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AWS, Google, Oracle back Redis fork “Valkey” under the Linux Foundation

"Valkey will be community-driven without surprise license changes that break trust and disrupt a level open source playing field" says the Linux Foundation.

redis fork valkey linux foundation

Not so very long ago AWS was being castigated for open source “strip mining” and Oracle for squeezing Java users until their pips squeaked.

How the times have changed (on the surface: discuss). Together with Google Cloud the two have now thrown their considerable weight behind a Redis fork, Valkey, that will be overseen by the Linux Foundation and licensed under a Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) 3-clause licence.

The move comes after Redis moved away from open source for its ubiquitous in-memory, NoSQL data store – ditching the open-source BSD licence in favour of the significantly more restrictive SSPL licence; following in the wake of the likes of Elastic, MongoDB and Hashicorp.

The move means developers who have built OSS Redis into their products will now need to either a) pin that version of Redis – i.e. not update to forthcoming versions, b) likely make their own products SSPL-licenced, or c) replace it with an alternative like Valkey, or other alternatives.

That triggered an immediate fork led by maintainers AWS’s Madelyn Olson and Alibaba Cloud’s Zhou Zhou among others that was given a placeholder name of placeholderkv. That project is now becoming Valkey.

“Valkey is…built by long standing Redis contributors and maintainers… having this project in the hands of a foundation, rather than a single company, means Valkey will be community-driven without surprise license changes that break trust and disrupt a level open source playing field," said Chris Aniszczyk, CTO, The Linux Foundation on March 27.

“It is nice to see a strong community forming so quickly around Valkey. 

“Continuing to have a well maintained and innovative option for those who prefer open source will serve the community well. We look forward to supporting the open source community on this next phase of its journey,” added Andi Gutmans, VP Engineering, Databases, Google Cloud.

"As far as I'm concerned, Redis has been renamed to Valkey, while Redis Ltd. has created a non-free fork and confusingly named it 'Redis'", suggested one computer scientist, Colin Percival of the FreeBSD project.

Not everyone agrees: "You 'spirit of open source is the people' folks need to realize this fork is driven by a federation of corporate interests.

£They're looking to make money. They still don't care about you," developer Kevin Swiber posted on X. (Redis, like others before it, has lamented that hyperscalers have been repackaging OSS into proprietary services for profit without giving enough back. Aware of the damage this characterisation was doing to its reputation in the developer community, AWS in particular has ramped up its OSS engagement in recent years...)

Ericsson, and Snap Inc. are also joining Valkey.

MongoDB and Elastic both shifted to the SSPL without too much immediate damage to their businesses, but are very different businesses with very different contexts. Hashicorp’s recent shift to a BSL licence also immediately triggered an open source fork, OpenTofu. None of the three saw any of the hyperscalers throw their combined weight behind a fork placed in the hands of a foundation – suggesting Redis (the company) may face a rough few years if Valkey's backers choose to throw significant resources at the project.

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