OpenSearch: AWS rolls out its open source Elasticsearch fork

After Elastic decided to relicense Elasticsearch under the non-open source Server Side Public License, Amazon Web Services open sourced the old code into its own fork, OpenSearch.

cloud computing

Image: Arkadiusz Warguła/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The battle between public cloud providers and venture capital-sponsored "open source" companies has taken an interesting new turn. When Elastic, makers of the open source search and analytic engine Elasticsearch, went after Amazon Web Services (AWS) by changing its license from the open source Apache 2.0-license ALv2) to the non-open source friendly Server Side Public License (SSPL), AWS responded by forking both Elasticsearch and its companion data visualization dashboard Kibana under ALv2. Today, the first code release of OpenSearch, a community-driven, open source fork of Elasticsearch and Kibana, is available.

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You can get the Elasticsearch fork, OpenSearch, and Kibana fork, OpenSearch Dashboards, from GitHub. OpenSearch is based on Elasticsearch 7.10.2 while OpenSearch Dashboards springs from Kibana 7.10.2. This is, in no way, shape or form, an attempt to "AWS" Elasticsearch or the Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana (ELK) stack. As AWS explained in the blog post announcing the code launch:

"We welcome individuals and organizations who are users of Elasticsearch, as well as those who are building products and services based on Elasticsearch. Our goal with the OpenSearch project is to make it easy for as many people and organizations as possible to use OpenSearch in their business, their products, and their projects. Whether you are an independent developer, an enterprise IT department, a software vendor or a managed service provider, the ALv2 license grants you well-understood usage rights for OpenSearch. You can use, modify, extend, embed, monetize, resell and offer OpenSearch as part of your products and services. We have also published permissive usage guidelines for the OpenSearch trademark, so you can use the name to promote your offerings. Broad adoption benefits all members of the community."

This is also not just an AWS show. Red Hat, SAP, Capital One and Logz.io are all on board as well. In a blog post, Logz.io CEO Tomer Levi, said, "Since the change of license, we've been working closely with the AWS engineering teams to help define the necessary changes to the code base along with assisting in leading the new project planning. At Logz.io, we felt that a community-driven, open source approach will be the true enabler for future Elasticsearch and Kibana innovation."

The move seems popular. On Twitter, Adam Jacob, CEO of the startup System Initiative and cofounder of Chef, tweeted, "This is good for everyone (except maybe Elastic, but they brought it on themselves). Good on AWS for forking, for taking out a greenfield trademark and collaborating openly with others. Long live OpenSearch."

Of course, AWS hopes to do well from the fork, too. AWS will be renaming its Amazon Elasticsearch Service to Amazon OpenSearch Service. While the name will change, the services, operations, development methodology and business use won't. The company also promises a seamless upgrade path from existing Elasticsearch 6.x and 7.x managed clusters to OpenSearch. Its new Amazon OpenSearch Service APIs will also remain backward compatible with the existing service APIs. In other words, you should be able to move to OpenSearch from Elasticsearch without any fuss or muss.

In addition, Amazon OpenSearch Service will offer a choice of open source engines. If you want to stick with the currently available ALv2 Elasticsearch (7.9 and earlier), or the forthcoming 7.10 version, you can do that. AWS also promises it will continue to support and maintain the open source Elasticsearch versions with security and bug fixes.

However, don't get too excited yet. This is alpha code. AWS states it's "Not complete, not thoroughly tested and not suitable for production use." Let me re-emphasize that last point: It is not ready for production use. There will be a beta in the next few weeks, AWS expects it to be stable and ready for production by mid-2021, at the latest.

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By Steven Vaughan-Nichols

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; an...