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Valkey: The Open Source Alternative to Redis Backed by AWS, Google, Oracle

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Valkey - best alternative to Redis

In a move that could shake up the database landscape, several major technology companies have joined forces to create Valkey, a new open-source fork of the popular Redis data store or an alternate of Redis.

Amazon, Google, Oracle, Ericsson, and Snap Inc. are among the founding members backing the effort under the Linux Foundation.

The announcement comes just weeks after Redis Labs, the company behind the original Redis codebase, sparked controversy by changing to more restrictive licensing for new releases starting with version 7.4. The company adopted dual licensing like Redis Source Available License (RSALv2) and Server Side Public License (SSPLv1), moving away from the permissive BSD license used previously.

Redis Labs framed the licensing changes as necessary to fund further innovation in the Redis platform and protect its intellectual property. However, the move effectively cut off major cloud providers like Amazon Web Services from freely using the newest open-source Redis releases in their managed database offerings.

Unable to operate under the new licensing terms, these companies opted to fork Redis into a new open-source project called Valkey that will continue enhancing the last fully open version, Redis 7.2.4, under the original BSD license.

"By forming Valkey, contributors can pick up where we left off and continue to contribute to a vibrant open source community," said Madelyn Olson, a former Redis core team member now at AWS who is co-leading the Valkey effort.

The Valkey fork has already assembled an impressive roster of maintainers and contributors. In addition to Olson, it includes other former Redis developers like Viktor Söderqvist from Ericsson and Ping Xie from Google Cloud who were instrumental in driving open-source Redis innovation.

"The community's resilience and commitment means we can continue the same innovative work that users have come to admire and depend upon," Xie stated, voicing support for the open-source fork.

Under the Linux Foundation's governance model, Valkey aims to operate as a community-driven project open to all contributors. Hundreds of developers have already voiced intent to participate based on a shared desire to uphold Redis' open-source roots and trajectory.

What is Valkey?

Valkey is a high-performance data structure server that primarily serves key/value workloads. It supports a wide range of native structures and an extensible plugin system for adding new data structures and access patterns.

Valkey can be compiled and used on Linux, OSX, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and FreeBSD. It supports big-endian and little-endian architectures, and both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

It may compile on Solaris derived systems (for instance SmartOS) but our support for this platform is best effort and Valkey is not guaranteed to work as well as in Linux, OSX, and *BSD.

While open-source forks are not unprecedented, Valkey stands out for the heavyweights backing it and the direct lineage being forked from the original Redis codebase before the licensing changes.

It promises to reignite debates around the tensions of building sustainable open-source businesses. 

Redis Labs defended its moves as vital for funding its software's roadmap long-term. However, critics argue the licensing overhaul betrays open-source principles and undermines a large existing ecosystem.

For developers relying on Redis, Valkey emerges as an open alternative – though sticking with it will mean diverging from whatever roadmap Redis Labs charts for the canonical Redis project going forward.

"Having this project in the hands of a foundation, rather than a single company, means Valkey will be community-driven without surprise license changes that break trust," said Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of the Linux Foundation.

This is the third open fork of Redis: A week ago, the author of the Sway user environment and the Hare programming language founded the Redis 7.2.4 fork under the name Redict, the new changes that were published under the LGPLv3 license. 

In addition, since 2019, Snapchat has been developing the KeyDB project, which forked from Redis 5 and is notable for its transition to a multi-threaded architecture that uses more efficient memory methods and includes additional features: such as active replication, Flash-optimized storage, and support for separate secondary key lifetimes.

Only time will tell if Valkey can maintain Redis' momentum independent of its original creators. But the wide-ranging industry support signals it will be a fork to watch, with big implications for open-source data stores.

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