- On Tuesday, Google Cloud announced expanded partnerships with open source software companies MongoDB, Redis Labs, Elastic, DataStax, Neo4j, InfluxData, and Confluent.
- Some of these companies have something else in common: They’ve publicly criticized Amazon Web Services and other major cloud providers for taking their free code and reselling it for a profit.
- Under the leadership of new CEO Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud is taking a "strategy that is collaborative, not combative."
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Under new CEO Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud has publicly made a stronger commitment to open source by expanding partnerships with seven companies in the space.
On Tuesday, Google Cloud announced seven strategic partnerships with MongoDB, Redis Labs, Elastic, DataStax, Neo4j, InfluxData, and Confluent. These partnerships were initiated under Kurian’s leadership and will begin within the next few months, the company says.
Google previously offered these companies’ products from Google Cloud’s software marketplace. However, these new, expanded partnerships mean that these products will be more tightly integrated with Google Cloud, making it easier for customers to use them.
Importantly, some of the companies involved in the partnership tell Business Insider they have revenue sharing agreements with Google, though specifics aren’t clear. A spokesperson for Neo4j tells Business Insider that the amount shared with the original developer will depend on customer usage of the software. Google declined to comment on the revenue-sharing aspect of the partnership.
Several of these open source companies have something else in common, too: MongoDB, Redis Labs, Elastic, and Confluent have criticized Amazon Web Services and other cloud providers for their approach to open source products. Specifically, AWS has come under scrutiny for the way that it takes free, open source software, like MongoDB’s or Elastic’s, and releases it as a paid service.
Manvinder Singh, head of infrastructure partnerships at Google Cloud, says that the company is taking an alternative approach, as a way to help open source software companies build their business.
"As you may be aware, there’s been a lot of debate in the industry on the best way to deliver open source services on the cloud," Singh said. "We believe that the right way to solve this is to work closely together with companies that have put resources in these technologies. We believe in a strategy that is collaborative, not combative."
It echoes a sentiment that Kurian has voiced in the recent past, about the importance of partnering with open source companies.
"If you look at the open source community, we’re taking the approach of partnering with the open source community, as opposed to taking their technology and selling it on our platform," Kurian said in February.
How these partnerships will work
These expanded partnerships with Google Cloud will include unified support and billing with those seven companies. Customers can purchase the enterprise version of these software products on directly on Google Cloud and easily use them with their own software.
Google Cloud has revenue-sharing agreements with these companies, as both will make money based on customer usage. Their sales and support teams will also collaborate: Google Cloud will help with supporting these products, while these companies will provide deeper support if required.
"The important part is that teams can collaborate in the field and provide a unified front to the customer," Sahir Azam, SVP of cloud products at MongoDB, told Business Insider. "It’s a much more holistic experience."
Redis Labs CMO Manish Gupta says that Redis Labs already had a partnership with Google Cloud, but that the search giant took the initiative to expand this partnership and reached out about three months ago.
"What we find is that GCP is embracing the database projects that have an open source underpinning," Gupta told Business Insider. "They believe in the power of open source projects and they want to make it seamlessly available."
Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData, also says Googel Cloud reached out about three months ago, and since they will collaborate on sales, he says it’s a "compelling partnership for both parties," and this announcement indicates that Google Cloud is seen as a cloud that’s especially developer-friendly.
"I think Google’s done a really good job appealing to the open source developers," Kaplan told Business Insider. "I believe they have the best open source brand. They’re not perceived as competing with open source players but supporting them, which I think is a big deal for us."
Criticism of AWS
The criticism of AWS and other cloud providers stems from how they started making money off of these companies’ free products.
AWS has repackaged Redis Lab and Confluent’s free, open source software projects, and now sells them from its cloud. It’s also created its own version of MongoDB’s database, and started up its own open source project around Elastic’s technology, adding features that customers previously had to pay for.
Elsewhere, Chinese cloud providers including Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent packaged up MongoDB and released it as its own paid service.
That’s all allowed under the rules of open source software, where anybody can use the code for any purpose, including profit. But AWS, in particular, is widely considered to not contribute enough code to open source projects in return, compared to peers including Google and Microsoft — leading to concerns that by taking, without giving back, Amazon is hurting smaller software companies.
Indeed, these smaller companies saw these moves from Amazon as competitive, and they have taken the drastic step of changing their software licenses to discourage the cloud providers from using their code for commercial purposes.
Meanwhile, Singh says Google Cloud is taking a different tactic: Developers all over the world already rely on software from these open source companies to build their apps and services. For Google Cloud to serve its customers, Singh says, it has to be a good home for the open source community.
"The unique approach we’re taking is we’re elevating the experience," Singh said. "The experience will be just like our first party services. We’re essentially making it a first class service on our platform."
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