Elastic CEO on New Products and AWS Battle

November 10, 2021

Here is an interesting piece from InfoWorld about a company we have been following for years. Elastic is the primary developer behind the open source Elasticsearch and made its money vending managed services for the platform. Lately, though, the company has been expanding into new markets—application performance management (APM), observability, and security information event management (SIEM). The company’s CEO discusses this expansion as well as its struggle with Amazon over the use of Elasticsearch in, “Elastic’s Shay Banon: Why We Went Beyond our Search Roots—and Stood Up to ‘Bully’ AWS.”

First, reporter Scott Carey asks about the move into security. Banon admits Elastic was late to the SEIM game, but that timing gave the CEO a unique perspective. He makes this observation:

“When I got into security, I really didn’t understand why the market is so fragmented. I think a big part of it is top-down selling. It’s not like CISOs [Chief Information Security Officers] aren’t smart, but they’re not practitioners, so you can go in and more easily communicate to them that they need certain protection. I could see that there was tension between the security team and developers, operations, devops teams. Security didn’t trust them, and it was the same story as before with operators and developers. This is where I think our biggest opportunity is in the security market. To be one of the companies that brings the trends that caused dev and ops to come together and bring it to security.”

See the write-up for more of Banon’s observations on security, APM, and observability. As for the licensing battle with Amazon, that began in 2015 when AWS implemented its own managed Elasticsearch service without collaborating with Elastic. Carey notes both MongoDB and Cloudflare had similar issues with the mammoth cloud-services vendor. Elastic ultimately took a controversial step to deal with the problem. We learn:

“In a January blog post, Banon outlined how the company was changing its license for Elasticsearch from Apache 2.0 to a dual Elastic License and Server Side Public License (SSPL), a change ‘aimed at preventing companies from taking our Elasticsearch and Kibana products and providing them directly as a service without collaborating with us.’ AWS has since renamed its now-forked service as OpenSearch.”

Banon states he did not really want to change the license but felt he had to take a stand against AWS, which he compared to a schoolyard bully. The CEO has some sympathy for those who feel the decision was unfair to developers outside Elastic who had contributed to Elasticsearch. However, he notes, his company did develop 99% of the software. See the article for more of his reasoning, his perspective on Elasticsearch’s “very open and very simple” new license, and where he sees the company going in the future.

Cynthia Murrell November 10, 2021


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