Amazon’s open source aspirations and actions

I stayed up last night to watch Amazon’s Tuesday night keynote for AWS re:Invent. Lemme tell you, I am not at all sad to be missing the crowds at re:Invent, and kudos to Amazon for its high-quality production values for the keynotes.

One of the things that really interested me, but wasn’t deeply explored, was the mention of Amazon’s home-grown KVM hypervisor and its Nitro setup, where it offloads networking, management, and storage to separate hardware and gives instances all the resources on the machine. (This is going by Peter DeSantis’ description and my following along with the keynote past midnight, so…)

Later in the keynote session when they brought Netflix on, they made some noises about open source and talked about their TLS implementation s2n. Haven’t dove deeply into s2n, but it sounds like they’re doing the right thing with this project, and a strong encryption alternative that has deep-pocket backing is not a bad thing at all.

But what struck me is the dichotomy of talking about open source and its importance for s2n, but glossing over completely their modifications or plans for KVM as a project. There’s a huge KVM community and I’m sure that they’d love to have Amazon participating actively. As far as I know, though, this isn’t happening.

Amazon has made moves to start an open source office and is doing more work in open source, but there’s a huge deficit between what Amazon builds off of open source and what it contributes back. If the company is serious about open source, it has an opportunity to make an enormous impact. I just hope the plan isn’t to limit its contributions to fringe or non-crucial projects and keep vital projects like Nitro/KVM behind closed doors away from the rest of the industry.

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