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April 9, 2019

Google Extends Olive Branch to Open Source Tech

Alex Woodie

Google Cloud today announced strategic partnerships with seven prominent providers of big data technologies that will bring those vendors’ solutions to the Google Cloud Platform as managed services. The move appears designed to position Google in a more favorable light relative to Amazon, which has taken a more heavy-handed approach with the open source backers.

The partnerships that Google Cloud signed with Neo4j, InfluxData, Elastic, MongoDB, Redis Labs, DataStax, and Confluent will allow customers to access those vendors’ open source solutions as “native” services on the Google Cloud. In addition to integrating with other services on Google Cloud, customers will benefit from unified management, support, and even billing.

Each of these companies is a leader in their respective field, says Manvinder Singh, head of infrastructure partnerships for Google Cloud. That includes graph (Neo4j), time-series (InfluxData), search (Elastic), general purpose (MongoDB), key-value (Redis) and wide-column databases (Apache Cassandra), as well as the Apache Kafka message bus, which is backed by Confluent.

“But more importantly,” Singh says, “each of these companies has invested precious time and resources in developing these technologies, nurturing …the open source community and bringing this innovation to customers. Which is why through these partnerships, we’ll be offering fully managed services that are tightly integrated into Google Cloud Platform, essentially delivering an experience that is similar to native GCP services.”

If it was Google’s plant to separate itself from Amazon Web Services – which has alienated parts the open source community by adopting open source products for its own branded data services, even going so far as to launch an alternative branch of the Elasticsearch project last month – it may be working.

“Neo4j couldn’t have a better partner to bring the power of graphs to developers and businesses as a managed service,” states Emil Eifrem, CEO and co-founder of graph database maker Neo4j, in a press release. “Google Cloud has demonstrated a deep respect for Neo4j’s open source roots and for our role in pioneering the graph database category.”

Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData, says the deal will be good for developers looking to build time-series capabilities into their applications. “Google and InfluxData share a belief that the open source community fosters innovation and transparency that is unmatched by any proprietary product offering,” he states in a press release.

AWS has delivered solutions based on open source technology backed by Confluent, MongoDB, Redis, and Elastic. In response, those companies – all of which offer cloud services of their own — have tightened up their licenses to prevent what they see as unethical uses of their products.

While Google Cloud managers didn’t expressly mention Amazon Web Services or the controversy surrounding its use of open source software during its press conference last week, the elephant in the room clearly was AWS.

“As you may be aware, there’s been a lot of debate in the industry on the best way of delivering these open source technologies as services in the cloud,” Singh says. “Given Google’s DNA and the belief that we have in the open source model, which is demonstrated by products like Kubernetes, Tensorflow, Go, and so forth, we believe that the right way to solve this is to work closely together with companies that have invested their resources in developing these open source technology.”

Terms of deals with each of the third-party vendors were not disclosed. But clearly, they will be benefiting financially from the arrangement in some form. Singh says the deals call for continued collaboration between the vendors and Google Cloud, including through building tighter integration in areas like identify and access management.

If Google Cloud was looking for a way to create goodwill among developers and separate itself from AWS at the same time, it couldn’t have found a better way to do it.

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