For open source vs. proprietary, AWS might have it both ways

If it’s careful to do its own open source too, AWS could mine Google’s open source investments for a long time

For all the criticism that Amazon Web Services has received for allegedly stripmining open source software for corporate gain, the company that should perhaps scream loudest is no defenseless startup. It’s Google. At a recent AWS Summit, Amazon Vice President Sandy Carter told the audience that “85 percent of TensorFlow workloads run on AWS.” Couple that with the 51 percent of Kubernetes workloads that run on AWS, according to CNCF data, and it becomes clear that while Google is releasing some of the industry’s most important open source code, it’s AWS that is profiting most from it.

Is this a bad thing? As ever, it depends.

Google: I give and I give and I give

Google is arguably the world’s most important open source contributor, given the projects that emerge from it on an increasingly routine basis.

With TensorFlow, it’s lowering the bar to machine learning at scale. With Kubernetes, it’s changing how enterprises build and deploy applications. With Android, it defines how most of the world communicates. And so on.

While Google has profited from these projects, other companies—and particularly AWS in the case of TensorFlow and Kubernetes—profit more.

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