You know what? Fork this: AWS renames its take on Elasticsearch to OpenSearch following trademark fight

Beta expected in a matter of weeks, production release planned for summer

AWS has introduced the OpenSearch project, the new name for its open-source fork of Elasticsearch and Kibana.

OpenSearch is "the new home for our previous distribution of Elasticsearch (Open Distro for Elasticsearch)," according to a post yesterday, and the code is licensed under Apache 2.0. The Kibana fork is called OpenSearch Dashboards.

The projects are on GitHub, where they are described as "in alpha state." The contributors said: "We've been removing non-Apache 2.0 compliant code and doing a full rename of the project."

AWS also confirmed its plans "to rename our existing Amazon Elasticsearch Service to Amazon OpenSearch Service" and said the new OpenSearch APIs will be backward compatible with existing ones.

The company added that "Red Hat, SAP, Capital One and have joined us in support" and that "we have also published permissive usage guidelines for the OpenSearch trademark, so you can use the name to promote your offerings."

AWS introduced its Elasticsearch service in October 2015, based on what it said was "a popular open-source search and analytics engine." It uses code from both Elasticsearch and Kibana, a search dashboard. Elastic, where the creator of Elasticsearch Shay Banon is CEO, was displeased with what it claimed to be unauthorised use of its trademark, especially when AWS CTO Werner Vogels tweeted that it was "a great partnership"; Banon said there was no collaboration.

The dispute escalated to a lawsuit filed in September 2019 and a bitter post from Banon in January 2021 in which he accused the cloud giant of "misleading and confusing the community" while also introducing a licence change to the Elasticsearch code.

The Elastic License v2 denies users the right to "provide the products to others as a managed service." Banon's move was unpopular with many in the open-source community, such as developer Drew DeVault who declared: "Elastic is no longer open source, and this is a move against open source... Elastic has spit in the face of every single one of 1,573 contributors, and everyone who gave Elastic their trust, loyalty, and patronage."

Licence to spill?

AWS created its own Open Distro for Elasticsearch in 2019, initially on the basis that changes were submitted back to the upstream project. When Banon announced the change in licence, AWS declared that its Open Distro would become an Apache 2.0-licensed fork, accusing Elastic of "trying to claim the benefits of open source, while chipping away at the very definition of open source itself."

Adam Jacob, co-founder and former CTO of Chef, said on Twitter that the OpenSearch project "is good for everyone (except maybe Elastic, but they brought it on themselves)."

Bruno Borges, Java lead at Microsoft (but no doubt speaking personally), said: "While I think it is an 'OK' move by AWS Open Source, I also think it was a missed opportunity to improve company's relationship with FOSS communities," expressing disappointment that AWS was keeping itself as the steward of OpenSearch rather than handing it to a foundation such as Apache.

AWS said that a beta of OpenSearch is expected "in the next weeks" with a production release planned "by early summer." ®

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