Elastic and Its Approach to Its Search Business

February 16, 2021

This blog post is about Elastic, the Shay Banon information retrieval company, not Amazon AWS Elastic services. Confused yet? The confusion will only increase over time because the “name” Elastic is going to be difficult to keep intact due to Amazon’s ability to erode brand names.

But that’s just one challenge the Elastic search company founded by the magic behind Compass Search. An excellent analysis of Elastic search’s challenges appears in “Elastic Has Stretched the Patience of Many in Open Source. But Is There Room for a Third Way?”

The write up quotes an open source expert as saying:

Let’s be really clear – it’s a move from open to proprietary as a consequence of a failed business model decision…. Elastic should have though their revenue model through up front. By the time the team made the decision to open source their code, the platform economy existed and their decisions to open source ought to
have been aligned to an appropriate business model.

I circled this statement in the article:

Sympathy for Elastic’s position comes from a perhaps unexpected source. Matt Assay, principal at Elastic’s bête noire AWS, believes it’s time to revisit the idea of “shared source”, a licensing scheme originally dreamed up by Microsoft two decades ago as an answer to the then-novel open source concept. In shared source, code is open – as in visible – but its uses are restricted… The heart of the problem is about who gets to profit from open source software. To help resolve that problem, we just might need new licensing.

Information retrieval is not about precision and recall, providing answers to users, or removing confusion about terms and product names — search is about money. Making big bucks from a utility service continues to lure some and smack down others. Now it is time to be squishy and bouncy I suppose.

Stephen E Arnold, February 16, 2021


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