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Bas Steins
Bas Steins

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Open Source: Redis License Change and Rebranding

Redis, probably the most popular choice for caching backends, and a spiritual successor of Memcached, changed its license. Goodbye BSD, hello SSPL. That’s not big news as it was announced on March 20, 2024. A day later, they published an article on their blog, titled “The Future of Redis”, in which one of the most prominent points is about “Generative AI”. Yesterday, they announced a rebranding on their 𝕏 Account.

There are a two things to mention: All of the license changes we’ve seen recently in popular is targeted at cloud giants, like AWS. As arstechnica puts it: “[AWS], you cannot continue reselling Redis as a service as part of your $90 billion business without some kind of licensed contribution back”. The business model behind Open Source infrastructure software, like MySQL, Elastic Search, or – now – Redis, has always been to provide an excellent product free of charge to ensure widespread adoption and to cash in on larger scale installations and customization. Turns out, in a world where software is increasingly running on servers in an oligopoly, that seems no longer feasible. Free (libre) Software gave us freedom from big tech, and now big tech found the loophole through “the cloud”. Ironically, it’s now big tech that forks free software to have a version with a more permissible license (which is what I expect to happen to Redis, too). We’ve come from terminal computers to personal computers, and now we’re back to relying on computing power operated by “big tech”. Since the adoption of technology is ubiquitous in society now, I suspect that there is no way back from these oligopolies or relevant smaller entities. Founding a “big cloud competitor” will soon be (or already is?) as impractical as founding a new telco. As much as I hate to say this, “tech” in and of itself is on the verge of becoming an old boring industry.

The second one is about Redis and “AI” and the rebranding: AI is the hype. Unlike “Crypto”, which has some brilliantly architected solutions to something between the lines of libertarian ideas and get-rich-quick-schemes, AI promises nothing less than the star-treky “Hey, Computer” magic.

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