Elasticsearch and Kibana moving to SSPL license model starting version 7.11 — What you should know about this?
On Jan 14th, 2021, Elasticsearch and Kibana made big license changes to adopt the SSPL (Server side public license) from the open-source Apache 2.0 License.
Announcement details are here — https://www.elastic.co/blog/licensing-change
Here is the back story:
In recent years, cloud providers have been using open source products to modify them and develop their version of managed (paid) service offerings. However, the modified code wouldn’t be accessible as an open-source code. Because of this, in 2018, MongoDB had created SSPL (Server Side Public License) to protect the open-source code from being used by cloud providers to develop their own SaaS/DBaaS offerings.
SSPL: SSPL suggests that if any organization modifies an open-source version of a code and provides it to third parties as a service, then it must make all source codes available to the open-source community at no cost. I recommend you to read more here and consult your organization’s software license audit team.
The SSPL has not been approved yet by the OSI (Open source initiative), but it’s valid for those who have already adopted it.
What is the impact on the Org using Elasticsearch and Kibana?
Elasticsearch (ELK) stack is so famous that most companies use it in some form or the other and has reached over 225 Million downloads in 2018.*
- While for any organization, a self-managed Elasticsearch or ELK stack (on-prem or cloud) without any offerings as a service, there should not have any problem, but you will need to accept the new license starting 7.1l, please consult your audit team to understand the impacts.
- For cloud providers of Elasticsearch as a managed service such as AWS, Azure — the new updates can bring impacts. The user of the cloud service would not be directly affected, however, they may not be see newer version upgrade starting 7.11 and beyond for time being.
- In 2019, Elastic and Google teamed up to bring a more native Elasticsearch Service experience on Google Cloud. The duo has deeper GCP integration now, however, the impacts are unclear.
Many open source communities might follow this approach in the coming years. It would be interesting to see the response from cloud provider and Open source initiative.
I strongly recommend consulting your software license audit team to better understand the impacts of license changes.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy. Please consult the lawyer/software license team in your org for the impact of changes to the license.