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HashiCorp’s “poison pill” shift away from open source triggers call for Terraform foundation

Now over 300 companies and individuals are calling for HashiCorp to reverse its decision or see Terraform forked and the community decamp...

HashiCorp is following a well-trodden trail of abandoning open source for the more restrictive Business Source License (BSL) 1.1. That means tighter rules around the use of its suite of products including Terraform – a widely used software toolkit for provisioning infrastructure at scale.

The HashiCorp licence decision, announced August 10, was blamed by CTO Armon Dadgar on the trope of “other vendors who take advantage of pure OSS models, and the community work on OSS projects, for their own commercial goals, without providing material contributions back.”

Now over 300 companies and individuals say the move is a “poison pill” for Terraform and are calling for HashiCorp to reverse that decision.

If it does not, they say, they will fork Terraform and maintain that fork as a foundation; much as Linux and Kubernetes are managed by the Linux Foundation and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation respectively – a move one founder described as akin to a “civil war.”

open source terraform is critical say over 300 in the OpenTF Manifesto
The Terraform fork debate may swing on how hyperscalers respond

Terraform is a widely used Infrastructure-as-Code tool used to automate the provisioning of cloud or on-premises infrastructure and re-provision it in response to configuration changes. It has a large enterprise user base and has become something of a community asset: It lets users set up infrastructure at different levels and automate the management of it, like AWS resources with Kubernetes on top of them and then services running inside that Kubernetes cluster. This requires extensive integrations; many of which have been nurtured by an open source community.

As HashiCorp’s CTO explicitly told The Stack earlier in 2023, Terraform’s breadth of integrations is thanks in large part to open source: “The power of that open source community is that it's going and solving that integration problem in a way that no proprietary vendor would really realistically be able to do, the surface area is just too large.”

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