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The Apache Software Foundation turns 21

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If the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), which bills itself as “the world’s largest Open Source foundation” were a person in its home country of the United States, it would finally be able to drink legally.


The Foundation manages some 200-million lines of code and offers over $20-billion worth of software to the public free, with no licensing fees – the commercially-friendly and permissive Apache License v2 is an open source industry standard.

The ASF has launched and oversees dozens of projects that have had a profound impact on our lives in ways few of us, often unwitting beneficiaries, realise.

“Over the past two decades, The Apache Software Foundation has served as a trusted home for vendor-neutral, community-led collaboration,” said David Nalley, ASF’s executive VP. “Today, the ASF is a vanguard for open source, fostering project communities large and small, with a portfolio of best-in-class innovations upon which the world continues to rely.”

Announcing its 'coming of age' milestone, ASF listed some of the projects which show how “Apache’s breakthrough technology touches every aspect of modern computing, powering most of the Internet, managing exabytes of data, executing teraflops of operations, and storing trillions of objects in virtually every industry.”

So, for example, Netflix uses Apache Druid to manage its 1.5 trillion-row data warehouse  and Apple's Siri uses Apache HBase to complete full-ring replication around the world in 10 seconds.

Other noteworthy projects, in addition to the hundreds of millions of websites that are powered by the Apache HTTP server, include:

  • China’s second largest courier, SF Express, uses Apache SkyWalking to ship critical COVID-19 coronavirus supplies worldwide.
  • In another COVID-19-related application, Apache Guacamole’s clientless remote desktop gateway is helping thousands of individuals, businesses, and universities worldwide safely work from home without needing to be tied to a specific device, VPN, or client.
  • The European Space Agency's Jupiter spacecraft mission control is powered by Apache Karaf, Apache Maven, and Apache Groovy.
  • Uber's 100-petabyte data lake is powered in near real-time using Apache Hudi.
  • The US Navy uses Apache Rya to power smart drones, autonomous small robot swarms, manned-unmanned team advanced tactical communications, and more.
  • Alibaba uses Apache Flink to process more than 2.5 billion records per second for its merchandise dashboard and real-time customer recommendations.

Meanwhile, the Apache Incubator is housing almost 50 projects in development. These involve technologies as diverse as AI, big data, blockchain, cloud computing, cryptography, deep learning, IOT, machine learning, microservices and visualisation.

According to Sally Khudain, ASF’s VP of marketing and publicity, because the ASF is strictly vendor-neutral, no organisation, including ASF sponsors and those who employ contributors to Apache projects, is able to control an Apache project’s direction, or have special privileges of any kind.

The ASF’s community-focused development process known as 'the Apache Way' was a forerunner in collaborative computing, and has been adopted by vast numbers of organisations including Google, Microsoft, PayPal, SAP and HP.

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