Why Open Source Matters for Databases

Apr 21, 2023
Gian Merlino

Community is everything when it comes to open source software. But it’s not just on individual contributors to drive new versions, add features or fix issues; it’s also on the companies that build on top of it. At Imply, we are fully committed to contributing to the advancement of Apache Druid.

Over the years, certain companies in the data infra space have declared that open source is on the way out. Their idea is that open source will be wholly replaced by fully-proprietary cloud offerings as the preferred solutions for most developers. I think this is a cynical and reductive view. Cloud services are absolutely the best, fastest, and easiest way to set up data infrastructure — we built Imply Polaris for exactly this reason. However, that doesn’t mean that, as an industry, we should approach every problem with fully-proprietary solutions. Developers deserve credit for thinking about how the services they use are built, and they deserve credit for preferring services that are based on open source, community-driven software. 

I believe in the open approach wholeheartedly. It’s often the right choice over fully-proprietary options. After all, who doesn’t want to live in a world where all the best software is available as open source? It means that people just getting started in tech are able to play around with world-class software and see how it really works. It means that smaller companies can build and innovate without a lot of upfront cost. It means that leaders in the industry can more easily collaborate. It means reduced vendor lock-in. And with the community-driven approach, the more the community grows, the better the technology becomes.

We are consistently working to make Druid the best open source database for modern analytics applications, and we are consistently working on our Database-as-a-Service offering (Polaris) to make it the best, simplest, and most robust way to use the power of Druid.

Imply’s Contributions to Druid

I’m proud that at Imply, we’ve been leaders in the Druid community since the very earliest days of the company. In those days, we worked with others in the community to build exactly-once ingestion from Kafka. We developed and contributed the SQL query layer, a vectorized query engine, a new aggregation engine, dependency-free batch ingestion, and tons of other items.

More recently, we contributed the new multi-stage query task engine, a significant step forwards for Druid. Those who know Druid know that it was fundamentally built for interactivity — fast queries, at scale, without compromises. But our community has also been asking for Druid to expand support for more analytic use cases, and for more robust data management. I’m excited that we now have an answer for these asks, and a foundation for building many more exciting features in the future.

The Best of Open Source and DBaaS

Druid is at the heart of Imply. We’re an open source business, and we want the core technology to be great. And, of course, we also run a business. Sometimes people are concerned that it would be difficult for us to balance these two things, and that we’ll be tempted to “hobble” Druid in some way in order to sell more products and services.

There’s no need to worry about this. We’re thrilled that Druid stands on its own as a powerful piece of software. We focus on adding value on top, primarily by providing the best way to deploy Druid in cloud environments. Imply Polaris is our most exciting offering here. It is designed to help you get up and running on Druid fast, without needing to be an expert in the system. As a fully-managed DBaaS, it eliminates the need to deal with infrastructure and operations. Beyond software, our deep bench of in-house expertise, available through support and professional services, allows you to run mission critical apps with confidence. Simply put, there’s no need for us to choose between open source and SaaS – we can and do both. 

We’re here to help you get better application performance, lower your total cost of ownership to run Druid, and provide help when it’s needed. At the same time, we’re also committed to making Druid better, simpler, and easier to use.

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