Cloudera: Our Commitment to Open Source Software

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Open source has been core to the missions of both Hortonworks and Cloudera and central to our values and culture. With more than 700 engineers in the new Cloudera, our company writes a prodigious amount of open source code each year that's contributed to more than 30 different open source projects.  We're also a very innovative open source company, having collectively launched more than a dozen new open source projects since the founding of the two companies.  

Prior to the merger, the two companies distributed their products under somewhat different open source licensing models.  Aligning the two models was one of the last items on our merger to-do list. Meanwhile over the past few years, we’ve seen many of our industry peers revise their open source licensing strategies and/or their relationship with the Apache Software Foundation, generating questions of if we’re planning to revise our approach as well.

In this blog post, we are sharing our new open source licensing model, which aligns the licensing models previously used by each of Hortonworks and Cloudera and also introduces some new changes.  We take our open source leadership role seriously, and recognize that our need to align our own licenses is also an opportunity to lead and to renew our commitment to open source software.

Open source goals
Aligning our open source licensing strategy and business model was a community process as well.  We consulted with our customers, industry experts, lawyers, peer companies and employees before finalizing our path forward.  These discussions reinforced many of our open source goals:
1. Freedom from vendor lock-in.  Customers are entrusting their most valuable asset (their data) to our data management platform. They want to pay their platform vendor for added value, not out of fear of the cost of switching.
2. Community standards, not Cloudera standards.  Cloudera has developed many open source projects that have gone on to become industry standards, but no one company can be the sole source of innovation.  By investing in open source projects such as Spark, Kubernetes and Kafka, we keep our customers on a sustainable long-term architecture vs. pulling them onto an island of Cloudera-only developed tools.
3. Open ecosystem.  Our platform is open to a wide range of tools, application and infrastructure providers.  We maintain open, backward-compatible API’s for our partner ecosystem and do so even when the ecosystem competes with part of our product.

Updated open source licensing model
Taking these goals into account, we’ve arrived at a new, aligned open source licensing model that we plan to roll out in the coming months.  Our updated open source licensing model will be:
1. Over the course of the next 6 months, we plan to consolidate and transition the small number of projects currently licensed by Cloudera under closed source licenses to open source licenses.  For example, components such as Cloudera Manager, Cloudera Navigator, and Cloudera Data Science Workbench will all eventually be available under an open source license.
2. All of our open source licenses will adhere to one of two OSI approved licenses: the Apache License, Version 2, or the GNU Affero General Public License, Version 3 (“AGPL”).  We considered a modified open source license, but determined that it was important that we use community-accepted licenses.
3. All of the open source projects that we contribute to that are hosted by the Apache Software Foundation (“ASF”) will continue to be ASF governed projects.   Furthermore, we will continue to contribute our enhancements and fixes to those projects upstream first, as both companies have since their founding.
4. Customers and developers will be able to access our products with a subscription agreement with Cloudera.  We will have free (unsupported) subscription agreements for developers and for trials, and we will have paid subscriptions for commercial customers.  The subscription agreement will cover the terms of support and maintenance, as well as access to the latest updates and security patches. In this way, we will align Cloudera’s open source strategy as closely as possible with the market leading open source strategy developed by Red Hat and accepted globally by thousands of businesses .
5. We plan to enact the license changes for all new releases moving forward including HDP, CDH and the upcoming Cloudera Data Platform (“CDP”).  In this way, we can treat customers equally regardless of which platform version they plan to use. We plan to make the software distribution changes across all releases and versions.

Starting in September 2019, we’ll roll out our updated subscription agreement and software distribution model.  Between September 2019 and January 2020, we’ll establish the new open source projects for formerly closed source components and begin licensing them under the AGPL.
You can learn more about the details of our plans with this handy FAQ

Charles Zedlewski & Arun Murthy