Versity open-sources S3 gateway with no poison pill

Archival software supplier Versity has produced an open source S3 gateway with an Apache license.

The gateway will enable users to send data to an S3 store and retrieve it as well. Versity’s Scale Out Archive Manager (ScoutAM) archives data to object stores and tape libraries and handles multi-petabyte archives – with 60PB installations not unusual. Versity archives are massive, and it has a 2-exabyte installed base from customer numbers approaching 100. It is currently involved in two separate exabyte-scale archiving bids.

Bruce Gilpin, Versity’s co-founder and CEO, said: “MinIO deprecated their S3 gateway with its Apache 2 license. No credible replacement emerged. So Versity built one.”

Bruce Gilpin briefing an IT Press Tour audience on the Versity Gateway.

MInIO produces the most widely-used object storage software with more than 1.2 billion Docker pulls (downloads). It used to license its software with the Apache v2 license but moved to the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) v3 in May 2021.

A MinIO statement says: “If you distribute, host or create derivative works of the MinIO software over the network, the GNU AGPL v3 license requires that you also distribute the complete, corresponding source code of the combined work under the same GNU AGPL v3 license.” The Apache v2 license has no such restriction.

Gilpin told an IT Press Tour audience: “AGPL is a poison pill license because all derivative work has to be AGPL open source as well. Corporations won’t allow it. We have no plans to use it.” 

In other words, corporations that add AGPL-licensed open source code to their own proprietary software have to license that software as open source too. Gilpin said a potential way around this is to take out a private license from the AGPL original code supplier at cost, and then privately license resulting work. The AGPL original code suppler can make money that way.

He said that “Customers may hire us to provide commercial support for the S3 gateway. But it’s not our primary motivation.”

Versity produces its ScoutFS (File System) software to manage 100s of billions of metadata records. This has a GPL (General Public License) open source license. GPL is like the AGPL license without the restriction that code using the licensed software must be made available as open source too.