Screaming in the Cloud

This episode features Madelyn Olson, maintainer for the open-source project Valkey, to discuss the growth and impact of open-source projects in the tech industry. Corey and Madelyn explore the transformations within these projects, particularly the challenges and shifts in governance and licensing practices that affect how companies like AWS contribute to and utilize open-source software. Furthermore, Madelyn shares insights into the motivations behind Valkey, its differentiation from Redis, and the broader implications for open-source sustainability and corporate involvement.

Show Highlights: 

(00:00) Introduction and discussion on AWS's approach to open-source
(01:41) Recap of the Redis controversy and licensing changes
(02:35) Madelyn's role at AWS and her work on ElastiCache and MemoryDB
(04:11) The enduring relevance and importance of open source in solving global technology problems
(06:15) The freedoms of open source and the broad implications for software development
(08:19) The evolution of governance and project management in the Valkey project
(09:53) The full transition of Madelyn's efforts from Redis to Valkey
(17:27) Why Valkey was created and its future direction
(24:57) The separation of duties between Madelyn's roles at AWS and the Valkey project
(32:34) Closing thoughts and where to find more information on Valkey

About Madelyn:

Madelyn Olson is a co-creator and maintainer of Valkey, a high-performance kev-value data store and Principal Engineer at Amazon Web Services (AWS). She focuses on building secure and highly reliable features, with a passion for working with open-source communities.

Links Referenced:




What is Screaming in the Cloud?

Screaming in the Cloud with Corey Quinn features conversations with domain experts in the world of Cloud Computing. Topics discussed include AWS, GCP, Azure, Oracle Cloud, and the "why" behind how businesses are coming to think about the Cloud.

Madelyn: I think AWS has made a lot of progress and they really, I think they have a much more nuanced opinion about how they help open source projects. And I, I, for one, appreciate it a lot.

Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn, and I figure it's time to kick an open source beehive. My guest today is Madelyn Olson, who is one of the maintainers of Valkey, which you may know as being a more popularized historically through its proprietary fork known as Redis. Madelyn,

Madelyn: thank you for joining me.

Madelyn: Thank you for inviting me. It's exciting to be here and talk about my favorite topic, open source.

Corey: This episode's been sponsored by our friends at Panoptica, part of Cisco. This is one of those real rarities where it's a security product that you can get started with for free. but also scale to enterprise grade.

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Corey: That's panoptica. app slash last week in AWS. Oh yes, I do want to give a little backstory because it turns out that there are people in this industry who don't spend their entire time on the internet reading about open source project drama and license changes and the rest. Uh, the high level, uh, For those who, for the recap at the beginning of the episode, for those who remember, who don't remember what last season held for us, uh, effectively there was an open source project.

Corey: It was called Redis. It got very popular. A company called Garantia Labs was a service provider around it, wound up becoming Redis Labs, hired the creator of Redis for a few years, bought the copyrights to it, and last year, this year, recently, wound up doing a license pivot so that it is source available.

Corey: Citing that Amazon was going to launch a Redis clone and destroy them so they're not going to be allowed to do that anymore. Have I nailed the salient points?

Madelyn: Uh, yeah, that was the high level points that are important to hit.

Corey: My observation on this is it's a bunch of lunacy. I think Amazon makes a convenient boogeyman.

Corey: We should probably point out as well that by day you are a principal engineer at AWS, where you work on What is it? You work half the time, I think. How does it actually work? I know that you're historically ElastiCache, which needs to be rebranded for ElastiCache for Valkey. Like, I don't care what proprietary fork it was named after.

Corey: Make it Valkey.

Madelyn: Yeah, so my day job historically was working on Amazon ElastiCache, which used to be the managed in memory cache provider for, with compatibility with Redis and Memcache. I got started on working on Redis Open Source about six years ago in 2018. So since then, about half my time has been on Open Source, the other half has been on the managed service.

Madelyn: I want to point out as

Corey: well that there, first, you have ElastiCache, which does, which is a for sale implementation of Valkey. Great. You folks also sell MemoryDB, which is less beloved for a variety of reasons, but it's the less in memory, more persistent datastore version of ElastiCache. And I don't know what these people are worried about.

Corey: You're going to launch a third service that's going to try to compete with them? Oh, good heavens! The community has overwhelmingly gone in the direction of Valkey, when the fork was announced. The Linux Foundation has given you folks a home, as I understand it. And, uh, It is now something that, that this is effectively a schism in the community, except the only people really on their side of this seem to work for the company called Redis.

Madelyn: Right. So, you know, most of the, so before the schism happens, there was five maintainers of the Redis project, two worked for non Redis companies. So there was me from ADBS and a guy named Xiao from Alibaba. And then there were several other very major contributors from companies like Ericsson. From Google and from Huawei, there's also a very important contributor from Tencent.

Madelyn: And all of these folks all just kind of went with Valkey. None of them wanted to continue working on a source available database. So, you know, everyone's sort of on this Valkey train now.

Corey: I have to back up here because in 2024, I think the question has to be asked, Does open source still matter the way that it once did?

Madelyn: Open source definitely matters. Open source is the place to solve problems that, you know, it doesn't make sense for all the different managed, you know, large software companies to solve independently. The reason that Redis was working so well as an open source group is, you know, AWS was willing to come to the table and say, Hey, we have this big problem.

Madelyn: We have this feature we'd like to build in the open source and everyone can have it. And then we can have it in our managed service. You see this play out all over the place. I take a lot of inspiration from the Postgres community, which is a lot of the same thing. A lot of big tech companies all come in and contribute their features and it benefits everyone.

Madelyn: Like there's still a lot of value in this. It's pretty hard for a company to come in and say, Hey, I, you know, we're going to build this thing proprietary better than the rest of the world can build it as a community. I really think these like open groups are. Historically, pretty good at building certain types of open source of software products, of which I think databases is one of them.

Corey: I think that there have been a few things that have been conflated across the board. The first is that open source has been mistaken for a business model by a bunch of folks. And two, it was assumed originally, which made sense at the time, that, oh, well, we're the folks that built this software. Clearly, we're the ones best positioned to operate and run it for folks.

Corey: Well, cloud providers have turned that a bit on its head, and I can understand, on some level, it feels galling when work you have done, effectively volunteering for, now is being turned around and sold for a profit, and you see absolutely none of it other than representatives of that company showing up in the various community areas to make borderline demands about feature requests and whatnot.

Corey: That can be irksome. I get it. But I don't think that Amazon did anything wrong in this case. I have a litany of things I think Amazon does wrong, in case anyone is thinking I'm somehow shilling for the company here. But this isn't one. The licenses have been very clear. Open source means that any person or entity can take, use, and in some cases have to contribute the code back.

Corey: There's no carve out for, except for these types of companies, because that's not how it works. That's no longer open.

Madelyn: Yeah, and that's really in the spirit of open source. Like, you know, sometimes we just talk about open source licensing, but there's also like free, as in freedoms, open source. That's the thing.

Madelyn: Anyone can go take the software and do whatever they want with it. And we see a lot of good come out of these very free open source projects. And Redis had originally launched as not a very liberal open source license. A lot of the reasons it's become so popular is people can take it, modify it a bit, to solve their specific use cases, and, you know, build it as, you know, build it as a product, build it as a project, like, build it as whatever they want.

Madelyn: So, you know, to your point, like, that's why open source works so well. It's like, people can do whatever they want with it. So, it makes sense that people would kind of feel bad about, you know, people doing not exactly what you want with it, but You're right. That's what the license is for.

Corey: An open source project is not a for profit entity.

Corey: It is not built with the idea of how do we monetize this thing directly. If you want to start something like that, it's usually called a company. And the fact that, oh, well, we've now done this thing. How do we turn it into money is not really a problem for the open source world. Though it's increasingly becoming one with a lot of these license forks.

Corey: I do not believe that these companies are doing anything, uh, illegal. I am not a lawyer. Talk to one, please. I, this is not legal advice, my god. But they're not doing anything even morally wrong, necessarily. By, by, by switching these licenses over, but they are violating an unspoken social contract that has historically existed.

Corey: And I know that when a company does something like that, but they have other stuff that is open, I am a lot less likely to contribute to any of those things going forward. If it has a contributor, a contribute, a CAL, one of those contributor authorization licenses, I forget the exact acronym.

Madelyn: CLA.

Madelyn: Contributor License Agreement. The

Corey: CLA, the

Madelyn: CLA's.

Corey: Yes, the contributor license agreement, you sign copyright over and the rest, and it's, okay, at this point this feels too much like work and you can start paying me to do it. Now, I am not a good developer. Frankly, that's a feature, not a bug. Oh, Corey won't contribute to the project if we do this?

Corey: Where do we sign up? Not really the direction I'm trying to take it in, but it's, uh, That's something that I think is going to have a chilling effect on the next generation of things. I don't volunteer for for profit entities and I don't let people volunteer for mine. I am curious about Valkey and the governance model going forward.

Corey: You work at AWS, obviously. And I, I am sympathetic to the viewpoint that, well, Amazon is the worst possible spokesperson for open source good behavior. But, and I think a lot of the criticisms that were levied at Amazon, well, yeah, it doesn't feel great when the multi trillion dollar company is monetizing everyone else's work as services.

Corey: They have started doing a lot of the work over the last few years. To the point where those accusations feel increasingly dated. What I find curious is when I start talking to random folks who are working on open source projects of varying sizes, they'll say, oh yeah, we're getting sponsored by AWS, they're just giving us a bunch of credits to run the infrastructure for the project, and they're asked whether they're having developers contribute stuff to it.

Corey: Amazon has never been particularly good at telling its own story. They're Their marketing mumbles. So, and I don't know how to fix that other than every time we give 1, 000 to a project, we're going to spend 10, 000 more telling the world that we did it, which is sort of the wrong behavior pattern as well.

Corey: So I am sympathetic to this, but I want it to be clear since I've, I've done some digging into this that I assure you I would not be saying this were it not true. Valkey is not an AWS project. They are sponsoring the project in the form of I don't know, paying your salary to work on this thing, but they have no ownership rights.

Corey: The, the, those have been given to the Linux Foundation, which is a separate kettle of debate. We can have a different time. They're doing the right thing here, as best I can tell.

Madelyn: Honestly, I'm really happy with the way AWS has been enabling the Valkey project. As you said, they're primarily sponsoring it through, you know, supporting me so that I can spend my entire time on the project.

Madelyn: I mentioned earlier, I spend about half my time on Redis, I spend all my time on Valkey. And they've also been doing a lot of the right things with like, you know, helping us get to, we went, we visited the Open Source Summit, uh, in Seattle recently, they helped provide the mechanics that we could show up.

Madelyn: And they were very good at taking a step back and being like, hey, like, this isn't an AWS project, we're just helping you get into the room. As you said, like, This is a Linux Foundation project. This is not an AWS fork. AWS does not own the IP or any of the licensing. This is all in the Linux Foundation, which is a non for profit company or organization to help open source projects.

Madelyn: Balky is an open source project and it is very much community driven. There is a six member technical steering committee, of which only one person is in from AWS, myself. And they're doing a really good job just, you know, being there to help the community, but not trying to step in and direct the community and telling it what to do.

Madelyn: And you're definitely right that I think AWS has made a lot of progress and they really, I think they have a much more nuanced opinion about how they help open source projects and I, I for one appreciate it a lot. Like I, I'm only working at AWS because of the way they've helped me, you know, You know, work on an open source project.

Corey: I have to ask this question because I, I feel like it almost becomes counterproductive at some point when companies do it. But every open source project that, that goes through one of these license switches, there's been a smell around the project for years beforehand, before that shift happens. And what that manifests as to me is when there are a number of features That are not brought into the open source project because they would explicitly compete with one of the sponsoring company's financial, uh, goals.

Corey: And I think there's an analytics offering for, uh, for Valkey, which, for Redis, technically, which has never been open sourced as a result as one example of this.

Madelyn: Yeah, so there's actually a lot of features that people have asked for from Redis that we got a lot of pushback for from, you know, because there was a technical steering committee.

Madelyn: We got a lot of pushback. Because they, you know, officially the comment was, Oh, it's not, it's too complicated, we don't want it. But it's possible that that was part of the reason, this sort of like pushback from the corporate competition. And I can say that now with Valkey, it will become much easier to contribute a lot of these big, exciting features.

Madelyn: One of the big things we're working on is, you know, active active replication, which was a big feature that people asked for Redis that got pushed back from. There's also a lot of interest in a lot of the extensibility stuff that Rez has, like JSON support, like search support. And we are, you know, engaging with the community to figure out, you know, what's the best way to build that?

Madelyn: How do people want that? And we're trying to, you know, make the Valkey project more of what We think the community really wants it in a way that, you know, the res community didn't want to.

Corey: I am personally excited about the active active replication piece. In my last real job, uh, seven years ago now, uh, the one time that I got paged on a weekend because I care very much about not having my family time disrupted was when it was due to an ElastiCache challenge where I don't believe there was anything that AWS themselves had done, but we were pointing at one of the replica members instead of the virtual IP post maintenance.

Corey: Then there was a changeover where, oh, time to take the, you folks took the thing down for maintenance, which you're entitled to do, and suddenly you could no longer send writes to that thing. Which meant that a whole bunch of stuff that we had broke. Now there were a number of contributing factors to this, but on some level, if we just had the one endpoint we could have pointed to that always would have been the, this is where writes always go and reads and it's fine, it feels like that would have solved some of the problem.

Corey: We would have been pointing to a cluster member if everything can take writes. That would have been glorious. Uh, past me would have appreciated it.

Madelyn: I will say, ValkeyCluster, the topology discovery should enable you to figure out what the correct writer is, even if you're talking to the wrong node. So it sounds like you were using the old Valkey standalone type of configuration.

Corey: This was 2015. So it was one of the, 2015 2016, and it was on a, I think a Older version that was running in ElastiCache. I, I, the details have escaped me. Again, there were many of misconfiguration that were done internally. This was not something I'm blaming you folks for. Like any reasonable issue, there are going to be a number of contributing factors to it.

Corey: It's not, Oh, Ted was dumb. Ted is always going to be dumb. How do you make sure that one person being dumb doesn't cause larger challenges?

Madelyn: Oh, I fully agree. And I will say, so at 2015, that was about the time that Redis released cluster mode, which does solve this problem, but you As you said, at the time, you probably weren't using it.

Madelyn: So today, hindsight, well, even hindsight, it didn't really, it wasn't really production ready yet.

Corey: No, I, I would argue most of my code has never become production ready, but that's a separate argument and, you know, personal attack stuff on myself. Do you find it strange to be effectively spending all of your time doing open source work for, that is done in the, in the public eye, uh, while Having a full time job at a company, because every time I've done stuff like that, uh, when I've been at more normal jobs than this, and I spent significant amounts of time working on open source projects, it felt like I was slacking off somehow.

Corey: Like I may as well have been playing World of Warcraft or something as far as my boss was concerned. Now, these are different times, and AWS is a more enlightened company than that, and clearly you're not doing something wrong here. But does it ever feel weird to you?

Madelyn: I think it used to feel weird. It took me a lot, like I was a big, I got into the Redis community trying to contribute TLS.

Madelyn: And so at the time there was alignment between what AWS wanted and what the open source community wanted. And so I've always found that to be like the secret sauce to being able to work a lot in open source. You just have to convince, you know, the leadership, like, hey, this contributing to open source is aligned with your business interests.

Madelyn: And then it becomes so much easier to just kind of go work in open source, because, you know, the better the original thinking was, the better that Redis was, the better Amazon Redis was, and the same is true are going to be about Valkeyrie. You know, we want Valkeyrie to be as good of a product as possible, because Atomis has indicated their intent to support it, and we would like to make it as good of a product as possible.

Madelyn: So, you know, I also do have a, I do tend, I work a lot. I'm a workaholic. I work like 50 hours a week, but I try to, during nine to five, I try to make sure I'm working on the important parts, like the real job stuff. And then the other 10 hours I spend a bunch of time, you know, making off brand Valkey stickers, which, you know, is part of the important for the community, but maybe not exactly the top priority for Amazon.

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Corey: app to get started. The wisdom that I heard from someone somewhat recently, which I wish I'd heard decades ago, was that if you're one of those people that can't walk away from work, make sure that the things you do outside of the core hours are things that give you energy and that you really enjoy doing, because otherwise it just becomes miserable.

Madelyn: I follow that to a T. Like I, like outside, as soon as like five o'clock rolls around, well a little bit earlier, I'm a morninging person. But like, as soon as like 4 o'clock rolls around, I kind of like go read esoteric database papers about improving hash table performance by like 2%. That's what makes me happy.

Corey: That would be significant at scale. It would be. Yeah, I mean, you're also, I'm speaking to someone who, honestly, one of the most valuable things that I do for the business from time to time is fire up my Twitter client, which is insane, but also true. I have to ask, though, my negative reaction to Redis going source available instead of its historical open source roots.

Corey: has been negative, but that negative reaction has been largely emotional, which is usually not a reason to go ahead and do various business things. So, you know, from a more objective perspective, other than offending my personal sense of rightness here, why did you create Valkey?

Madelyn: As I said, alluded to a little bit earlier, the res community had been very technologically conservative.

Madelyn: They've been very slow moving, they didn't want to implement a lot of features, they were very hesitant to like increase the number of maintainers to like allow for more contributions. And there's actually a very big backlog of features, like the active active replication we talked about, that no one was really contributing.

Madelyn: And now that we have Valkey, like, I'm very intent to sort of grow the number of maintainers. We have a lot of contributors. We've had, you know, 52 ish total contributors so far to Valkey in the last two months. And we're hoping that we're going to have a much higher velocity of development. And, you know, as I said, a lot of the major contributors moved from Redis to Valkeyrie.

Madelyn: And like, that's where we really see our differentiation kind of coming along. We have a lot of features planned. We're planning on building significant performance improvements, things that Redis has long said they don't really want to mess too much with. Uh, we also have like big improvements to stability and reliability.

Madelyn: We also want to build all those extensions we talked about. We think there'll be a lot of functionality. And the other thing is just, it's going to be, it's like sort of, We're hoping it, we're hoping for it to become basically the standard, right? We're looking, there's a huge amount of support from other companies.

Madelyn: We have so many supporters of Valkey, like Ivan, and Percona, and GCP, and Oracle, and Heroku, and Ericsson, like there's all these companies coming behind it.

Corey: And these are companies that normally do not collaborate much on things. They are, uh, I don't know what the corporate equivalent of sworn blood enemy is, but, but they're that.

Madelyn: Correct, yeah, like, they're not typical companies that like, like to get together. And so we're really hoping, like, all that will come together just to, to be a better product. And at the end of the day, that's what people want. They want something that works well, that's highly available, that's highly performant.

Madelyn: Like, that's what, that's what Valkeyrie's gonna be.

Corey: Yeah, one of the ways I've always viewed it has been that if, if I'm working on something that other people can take advantage of in their workplaces, terrific, great, awesome, I have no, I have nothing against open source, the, at some point, though, if I'm starting to implement things specifically for you and your, your use case, okay, great, now it's time to probably pay me to do those things, because, you know, At that point, it is no longer something that benefits everyone, it's something that benefits you individually.

Corey: I periodically find developers behind open source projects that I'm using if I need something specific done for me, and I'll pay them for that thing, but invariably, as that happens, there will be pull requests made to the, uh, made to the upstream project, and sure enough, a lot of those things get baked in, and this is a great thing.

Corey: Like, I feel like sometimes they're surprised that I take that perspective, it's, If I'm sponsoring upstream development from this, terrific. Or if you're doing it separately, great, that's fine too. Please, keep going. That's the whole reason that we have an open source culture. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.

Corey: In fact, you're one of those giants for a lot of people now, whether you like it or not.

Madelyn: Yeah, I fully agree with that. Like, I'm like one of the reasons that I'm, you know, I'm an engineer. I'm an introvert. I don't, you know, I like talking with people, but if I could have my way, I'd be hiding most of the time.

Madelyn: But we're trying to find people like that people that, you know, want to contribute to Valkeyrie. And like, if you have these things that, you know, if someone's proposing, you know, a minor improvement, that's very specific to a niche use case, we'll probably still accept it, we still want it. Someone else somewhere in the world probably, you know, would also like that improvement.

Madelyn: So that's what I really love about open source is there's all these, you know, individual niche things that sort of come together to just be better than the sum of their parts.

Corey: One of the challenges I've had with open source and one of the reasons I stepped away from a lot of it has been the first, the untitled, the unsettled expectation that everyone has on it.

Corey: For example of, great, well, I'm using this in production for my business and there's a problem with it. So you wake up and fix it immediately. That's not a great attitude to take toward these things, for one. And for another, it really does become this obnoxious thing where you have so many folks who are, I guess, caught up in a variety of different challenges and going on.

Corey: It always seems like it's a PTA meeting. When it comes to open source governance, where everyone's arguing with each other constantly, it becomes more work to keep the project functioning than it feels like value is getting derived from it from time to time. And that's usually my cue that when I start feeling like that, it's time to walk away.

Corey: How do you avoid that problem? Because clearly, you're still way into it, and I have backed so far away, people are often surprised to learn I have a history with open source.

Madelyn: I am a very tenacious person. So the history with me and TLS that I mentioned earlier, like that was my big, big, big contribution.

Madelyn: It took me two and a half years. to get TLS into open source Redis. And that was just because I'm a very stubborn person. Like, I am gonna keep trying to make something work. And you know, I've had a lot of frustrations with getting stuff into the Redis open source after the transition to the open governance.

Madelyn: And, you know, Valkeyrie's only been going along two months and we're still a little bit in the honey, honeymoon phase, but like everything is great because we have all these features we want to build. Everyone's sort of like, You know, we have all these things that everyone kind of all agrees these are good things.

Madelyn: But we're trying to build a system so that it works well in the long term. We have a contributor summit that's going to be next week, June 6th and the 7th, where we're going to get all of the kind of core maintainers together, a lot of the major contributors together. And we're trying to, you know, get all together to figure out like, how do we maintain, how do we make this a project that's maintainable for the long term?

Madelyn: And I don't have a lot of answers right now. I mentioned, you know, before we started chatting that I'm actually at pgconf. dev to sort of figure out how Postgres is sort of, you know, not tearing itself apart. And I'm still not entirely sure how we're gonna not tear ourselves apart. But I'm, I'm hopeful.

Madelyn: Like, I believe that if you are willing to lean in and invest in an open community that you will, you will get returns back from it. It's just sort of the thing you have to, you have to kind of have some faith for. And, um, I guess I'm just an internal optimist, and I'll keep hoping that it'll work out well.

Madelyn: And it's worked out well so far, so I'm gonna just keep hoping.

Corey: One last question I have for you on this, and if you can't answer it, I completely understand that. But I have to imagine that there is some sort of internal process that winds up taking whatever the latest released version of Valkey is and turning it into ElastiCache.

Corey: There's a whole bunch of stuff that has to happen to Amazonify the service. There's probably a security review, et cetera, et cetera. It's not just a press the deploy button, go to lunch and assume everything is great. How do you separate out whatever, whatever hooks into the upstream project would make a lot of that stuff easier for your employer?

Corey: from, from what you're doing on behalf of the project. Not necessarily that there are inherent misalignments there, but there's always going to be a choice at some level of do we do this in a way that's easier for the community versus easier for Amazon themselves. How do you, do you have a framework for that?

Madelyn: Yeah, so I mean that's normally, when people say they're like wearing two hats, so like I have my Amazon hat and I have my open source hat, and I try to just make it very clear that when I'm stating an opinion, it's for one of those two, like, positions. When I'm accepting something as a maintainer for Valkeyrie, I'm wearing my open source hat.

Madelyn: Like, is this a good contribution for the project? And I'll make it clear that when I'm advocating for a feature in open source to the other maintainers, that I'm saying, hey, on behalf of AWS, this is a feature I think would be useful. And that's it. You know, in an abstract sense, that's this pipeline you talked about, you know, makes Amazon a customer, in a sense.

Madelyn: We like to talk about customer obsession. We're a customer of the open source project. So we do have a valid claim to be like, hey, we would like this feature. And so, and then so do all the other IT vendors that have Redis services, or hopefully soon Docky services, and they can go say the same thing. We were talking a bit recently in open source how there's, you know, a certain type of, uh, manageability that would be nice to have.

Madelyn: And all the managed services were like, yes, we'd all kind of like this functionality. Um, and even though it's, you know, pretty much a managed service specific feature, it's still, since everyone's still willing to sort of like work and it's like the community buys into the feature, it still, you know, works out well.

Madelyn: So as long as you're just making that distinction very clear, I haven't had too much issue, you know, with people being concerned that I'm like pushing something on behalf of AWS or not.

Corey: I do confess to having been surprised to have learned throughout this drama unfolding that ElastiCache is based on the open source code base.

Corey: What I, I guess what I had assumed is that on some level when you operate at a point of scale that Amazon does, where you no longer really need to have all of the affordances for all the disparate operating environments that an open source project might get used within because you can control all of that.

Corey: It's similar to my criticism historically of Amazon crowing about Graviton for RDS. It's like, it's a SQL endpoint. As long as you respect the SQL API, And return the results that are expected within a price performance window. I don't care if it's Intel, Graviton, Magic Elves, or whatever else is under the hood.

Corey: Just make it work. I just want the behavior to be fine. It could be a black box beyond that. I don't know whether it's the actual open source upstream database engine or a complete re implementation of it in ways that result, create the same results that take advantage of existing substrates within AWS itself.

Corey: I was surprised to learn that it is largely an open source, the open source thing that you would expect running with relatively minor modification.

Madelyn: I don't know if I have much to say about that.

Corey: It's true. No, sorry, I I, I don't mean to put you in a position where you can't, but I was, I was very surprised just from the perspective of why would AWS care about this?

Corey: Was, was where it led, where it led me to, and it's no, because we, we do use the open source thing. This is, that is important to us. And I've talked to a number of engineers, not just you, who, for whom the open source aspect is incredibly important, and it's one of the reasons they work at Amazon.

Madelyn: I, I mean, you know, the open source Redis product was, was pretty good.

Madelyn: It solved a lot of our use cases, and so, you know, we, we found it beneficial to use within our managed service. You know, the more you basically diverge away, like if you have to re implement an open API with a proprietary system, it takes a lot of effort to maintain. Like every time there's a new piece of functionality, it might kind of break the way that you're thinking about the service.

Madelyn: And so there's a lot of benefit to just staying very current to open source. Um, if you're basically providing like an API compatible endpoint. as a service.

Corey: Yeah, and API compatible always needs an asterisk next to it. Every time I talk to a company that says, Oh yeah, we are a 100 percent S3 API compatible.

Corey: It's, are you really? I'm betting you're not. And they're like, yes, we are. And then a quick run of a test suite later shows, No, no, you are not. And that's, you need to be bug for bug compatible. You need to be able to support really weird things that no one knows exist. And the fact that you're not in most of those cases is fine, but be upfront about where those divergences are.

Corey: Yeah. I honestly should have figured this out years ago just because either you are using a lot of these open source things directly or you have a preternaturally good re implementation team. Just, yeah, let's re imagine this and make sure all these weird behaviors work exactly the same way at scale. I wish that people were that dark wizardry there, but in practice, nope.

Corey: I don't think so. I think it's just what you see is pretty much what you'd expect.

Madelyn: Yeah, it's a lot of work to reimplement it. When there's an open source piece of software right there, you can just take off the shelf and use. The great part about open source.

Corey: So I have to ask this. I'm sure people are going to wonder about this.

Corey: By people, I of course mean me. How different is Valkeyrie from Redis? Is it effectively a one to one clone of the exact existing source code at moment of fork, and then effectively reconstituting the exact same governance process, release cadence, etc, etc, etc? Or are you taking this opportunity to change things up about it?

Madelyn: We actually are trying to keep as much as possible. There was a couple of major forks in the community that were doing a bunch of little changes, and we sort of took a very strong stance that we want to keep everything as similar as possible. So the official stable release of Valkeyrie is 7. 2. 5, which is basically a complete fork of Redis 7.

Madelyn: 2, with a couple of extra compatibility APIs. So Redis, the development tree was actually a good bit ahead of that. There was about another six ish months of development. So we also forked all of that, and that's going to go into our Valkey 8 release. So that's sort of the compatibility that we're sort of seeing.

Madelyn: And besides that, we kept the governance pretty much the same. In Redis, there's a five member core team. We now have a six member technical steering committee. We are keeping a lot of the nuances of Redis's design. The same as well, we plan on continuing to do the even number of releases. Redis was sort of known for doing like 6.

Madelyn: We'll also do, you know, if we were going to do another 7 release, we would have done 7. 4, 8. 2. But we are changing some things. Like, you know, one thing that we added unit tests, which is a kind of a minor unimportant thing, but it's something that we never had before in open source Redis. But that was one of the things we added.

Madelyn: We added a formatter because we finally got sick of people nitpicking, being like, you should put a space here. But we could never get consensus before to add one. So there's some of that type stuff. And then, you know, the, the culture of pretty technologically conservative, um, being technologically conservative as well.

Madelyn: Like we're, we're, we're pushing a lot more into the performance realm than we were kind of before. And we're willing to rethink a lot of the core assumptions of that REST, which I think we weren't willing to do before.

Corey: It's always a tricky balance. I'm extraordinarily conservative when it comes to file systems, databases, security, fire safety, you know, the things that are going to have massive repercussions if they go wrong.

Corey: I'm willing to play around in my dev environment with all kinds of ridiculous nonsense, but when it comes time to, and now, by day job, back when I worked at a giant, Add the world's largest asset manager. It's okay. Mistakes on this stuff. We'll absolutely show why don't we act like the grownups? We, at least in my case, pretend to be so there's always a tricky balancing act, but you can't hold still so long that everything becomes ossified.

Corey: There are no right answers. Just a question. How do you want to be wrong?

Madelyn: Right. I mean, we're still struggling to figure out kind of where is the balance of that is a lot of people put Redis is like, that's like their main data endpoint for like, real time like end user applications where if there's any degradation like it's very obvious that something's wrong so we're taking that very seriously but at the same time like other databases are you know you know there's like 10 years of innovation like hash tables and tcp pack like processing and network processing like all that stuff we really haven't added much to reddit and you know we can't We don't want to just sit around.

Madelyn: There's other forks of rice that are also starting to invest in all this technology and like they're going to do it too. So we, we need to sort of be on top of all of that. So it's hard to balance that. Um, but we're still trying to figure it out. Like the best defense we have is, you know, lots of testing.

Madelyn: We have a lot of really smart people that we have on the project. Um, and we're really hoping we'll be able to, you know, build a really robust, you know, test suite to make sure everything is still working exactly as it should be. You know, bug for bug compatible. We're really good at not breaking APIs.

Madelyn: Like, one of the big things Redis does, like, basically never deprecated APIs. They never removed APIs. And we kind of intend to do the same thing.

Corey: That's very Amazonian of you.

Madelyn: I know. Yeah. Never release a new version. Keep maintaining stuff forever.

Corey: Ugh. No, it's I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

Corey: It's definitely one of those things that is going to be of significant interest to an awful lot of people. If people want to keep an eye on it or participate themselves, where's the best place for them to find you?

Madelyn: So yeah, we have, you know, Twitter, you can follow me on Twitter. Uh, you can follow, there's a Valkey I O Twitter.

Madelyn: We also, I'm very active on LinkedIn at the moment. There's a lot of updates. Uh, you, you should expect an update in a couple, couple of weeks. I mentioned a contributor summit. We're hoping to basically say, Hey, here's the six to 12 month roadmap for Valkey. It's still a little bit tentative right now. I think in a couple of weeks, we'll have like, Hey, this is the thing.

Madelyn: And it'll be obvious. You'll find a bunch of posts about, there'll be a blog post about it. There's officially a blog at falki. io. You can also go check out that. That should include a lot of the relevant up to date information. Um, other than that, GitHub is a great place if you're looking for, you know, the latest release.

Madelyn: Yeah, if you're interested in contributing, that's a good place to go as well.

Corey: And we will, of course, put links to all of that in the show notes. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. I appreciate it. Thanks for spending the time. It was a great conversation. Madelyn Olson, Valkey Maintainer and Technical Steering Committee member.

Corey: I'm Cloud Economist Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five star review on your podcast platform of choice. Whereas if you hated this podcast, please leave a 5 star review on your podcast platform of choice, along with an angry comment in which you replace the title of the episode with your name and claim that you created the episode.