were like, 'Hey, I have this fork — we're trying to keep the old group together,'” she said. “Pretty much everybody. , 'Yeah, I got on board right away.”

The original Redis private channel had five maintainers: three from Redis, Olson, and Alibaba's Zhao Zhao, as well as a small group of committers who immediately signed on to what is now Walky. Maintainers from Redis surprisingly haven't signed on, but as David Nally, AWS's director of open source strategy and marketing, told me, the Walky community welcomes them with open arms.

Olson stated that he always knew that this change would be subject to the rights associated with the BSD license. “I'm more disappointed than anything. (Redis) has been a good steward in the past, and I think the community is kind of disappointed in this change.

“From an AWS perspective, this is probably not an option we want to see from Redis Inc,” Nally noted. But he also admits that Redis is well within its rights to make this change. When asked if AWS had considered buying a license from Redis, he gave a diplomatic answer and stated that AWS had “considered a lot of things” and nothing was in the team's decision making.

“It is certainly their prerogative to make such a decision,” he said. “While we, as a result, have made some other decisions about where we're going to focus our energy and our time, Redis remains an important partner and customer, and we share a large number of customers between us. So we expect them to be successful. But from an open source perspective, we now We are invested in ensuring Valky's success.

It's not often that a fork comes together so quickly and gathers the support of so many companies under the auspices of the Linux Foundation (LF). Something previous Redis forks like KeyDB didn't go for. However, some of this also turns out to be random timing. The Redis announcement came in the middle of the European version of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation's KubeCon conference in Paris this year. There, Nally met with Jim Zemlin, executive director of LF.

“It ruined KubeCon for me, because all of a sudden, I ended up in a lot of conversations about how we were going to respond,” he said. “(Zemlin) had some concerns and volunteered the Linux Foundation as a potential home. So we started the process of introducing Madelyn (Olson) and the rest of the administrators to the Linux Foundation to see if they thought it would be a good move.

What next?

The Valkey team is working to get a compatibility release that provides a transition path for existing Redis users. The community is also working on a better shared clustering system, better multi-threaded performance and more.

With all that said, Redis and Walky are unlikely to align in their capabilities for long, and Walky may not be a drop-in Redis replacement in the long run. One area Redis (the company) is investing in is moving beyond in-memory to using flash storage, RAM as a large, high-performance cache. That's why Redis recently acquired SpeedB. Olson noted that there are no concrete plans yet for similar capabilities on the Walkie, but didn't rule it out either.

“There's a lot of excitement right now,” Olson said. “I think earlier we were a bit technically conservative and trying to make sure we didn't break stuff. But 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, more performance, more memory. (…) I think that happens when there is a changing of the guard because the previous group of maintainers are basically not there anymore.



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