Why AWS Supports Valkey

April 4, 2024 By Mark Otto 0

Less than a week after Redis Inc. announced it was removing the open source license and pulling out of the Redis project, Redis contributors banded together to move the community to The Linux Foundation as the Valkey project. They did this almost immediately after the license change announcement went live, in response to community outcry on GitHub and on social media, asking to fork the project or join an existing fork.

This reaction is not surprising — we’ve seen a similar response from other communities when their projects are relicensed. Open source developers and others invest significant time and resources in building the projects, as well as the products and services on top of them. They can’t just walk away.

It’s a mistake to undervalue the contributions of devoted users and contributors who helped make Redis and other open source technologies what they are today. When Redis was open source, the majority of commits may have come from Redis employees in recent years, but many other contributors added significant value to the project which should not be discounted — especially considering the degree to which Redis employees also decided which contributions to accept.

Redis broke with the community that helped it grow and left them stranded. This community is now unbound and will continue to use and contribute to the project as they have always done, and with more freedom. They want the project to be well-supported, available on their favorite Linux distribution or cloud instance, and free to use as they see fit. Keeping the project under the Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved BSD 3-clause license, helps the community ensure distribution and uninhibited use for Valkey.

By moving to the Linux Foundation, the community is reassuring individuals and companies that they can continue to participate in development without worry that the open source license will be revoked. The move also ensures that no single organization will have an outsized influence on the project. It is the foundation’s mission to provide an environment that supports the long-term health and viability of open source projects. Under an open governance model, the project will attract diverse contributors, innovate faster, and remain vibrant and more secure over the long term.

Open source Terraform now lives on as OpenTofu, issuing its first stable release in January as a vendor-neutral, community-led project. The project is undergoing rapid development on new features, attracting new contributors, and adoption is growing. This is our hope for the future of Valkey. There is a strong community behind Valkey that will continue to maintain and grow the project, according to the road map that’s already established by the project community. With support from corporate backers such as AWS, Google, Oracle, Ericsson, Snap, and others, the project is well on its way to its next release.

AWS contributes to, builds on Valkey

AWS is committed to supporting open source Valkey for the long term. We are adding Valkey support to our ElastiCache and MemoryDB managed database services, which are built on open source Redis and are compatible with open source Redis versions 7.0 and earlier. Our engineers will also continue contributing to the open source Valkey project to help keep it secure, add new features, and innovate. In the meantime, the license change does not impact existing or new applications for ElastiCache and MemoryDB and no change is required from AWS customers.

We have a large business interest in seeing the project succeed. We also have some experience bringing a community together to form a new project after their open source project’s license changed. When Elastic changed the Elasticsearch license in 2021, we took the steps necessary to ensure the project remained open and available for community contribution and use. The result was OpenSearch, an Apache 2.0-licensed project that has built a diverse contributor base and is now also taking steps toward open governance.

We’ve learned a lot from that experience, including the importance of getting involved and contributing upstream to the open source projects that we build on and that our customers depend on. We were there when the Redis community moved toward an open governance model four years ago, adding two new project maintainers, including Madelyn Olson, a principal engineer at AWS and a longtime contributor.

In the past four years, AWS has made hundreds of contributions to open source Redis including more support for fine-grained access controls, coordinated failovers to eliminate data loss and reduce downtime of planned failovers, and the initial work laying the foundation for TLS, a widely adopted security protocol designed to facilitate data privacy and security over the internet.

Redis is only one example of many projects that AWS contributes to significantly. Some other well-known examples include Apache Airflow, Apache Cassandra, Apache Flink, Apache Hudi, Apache Kafka, Apache Lucene, Containerd, Kubernetes, OpenJDK, OpenTelemetry, PostgreSQL, Project Jupyter, and Rust. See Behind the Scenes on AWS Contributions to Cloud Native Open Source Projects and Behind the Scenes on AWS Contributions to Open Source Databases for key contributions on a number of open source projects.

Because AWS is involved and is deeply committed, we understand the community history and know that a community-led effort is in the best interest of all Redis users and contributors, including our database customers.

Our ElastiCache and MemoryDB customers will continue to receive the world-class operational support that we provide for all of our open source managed services, and they will benefit from the innovation that happens when multiple stakeholders come together to collaborate on Valkey. Open source projects with more diverse contributors also innovate faster and remain healthier and more secure over the long term.

We are excited to contribute to The Linux Foundation’s Valkey project as one of many stakeholders. Please join us on GitHub to continue open source development on Valkey.