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Cloud vendors are who’s powering open source now

By some accounts, the open source world is about to end as evil cloud empires suck the marrow from fragile open source communities, giving little back. This narrative has taken hold, leading some doomsday prophets to preach the end of open source sustainability as we know it.

The data, however, suggests something very, very different.

According to two independent analyses of GitHub data, as well as CNCF data, the biggest contributors to open source projects are—you guessed it!—the public cloud companies. Indeed, precisely because they’re in the business of operationalizing software, not selling it, these companies are perhaps best positioned to fuel, not destroy, open source for many years to come.

Open-sourcing the forest, not just some trees

For those paying attention, it has been clear for some time that Microsoft and Google, in particular, have been the biggest, most public contributors to open source projects. As dominant platform companies intent on reaching developers, open source is a requirement, not a nice-to-have. Microsoft initially made waves by opening up to running and/or supporting all sorts of open source projects on Azure, while Google went a step further and open-sourced incredibly powerful code like Kubernetesand TensorFlow.

Even Amazon Web Services, the hegemonic cloud leader accused of skimping on open source contributions, can no longer sit on the sidelines of open source communities. While AWS has always been more active in open sourcethan supposed, it dramatically upped its open source game in 2018.

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