There are two extremes in the open source world: companies creating open-source and the ones that just use it. And in between, some companies contribute from time to time.
Let’s use Linux kernel development as an example: if you look at the contributor list you’ll see Redhat, IBM, Facebook, and many more. But those companies don’t control the project in this case, there is a foundation behind it. This is the ideal situation, when there is no company behind the project. Of course, each company pushes in their direction, but no one can change the project license.
On the other hand you have Mongo or Elastic, they created the project and control it. Their business model depends on the project, so to protect it they’ll do whatever is needed. There are plenty of examples of companies changing license terms to limit what other companies -basically large cloud services providers- can offer. Mongo, Elastic, Redis, Mapbox are recent examples.
We truly believe in open source. Ideally following the foundation way, but any piece of code that enables others to do things is welcome in our book. Open source is one of the things that make the world a better place: COVID vaccine scientists used spark for its development, Wikipedia uses Kafka (and runs entirely on open source software), OpenStreetMap uses Postgres and PostGIS.
In our previous companies, we based most of our products on open source technology but we often felt we weren’t contributing enough. Not just because you should feel the pressure to contribute if you are making money out of it; also because if you are contributing to it, it probably means you really understand how it works and therefore your product will be better.
Our service relies heavily on Clickhouse, the database Yandex published as open source a few years ago. It’s one of the best pieces of technology I’ve seen, the kind of software you get when you put the best minds to solve one hard problem.
We have been contributing to the database with some pull requests, but not as many as we would like. And even though we understand Clickhouse inside and out now, we feel that’s not enough. That’s why we have decided to hire developers to work on the open-source project full-time.
For a company of our size this means a long-term effort but we are pretty sure it will pay off in the short and medium-term. And not just for us but for everybody facing the same problems we are trying to solve.
If you are a C++ developer and like working on high-performance projects you’ll feel at home at Tinybird. Please take a look at the Clickhouse Developer job offer and consider applying.