Seeing how most things Apache now have at least something to do with Confluence, it seems that they are getting very close together. Is Atlassian in the process of acquiring Apache foundation? I am primarily seeing this trend as regards to Apache web server and Kafka MQ that Atlassian is selling. Correct me if I am wrong, because seeing how Kafka is available through Confluence I am assuming that it is owned by Atlassian. I am very confused about these interrelations, so please bear with me.

Also, having heard that Microsoft is now a substantial donor to Apache foundation, I am getting impression that either Atlassian and Microsoft compete for the ownership of Apache, or they are one and the same. So, what is the skinny?

  • The difference between Confluent and Confluence is a bit like the difference between the Four Seasons Hotel and Four Seasons Landscape Gardening. Nov 9 '20 at 8:40

The Apache Software Foundation is a non-profit foundation. It has no owners, similar to how natural persons have no owners. Instead, the foundation is controlled by a board that is elected by the foundation's members. A company could effectively take over a foundation by getting its employees elected into the board, but they would have to convince the members first – not particularly likely for such a lively foundation. Thus, fears about an imminent takeover are unfounded.

Various companies sponsor the Apache foundation. For example, Atlassian contributes licenses for its Jira and Confluence products. Apache and Atlassian have something to do with each other in the sense that they use each other's software.

Apache software is generally offered under the permissive Apache 2.0 license, which allows commercial use and reselling. If Atlassian offers its own products based on Kafka or Apache HTTPD, they are totally allowed to do that, just like anyone else.

The Apache Kafka project is currently led by Jun Rao, who originally developed Kafka at LinkedIn and co-founded Confluent (not Confluence!). Confluent was founded by Kafka developers. This is not a case of corporate takeover of an open source project. This is more like the ideal open source story: that some developers build awesome open source software and are able to finance themselves by working on this software. For example, Confluent offers Kafka training and adds value-add software on top of Kafka. While close cooperation between a company and a foundation's open source project would raise eyebrows e.g. at GNU, it is perfectly normal in the more enterprise-friendly open source world around the Apache, Eclipse, or Linux foundations.


Since LinkedIn === Microsoft, the scenario in @amon 's answer above sounds like the takeover of Apache by Microsoft. They kill 2x birds with one stone:

  1. Apache is eliminated as competition to IIS, and they get its code base.

  2. OpenOffice is eliminated as competition to MS Office, and they get its code base.

What am I missing?

  • 4
    LinkedIn created Kafka and then open sourced it in 2011. This predates the 2016 acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft. Taking over a foundation's board just to eliminate a “competitor” would be extremely pointless given that (a) the source code can already be used by MS under the Apache 2.0 license, (b) having control over the Apache name would not be control over the project (projects are social). OpenOffice is a great illustration for the 2nd point: when the name was acquired by Oracle the project continued as LibreOffice. Later Oracle donated the worthless OpenOffice name to Apache.
    – amon
    Nov 8 '20 at 19:57
  • 5
    You're missing any evidence for your wild claims. Nov 9 '20 at 5:43
  • Atlassian != Linkedin, Atlassian is not a very funny company (...honestly) but can do nothing to the ASF.
    – peterh
    Nov 9 '20 at 14:47

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