Open source companies are thriving in the cloud

Quick, can you spot the common link between MongoDB, DataStax, Redis Labs, Percona, Couchbase, and EnterpriseDB? If you said, “They’re all open source database vendors,” you’d be mostly correct. (Not all offer databases governed by an open source license.)

But if you said, “Each offers an increasingly popular database-as-a-service cloud offering,” you’d be spot on. Indeed, while we’ve spent a few years with erstwhile open source vendors changing their licenses to ward off evil cloud vendors, what we’re starting to see is these same vendors embracing the cloud, and to hugely positive effect.

Hence, while Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi has correctly argued that “it’s extremely hard to manage and run a high quality managed service in the cloud and not all open source companies are good at it,” it’s also true that more companies are figuring this out, making the next decade the era of open source databases in the cloud.

Signs, signs, everywhere the signs

Already we’re seeing clear indicators that open source is leaving behind its on-premises roots and heading to the cloud. A recent Red Hat survey found that 95 percent of respondents view open source as important, with use of proprietary software declining to 42 percent (from 55 percent the year before). And while it may be too soon to call it a trend, 28 percent of respondents called out “Designed to work in the cloud” as a key benefit of using modern open source tooling (like Kubernetes), the fourth-most cited benefit (up from eighth place last year).

Meanwhile, as more applications are born in the cloud, cloud databases have been booming. When I first started writing about this in earnest, “cloud database” mostly referred to databases offered by AWS, Microsoft, and Google. Quite quickly enterprises figured out that rather than having one massive Oracle database to run their diverse workloads, they could instead leverage a broader array of databases, with cloud databases increasingly central to their selections.

So much so, in fact, that in mid-2019 Gartner was ready to declare that “cloud is now the default platform for managing data” and that “only legacy compatibility or special requirements should keep you on-premises.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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