Celebrating a Decade of Apachecons


As it approaches its 10th anniversary confab in November, the Apache Software Foundation vows to spread awareness of its key role in nurturing the growth of the Web and encouraging companies to experiment with Linux.

‚ÄúApache is more than just a Web server,‚Äù said ASF Chairman Jim Jagielski. ‚ÄúApache has revolutionized and kick-started the universal aspect of the Web… which wouldn‚Äôt be as pervasive or as huge if we hadn‚Äôt given software away for free that enabled everyone to be on it.‚Äù

Apache also has been an “inroad for Linux,” gaining users’ confidence that open source works and is reliable, and, in turn, encouraging migration away from expensive proprietary platforms, he said.

Microsoft Return?

Its normally quiet role as a bridge between open source and proprietary software worlds grabbed headlines last year when Microsoft, to the astonishment and/or skepticism of many, came to Apachecon with promises of friendship and collaboration and backed up its words with money, becoming an event sponsor for the first time.

Microsoft is expected to renew its sponsorship of the Apache Software Foundation again this year but whether or not it also will renew its sponsorship of the Apachecon conference and/or attend this year is not yet known, Jagielski said.

Following its last Apachecon appearance, Microsoft has donated code to PHP and the Linux kernel, demonstrating with its actions that it wants to be a partner with the open source community as well as a competitor, he said.

“Microsoft may not agree 1000% with open source but there’s enough mindset overlap that they recognize that it makes sense for them to help increase open source,” Jagielski added.

Top Apache Projects

Out of some 65 active Apache projects, Jagielski cited three, in particular, for their innovation and adoption:

  • Apache Web server, which has a roughly 77% market share of active Web sites without any marketing promotion, despite competition from IBM, Sun and Oracle
  • Tomcat, Apache‚Äôs Java application server, which is infiltrating enterprises just like the Apache Web server did four years ago, because it‚Äôs lighter, faster and works better than proprietary alternatives
  • Hadoop, a method for distributing high-end searches over many machines. In a fascinating turn-about, the Hadoop framework was created by Apache developers based on a Google white paper, but Google now is actively working on it, as is Apache, Jagielski said. Yahoo also is basing its new search engine on Hadoop and Lucene, another Apache project, he added.

The Apache Impact

Apache’s collaboration with these private industries demonstrates how open source is “changing the landscape” by enabling competing vendors to build upon a free, common layer of innovation instead of each starting from scratch, Jagielski said.

The Apache Software Foundation also has encouraged innovation with its “business-friendly” unrestricted licensing, which enables companies to use its software for commercial purposes as long as Apache receives credit for its contribution, he said. The licensing language facilitates the formation of startups that shrink wrap Apache technology and/or offer support services, he said. Cloudera, SpringSource or Covalent, for example.

Finally, the Apache community collectively ensures the continuity of good projects which otherwise might stall if dependent on a single developer who leaves for other pursuits; Apache projects also gain visibility from the Apache name, he said.

The Challenge of Cloud Computing

The biggest challenge in the Apache space right now is no surprise: virtualization and cloud computing. With more servers, more moving parts and no idea where applications are actually running, IT is growing in complexity and, therefore, monitoring is critically important, Jagielski said. Open source software has made these alternative computing options more feasible and practical because it’s lean and efficient, with minimal memory for quick downloading and rapid movement from one server or cloud to another, he said. Open source does all that, and gives “a lot of bang for the buck,” he said.

At the next Apachecon in Oakland, CA, in Apache’s spiritual home state, developers will be debuting several innovations, including two complementary projects that collectively will improve cloud management.

The first is the expected beta release of SpringSource’s http server project, which will enable clouds to reconfigure themselves when servers are added or removed. When finalized, SpringSource will be donating this code back to the community. Secondly, Apache is working on an upgrade to its mod_proxy, a single gateway and load balancer for large server deployments, enabling it to implement real-time auto-configuration in the cloud, which will dovetail nicely with SpringSource’s http server project, Jagielski said.

In addition, Apache is finishing a new asynchronous architecture that harnesses the idle time between workloads to increase capacity and scalability. This is included as an alternate method for processing requests in Apache 2.2 but will become the main method in a later version by the end of the year, Jagielski said.

SpingSource Acquisition

Asked about the impact of VMware’s recent acquisition of SpringSource Inc., which is based on the open source Spring framework, Jagielski said the purchase was “a very smart move for VMware” and will benefit the open source community as well.

“This enables VMware to help generate tools, services and software packages that will make cloud migrations easier but also will make open source code run better as well,” he said. “VMware will not only generate unique code for themselves but leverage their expertise to update and enhance code for virtual and cloud environments. This gives them a leg up on the competition. Everyone else will be playing catch-up.”