The Apache Software Foundation Celebrates 20 Years of Community-led Development “The Apache Way”

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World’s Largest Open Source Foundation Provides $20b+ Worth of Software for the Public Good at 100% No Cost; Apache Software Used in Every Internet-Connected Country on the Planet

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today its 20th Anniversary, celebrating “The Apache Way” of community-driven development as the key to its success.

The world’s largest Open Source foundation is home to dozens of freely-available (no cost), enterprise-grade Apache projects that serve as the backbone for some of the most visible and widely used applications. The ubiquity of Apache software is undeniable, with Apache projects managing exabytes of data, executing teraflops of operations, and storing billions of objects in virtually every industry. Apache software is an integral part of nearly every end user computing device, from laptops to tablets to phones.

“What started before the term ‘Open Source’ was coined has now grown to support hundreds of projects, thousands of contributors and millions of users,” said Phil Steitz, Chairman of The Apache Software Foundation. “The Apache Way has shown itself to be incredibly resilient in the wake of the many changes in software and technology over the last twenty years. As the business and technology ecosystems around our projects have grown, our community-based open development model has evolved but remained true to the core principles established in the early days of the Foundation. We remain committed to the simple idea that open, community-led development produces great software and when you make that software freely available with no restrictions on how it can be used or integrated, the communities that develop it get stronger. The resulting virtuous cycle has been profoundly impactful on the software industry as a whole and on those of us who have had the good fortune of volunteering here. When we celebrate fifty years, I am sure that we will say the same thing.”

Software for the Public Good

In 1999, 21 founders, including original members of the Apache Group (creators of the Apache HTTP Server; the World’s most popular Web server since 1996) formed The Apache Software Foundation to provide software for the public good. The ASF’s flagship project, the Apache HTTP Server, continues development under the auspices of the ASF, and has grown to serve more than 80 million Websites worldwide.

“The most successful revolutions are those birthed by Passion and Necessity. What keeps them going are Communities,” said ASF co-founder Jim Jagielski. “Congratulations to the ASF and to everyone who has had a hand, large and small, in making it into who and what we are today.”

The Apache Way

The open, community-driven process behind the development of the Apache HTTP Server formed the model adopted by future Apache projects as well as emulated by other Open Source foundations. Dubbed “The Apache Way”, the principles underlying the ASF embrace:

  • Earned Authority: all individuals are given the opportunity to participate, and their influence is based on pu ASF20th Anniversary-PrimaryLogo blicly-earned merit – what they contribute to the community. Merit lies with the individual, does not expire, is not influenced by employment status or employer, and is non-transferable.
  • Community of Peers: participation at the ASF is done through individuals, not organizations. Its flat structure dictates that the Apache community is respectful of each other, roles are equal, votes hold equal weight, and contributors are doing so on a volunteer basis (even if paid to work on Apache code).
  • Open Communications: as a virtual organization, the ASF requires all communications be made online, via email. Most Apache lists are archived and publicly accessible to ensure asynchronous collaboration, as required by a globally-distributed community
  • Consensus Decision Making: Apache Projects are auto-governing with a heavy slant towards driving consensus to maintain momentum and productivity. Whilst total consensus is not possible to establish at all times, holding a vote or other coordination may be required to help remove any blocks with binding decisions.
  • Responsible Oversight: the ASF governance model is based on trust and delegated oversight, with self-governing projects providing reports directly to the Board. Apache Committers help each other by making peer-reviewed commits, employing mandatory security measures, ensuring license compliance, and protecting the Apache brand and community at-large from abuse.

The ASF is strictly vendor neutral. No organization is able to gain special privileges or control a project’s direction, irrespective of employing staff to work on Apache projects or sponsorship status.

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The ASF Today

Behind the ASF is an all-volunteer community comprising 730 individual Members and 7,000 Committers stewarding 200M+ lines of code that benefit billions of users worldwide.

Lauded as one of the industry’s most influential communities, the ASF develops and incubates 350+ Open Source projects and initiatives that are made available to the public-at-large at 100% no cost. The ASF has become an invaluable resource for users and developers alike, drawing 35M page views per week across ; 9 Million+ source code downloads from Apache mirrors (excluding convenience binaries), and Web requests received from every Internet-connected country on the planet.

“Over the past two decades, few institutions have been as important for the advancement and growth of Open Source as The Apache Software Foundation,” said Stephen O’Grady, Principal Analyst with RedMonk. “By providing a neutral environment for developers from diverse backgrounds to work together, the ASF has played a pivotal role in the history of Open Source, and appears poised to continue in this role for the next decade.”

All-Volunteer Community

The membership-based, not-for-profit charitable organization ensures that Apache projects continue to exist beyond the participation of individual volunteers by building diverse communities that develop and support software.

At the ASF, all software development and project leadership is executed entirely by volunteers. The ASF Board and officers are all volunteers. The ASF does not pay for development: thousands of committed individuals help make a difference to the lives of billions of people by ensuring that Apache software remains accessible to all.

The Apache maxim “Community Over Code” underscores that a healthy community is far more important than good code. In the event that the code would dematerialize, a strong community could rewrite it; however, if a community is unhealthy, the code will eventually fail as well.

The merit-driven “Contributor-Committer-Member” approach is the central governing process across the Apache ecosystem. The core Apache Group of 21 individuals grew with developers who contributed code, patches, or documentation. Some of these contributors were subsequently granted “Committer” status by the Membership, and provided access to: 1) commit (write) directly to the code repository, 2) vote on community-related decisions, and 3) propose an active user for Committership. Those Committers who demonstrate merit in the Foundation’s growth, evolution, and progress are nominated for ASF Membership by existing members.

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“The most popular Open Source software is Apache…”

— DZone “What Open Source Software Do You Use?”

Apache software is used in every Internet-connected country on the planet. Apache projects serve as the backbone for some of the world’s most visible and widely used applications in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, Big Data, build management, Cloud Computing, content management, DevOps, IoT and Edge computing, mobile, servers, and Web frameworks, among many other categories. Examples of the breadth of applications that are “Powered by Apache” include:

  • Panama Papers: library, search, and document management tools used in the 2.6TB Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation;
  • US Federal Aviation Administration: system-wide information management to enable every airplane take off and land in US airspace;
  • Netflix: data ingestion pipeline and stream processing 3 trillion events each day;
  • Uber: handling 1M writes per second for 99.99% availability to users and drivers;
  • Mobile app developers: unifying mobile application development across Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, and iOS operating systems;
  • Facebook: processing requests at 300-petabyte data warehouse, connecting 2B+ active users;
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory: accessing content across multi-mission, multi-instrument science data systems;
  • Global Biodiversity Information Facility: managing 1B+ occurrence records for open access to data about all types of life on Earth;
  • European Space Agency: powering new mission control system and next-generation simulators infrastructure;
  • Adobe: powering I/O Runtime and the core of Experience Manager;
  • IBM Watson: advancing data intelligence and semantics capabilities to win first-ever “Man vs. Machine” competition on Jeopardy!
  • Boston Children’s Hospital: linking phenotypic and genomic data for the Precision Link Biobank
  • driving $1B+ in revenue through Big Data optimization;
  • AOL: ingesting 20TB+ of data per day;
  • Minecraft: bundling libraries to modify the second most popular video game of all time;
  • Novopay: serving as a transactional backbone to processes $80M+ each month;
  • Formula 1, Audi, and Daimler: streaming data in vehicles in real time;
  • Twitter: processing and analyzing more than a Zettabyte of raw data through 200B+ tweets annually;
  • Pinterest: processing 800B+ daily events;
  • Amazon Music: tuning recommendations for 16M+ subscribers;
  • NASA: powering Big Earth and Ocean Science data analytics;

And, from Accumulo to Zipkin (incubating), more than six dozen Apache projects form the foundation of the $166B Big Data ecosystem.

Apache software is overseen by a self-selected team of active contributors to the project. A Project Management Committee (PMC) guides the Project’s day-to-day operations, including community development and product releases.

The Code

Over the past two decades, 1,058,321,099 lines of Apache code were committed over 3,022,836 commits. The ASF codebase is conservatively valued at least $20B, using the COCOMO 2 model. All Apache software is released under the Apache License v2.0.

“If It Didn’t Happen On-list…It Didn’t Happen”

Since the ASF’s founding, 351,067 authors sent 19,587,835 emails on 8,529,590 topics across 1,131 mailing lists.

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Apache Incubator

The Apache Incubator is the entry path for projects and codebases wishing to become part of the efforts at The Apache Software Foundation. All code donations from external organizations and existing external projects enter through the Incubator to: 1) ensure all donations are in accordance with the ASF legal standards; and 2) develop new communities that adhere to our guiding principles. Incubation is required of all newly accepted projects until a further review indicates that the infrastructure, communications, and decision making process have stabilized in a manner consistent with other successful ASF projects.

Since the ASF’s founding, 199 projects have successfully graduated from the Apache Incubator. Today, 52 projects are in development, applying The Apache Way to innovations in annotation, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, cryptography, data science, development environments, Edge and IoT, email; JavaEE, libraries, Machine Learning, serverless computing, and many more categories.

“Wow, is it 20 years already? Congratulations to the ASF! I’ve always been a big believer and advocate of Open Source, but when we founded the ASF 20 years ago I certainly didn’t expect *this* level of growth and success,” said ASF co-founder Lars Eilebrecht. “I’m very proud that the ASF – despite many challenges – has remained true to its core values and the Apache Way of Open Source development. The ASF has had a very big and positive impact on the overall IT industry, and I’m certain that the industry and the Internet would look very different today without the ASF’s involvement in the rise of Open Source!”

Apache License v2.0

“Apache-style licensing may yield more adoption and money.”

— Matt Asay, c|net

The commercially-friendly and permissive Apache License v2.0 has become an Open Source industry standard. Its popularity has led to the rise in corporate contribution in Open Source, and is behind the launch of dozens of billion dollar companies, and is facilitating the adoption of some of the world’s fastest-growing Open Source projects.

“I’d like to congratulate the Apache Software Foundation for growing and demonstrating a working model for open source development that has stood the test of time,” said ASF co-founder Randy Terbush. “I am forever grateful for the opportunities that my participation in the ASF gave me and I am very proud of what the group has become.”

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Pre-dating the ASF, ApacheCon is the official global conference series of The Apache Software Foundation. Heralding “Tomorrow’s Technology Today” since 1998, participants learn about Open Source development “The Apache Way”, independent of business interests, corporate biases, or sales pitches. ApacheCon presents dynamic, community-driven content and innovation insight through hands-on sessions, keynotes, real-world case studies, trainings, hackathons, BarCamps, and more. The ASF is holding four events in 2019:

  • Apache Roadshow/Washington DC 25, March 2019
  • Apache Roadshow/Chicago, 13-14 May 2019
  • ApacheCon North America/Las Vegas, 9-12 September 2019
  • ApacheCon Europe/Berlin, 22-24 October 2019

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