After MongoDB decided last year that it was changing the license for its open-source database to a more restrictive version, Red Hat decided it would no longer include MongoDB in the latest version of its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.
The change apparently went unnoticed until a Hacker News thread took off earlier today, but it was included in the release notes for RHEL 8.0, which was released in beta last November. In those notes, Red Hat states “note that the NoSQL MongoDB database server is not included in RHEL 8.0 Beta because it uses the Server Side Public License (SSPL).”
Fed up with the ease at which cloud providers can provide open-source projects as revenue-generating managed services, MongoDB decided last October that it would change the license for the open-source database it has nurtured for the past several years. The SSPL stipulates that anyone offering that project as a cloud service must also release all the code they wrote to do that as an open-source project, and the introduction of that license has sparked a huge debate within the software development community about what it means to be open source in the cloud computing era.
Veterans of the open-source movement tend to be deeply skeptical of MongoDB’s approach, and apparently you can count Red Hat among that group. ZDNet noted that backers of the open-source Fedora Linux project, which is sponsored by Red Hat, also recently decided that MongoDB was no longer welcome.
“It is the belief of Fedora that the SSPL is intentionally crafted to be aggressively discriminatory towards a specific class of users,” said Tom Callaway of Red Hat in a message to a Fedora mailing list Tuesday. “Additionally, it seems clear that the intent of the license author is to cause Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt towards commercial users of software under that license,” he wrote.
The most interesting test of whether MongoDB’s approach has backfired will be customer response to Amazon Web Services’ new DocumentDB cloud database service, which is based around an older version of MongoDB released under the more traditional Apache license. AWS made it clear that it intends to compete directly with MongoDB’s managed service on performance and scalability, and there aren’t many enterprise tech companies currently on the planet that are as good at delivering computing performance and scale as AWS.