AWS Draws Criticism For Its Open Source Approach

Open Source

But is it justified? AWS may be the biggest cloud vendor, by a longshot, but has nowhere near the same standing in the open source community, particularly when compared to a company like Google.

This has drawn fire from some quarters, who believe that Amazon Web Services is not giving back as much as they have benefited from open source. Even though the company very recently become a platinum member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

And not to mention that AWS also actively contributes to Apache MXNet, with more than 40% of contributions from more than 400 developers to the project.

But critics seem to think that Amazon Web Services should be contributing to the good of the community, the good of the humanity, instead of its bank balance. Fair point, to an extent, but the picture is not as simple — it is not black and white.

The reality is that open source contributions are not selfless charities, but a virtuous intersection where the corporate, user, and community needs meet. They are always a way for the company to further interest in its product or service.

Take last week, as an example, where AWS teamed up with rival Microsoft to open source Gluon, a project that is designed to make it dramatically easier for developers to program neural networks.

Ultimately, the only big reason why Amazon Web Services has taken this decision is to ensure that projects like these become as good as they can possibly be, if users are going to run them on the AWS cloud platform.

AWS, as a commercial enterprise, needs to act in self-interest. It needs to naturally align its contributions to its economic interests, and those of its users, so that everyone can takes these open source projects forward.

This, ultimately, is true for pretty much every company that is investing in open source.

To believe otherwise is fallacy.