ESTC-Don’t be Confused, Open Distro is FUD

Here is a post by an 8+ year independent Elasticsearch consultant. The author believes it’s a retaliatory move by AWS because Elastic changed some aspects of its license which makes it so AWS cannot use its Enterprise X-Pack offerings in their hosted service. Sound familiar?…

I didn’t want to publish this piece without first having a look at the release, so I did play around with it a bit. The whole “open distro” additions look amateurishly done - definitely not something I’d put as a security layer for my data. Not at this stage anyway - I’d want it to mature a bit, and it’s code properly audited.



So filtering out all the Amazon “we believe in open source” nonsense here’s what Amazon is doing.

AWS has an AWS Elasticsearch Service, which is basically the free version of Elasticsearch in a paid hosted format. It is missing all of the premium X-pack features that Elastic offers for both on-prem and on their Elastic Cloud hosted option. If you are running on Elastic Cloud you have these features included and always up to date. AWS cannot compete with Elastic Cloud without the features that business customers want.

They also can’t develop their own because they don’t have the Elastic expertise that Elastic does. Go figure.

So they make their own “amateurish” version of the X-pack features that they know nobody would want to pay for on their hosted AWS Elasticsearch. And instead wrap it into an “open source project” and put it on github in hopes that the community experts turns it into something useful and then AWS can scoop it up and throw it onto their hosted service to have something that might have a modicum of chance competing with the real Elastic Cloud.

Mmmm hmmm.



I would look at this differently…

I have been using Elastic Search the open source solution without Elastic Search the company for many years. Much like Oracle made using the Java Development Kit (JDK) dangerous by adding custom extensions, and then going after corporations for licensing in order to monetize the open source, Elastic has the same strategy. The strategy for Java was to make OpenJDK. The same happened with Mysql and a safe MariaDB.

Amazon and AWS’s customers want a way to continue using AWS, without having to pay a fee. That’s the way to do it.

There will be plenty who may choose to use the Elastic Search Company offering…but plenty who are happy to plug it together themselves.


Elastic wants to make parts of Elasticsearch proprietary, so they can charge for it.
Amazon wants to keep Elasticsearch open source, so they can charge for hosting it.

Everything is legal here, no wrongdoing on either part. Yet they are working at opposite purposes.

Google “Apache Lucene”

Lucene is an indexing and searching engine. It is released for free under an open source licence, (Apache License). Besides some minor notification requirements, anyone is free to take the source code and use it for any purpose, without any restrictions or royalties. Shay Banon (CEO of ESTC) took the Lucene engine and wrote ElasticSearch around it.

Just last week, Apache released version 8.0 of Lucene. 20 years of continually updating, bug fixing, and adding new features to the software. All without ever charging a penny. This is what Open Source is about.