The Apache Software Foundation Blog

Tuesday March 26, 2019

The Apache® Software Foundation Celebrates 20 Years of Community-led Development "The Apache Way"

[click for "ASF at 20" promo]

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.

Wakefield, MA —26 March 2019— 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 publicly-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.

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 ; 9M+ 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.

Powered by Apache

"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.

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."  

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
For more information and to register, visit and ApacheCon video.

"My Apache journey started in the Apache HTTP core development team in 1995, fixing security issues and continues today as VP of Security," said ASF co-founder Mark Cox. "In the years between, Apache has inextricably intertwined my professional career and my personal life. I'm proud to be part of the ASF as we move past 20 years and look forward to a celebration (hopefully with cake) at ApacheCon in September."

"Happy Birthday, Apache Group!" echoed ASF co-founder Bill Stoddard.

Support Apache
As a United States private, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization, the ASF relies on charitable donations to advance the future of open development. The ASF is sustained by through tax-deductible contributions from generous corporations, foundations, and individuals, whose contributions help offset day-to-day operating expenses that include bandwidth, connectivity, servers, hardware, legal counsel, accounting services, trademark protection, public relations, marketing, and related support staff. Less than 10% is spent on overhead.

The Apache Software Foundation plans to continue to innovate "The Apache Way" with new Open Source projects and communities for years to come. Donations to the ASF help keep Apache software available to everyone.

- "From our first contributions to The Apache Software Foundation in 2006 until today, the ASF has been teaching us and everyone how to do community driven Open Source. We thank the ASF, their communities and all who have been involved! Congratulations on 20 years of volunteer-led service, and the many accomplishments with code and community. We look forward to collaborating on the next 20." –Adrian Cockcroft, VP Cloud Strategy at AWS

- "The Apache Software Foundation and OSI both turned 20 recently. As two of the founding organizations of the Open Source community, they are fundamental to its growth and success. The Apache Way ensures all participants have equal representation and footing, and developers are valued based on their contributions' merits. Bloomberg developers first got involved as Open Source community collaborators and contributors seven years ago, and we've been involved with – and a sponsor of – the ASF almost this entire time, as it’s the home of dozens of projects that are incredibly important to us." –Kevin Fleming, Head of Open Source Community Engagement and Member of the CTO Office at Bloomberg

- "Congratulations to The Apache Software Foundation on 20 years of ground-breaking software development and Open Source community leadership. The ASF has provided value to Cerner for more than 15 years through innovative projects and rich communities. We can count on the ASF to be the source of high-quality, foundational software and to provide a collaborative community that makes it easy for our engineers to grow." –Nathan Beyer, VP & Chief Engineer at Cerner, and ASF Member

- "The Apache Software Foundation provides a fertile home for software communities. The Foundation’s unique approach has created many industry standards and will likely continue to do so for many more years. Apache projects are famous not just for great technology, but for their longevity and vendor-independence. Cloudera looks forward to continuing to collaborate with others at Apache for decades to come." –Doug Cutting, Chief Architect at Cloudera

- "Datadog is a proud sponsor of The Apache Software Foundation. What an amazing journey it's been, from a small group of developers working on httpd to a foundation that stewards some truly amazing Open Source projects. As a consumer and contributor to many of those projects, it's difficult to understate the impact they've had; not only on us but on the software industry as a whole. Congratulations on 20 years!" –Jeremy Garcia, Director of Technical Community and Open Source at Datadog

- "After twenty years of practicing Open Source law, I appreciate how critical The Apache Software Foundation has been to the success of the OSS ecosystem. I am honored to work with the Foundation and its members." –Mark Radcliffe, Partner at DLA Piper 

- "We look forward to another 20 years of Open Source software with The Apache Software Foundation! We were excited to be one of the first corporate members in 2005, and even more excited to select the Apache license for Android in 2008. There's very few organizations that have shown the persistent dedication to Open Source the way that the ASF has and we're proud to be a part of it as a sponsor and to have so many of our engineers contributing to Apache projects." –Chris DiBona, Director of Open Source at Google

- "From an auspicious launch with the Apache HTTP Server to over 350 projects today, Apache continues to drive innovation in the industry and IBM is proud to have supported its founding. With dozens new projects coming to the ASF each year, from Artificial Intelligence to Deep Learning, Big Data, Cloud Computing, DevOps, IoT and Edge Computing, Mobile, Servers, and Web Frameworks, The Apache Software Foundation is an anchor for world-changing Open Source projects. We look forward to continued contributions and collaboration for many years to come." –Todd Moore, Vice President of Open Technology and Developer Advocacy at IBM

- "It's an honor and a privilege to help Apache, an organization so deeply ingrained in the history and growth of the Internet, fundraise online. Congratulations on 20 years, and cheers to the next 20!" –Alex Morse, CEO at Hopsie

- "Congratulations on ASF's 20th Anniversary! The mission of ASF is to provide software for the public good. Modern technology development is based on extensive collaboration. Our goal is to build the open ICT solution for global customers through collaboration with ecosystem partners. In the spirit of The Apache Way, Huawei actively participated in the ASF, contributed two, now Top-Level, projects: Apache CarbonData and Apache ServiceComb. We appreciate the community culture of ASF, and we thank ASF for making a healthy Open Source software ecosystem a reality." –Evan Xiao, VP of Strategy and Industry Development at Huawei Technologies

- "Leaseweb has been using Apache/ASF projects for a multitude of products and services over the last 20 years. The ASF is responsible for a mindboggling amount of Open Source projects that truly make up the fabric of the Internet. For Leaseweb, the ASF is in the core of many of our Cloud and Hosting platforms. Apart from helping out with our Platinum Sponsorship, Leaseweb would like to thank all developers and other volunteers in ASF and ASF projects for continuing to build software that makes the Internet what it is today. We’re looking forward to another 20 years of innovation, code, and community – and proud to be a small part of that." –Robert van der Meulen, Global Product Strategy Lead at Leaseweb

- "Twenty years ago the ASF's vendor neutral model of Open Source software development was central to the commercialization of the World Wide Web and has continued to accelerate innovation across the IT industry since then. At Microsoft we are committed to ensuring that Azure is the best cloud platform for our partners and customers. A key aspect of delivering on this goal is to contribute to the success of Open Source projects. The ASF's emphasis on vendor neutrality, is key to the success of many Open Source components used by both Microsoft and our partners. Happy Birthday to The Apache Software Foundation." –John Gossman, Lead Architect of Microsoft Azure 

- "The Apache Software Foundation has provided stewardship for much of the modern Internet, from the Apache Web Server itself to cutting edge infrastructure and data science technologies such as Kafka and Hadoop. No-IP is built on Open Source software. It is important for us to support Open Source projects and the Apache Foundation has made it easy to give back. We look forward to the Foundation's future work and wise guidance and we are proud to be associated with it." –Dan Durrer, CEO and Owner of No-IP

- " joins the world in celebrating 20 years of Open Source Software from The Apache Software Foundation. Happy Birthday!" –Kevin A. McGrail, CEO Emeritus of Peregrine Computer Consultants Corporation

- "More than being Open Source, Apache values transparency and openness with their users, something PureVPN staunchly believes in, advocates, and follows. Supporting Apache gives us the opportunity to align ourselves with an amazing team of people that makes a difference in the lives of individuals on a daily basis." –Uzair Gadit, CEO at PureVPN

- "The Apache Software Foundation has been a great help in pushing the Open Source agenda to a wide range of individuals, communities, and vendors over the years. Their approach to meritocracy and community-driven development has helped to shape some world class Open Source projects which have gone on to help drive some world-class products and businesses. Keep it up and here's to the next 20 years!" –Mark Little, VP Engineering and CTO JBoss Middleware at Red Hat

- "Tencent Cloud is proud to be the first platinum sponsor of The Apache Software Foundation from China. In years of supporting with Open Source communities, we found Apache is one of the best places to drive great innovations for industry of AI, Big Data, Cloud Computing, DevOps, Edge Computing, IoT, etc. We would like to thank ASF for its outstanding contributions to Open Source world, and celebrate its 20th Anniversary of Open Source collaboration. Tencent Cloud will stand together with ASF and looks forward to long term contributions and collaborations." –Huixing Wang, Vice President of Tencent Cloud

- "The Apache Software Foundation is among the brightest beacons in the global Open Source movement. HotWax is proud to recognize the ASF for harnessing transparency and meritocracy to generate some of the highest quality and most widely used code in the world, for decades now! Happy 20th -- we are honored to be a part of the community." –Mike Bates, CEO, HotWax Systems

- "Contributing to The Apache Software Foundation projects continues to be part of our engineering strategy." –Gil Yehuda, Senior Director of Open Source at Verizon Media


About The Apache Software Foundation (ASF)
Established in 1999, the all-volunteer Foundation oversees more than 350 leading Open Source projects, including Apache HTTP Server —the world's most popular Web server software. Through the ASF's merit-based process known as "The Apache Way," more than 730 individual Members and 7,000 Committers across six continents successfully collaborate to develop freely available enterprise-grade software, benefiting billions of users worldwide: thousands of software solutions are distributed under the Apache License; and the community actively participates in ASF mailing lists, mentoring initiatives, and ApacheCon, the Foundation's official user conference, trainings, and expo. The ASF is a US 501(c)(3) charitable organization, funded by individual donations and corporate sponsors including Aetna, Alibaba Cloud Computing, Anonymous, ARM, Baidu, Bloomberg, Budget Direct, Capital One, Cerner, Cloudera, Comcast, Facebook, Google, Handshake, Hortonworks, Huawei, IBM, Indeed, Inspur, Leaseweb, Microsoft, ODPi, Pineapple Fund, Pivotal, Private Internet Access, Red Hat, Target, Tencent, Union Investment, Workday, and Verizon Media. For more information, visit and

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20 Years of Open Source Innovation, The Apache Way

by Jim Jagielski and Sally Khudairi

As the world's largest and one of the most influential Open Source foundations, The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is home to more than 350 community-led projects and initiatives. The ASF's 731 individual Members and more than 7,000 Committers are global, diverse, and often embodies a case of collective humility. We've assembled a list of 20 ubiquitous and up-and-coming Apache projects to celebrate the ASF's 20th Anniversary on 26 March 2019, applaud our all-volunteer community, and thank the billions of users who benefit from their Herculean efforts.

1. Apache HTTP Server

The most popular Open Source HTTP server on the planet shot to fame just 13 months from its inception in 1995, and remains so today due to its ability to provide a secure, efficient and extensible server that provides HTTP services observing the latest HTTP standards. Serving modern operating systems including UNIX, Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS/X, the Apache HTTP Server played a key role in the initial growth of the World Wide Web; its rapid adoption over all other Web servers combined was also instrumental to the wide proliferation of eCommerce sites and solutions. The Apache HTTP Server project was the ASF's flagship project at its launch, and served as the basis upon which future Apache projects emulated with its open, community-driven, merit-based development process known as "The Apache Way".

2. Apache Incubator

The Apache Incubator is the ASF's nexus for innovation, serving as the entry path for projects and codebases wishing to officially become part of the efforts at The Apache Software Foundation. All code donations from external organizations and existing external projects go through the incubation process to ensure all donations are in accordance with the ASF legal standards, and develop diverse communities that adhere to the ASF's guiding principles. Incubation is required of newly accepted projects until their infrastructure, communications, and decision making process have stabilized in a manner consistent with other successful ASF projects. Whilst incubation is neither a reflection of the completeness or stability of the code, nor does it indicate that the project has yet to be fully endorsed by the ASF, its rigorous process of mentoring projects and their communities according to "The Apache Way" has led to the graduation of nearly 200 projects in the Incubator's 16-year history. Today 51 "podlings" are undergoing development in the Apache Incubator across an array of categories, including annotation, artificial intelligence, Big Data, cryptography, data science/storage/visualization, development environments, Edge and IoT, email, JavaEE, libraries, machine learning, serverless computing, and more.

3. Apache Kafka
Big Data.

The Apache footprint as the foundation of the Big Data ecosystem continues to grow, from Accumulo to Hadoop to ZooKeeper, with fifty active projects to date and two dozen more in the Apache Incubator. Apache Kafka's highly-performant distributed, fault tolerant, real-time publish-subscribe messaging platform powers Big Data solutions at Airbnb, LinkedIn, MailChimp, Netflix, The New York Times, Oracle, PayPal, Pinterest, Spotify, Twitter, Uber, Wikimedia Foundation, and countless other businesses.

4. Apache Maven
Build Management.

Spinning out of the Apache Turbine servlet framework project in 2004, Apache Maven has risen to the top as the hugely popular build automation tool that helps Java developers build and release software. Stable, flexible, and feature-rich, Maven streamlines continuous builds, integration, testing, and delivery processes with an impressive central repository and robust plug-in ecosystem, making it the go-to choice for developers who want to easily manage a project’s build, reporting, and documentation.

5. Apache CloudStack
Cloud Computing.

Super-quick to deploy, well-documented, and with an easy production environment, one of the biggest draws to Apache CloudStack is that it "just works". Powering some of the industry's most visible Clouds –from global hosting providers to telcos to the Fortune 100 top 5% and more– the CloudStack community is cohesive, agile, and focused, leveraging 11 years of Cloud success to enable users to rapidly and affordably build fully featured clouds.

6. Apache cTAKES

Developed from real-world use at the Mayo Clinic in 2006, cTAKES was created by a team of physicians, computer scientists and software engineers seeking a natural language processing system for extraction of information from electronic medical record clinical free-text. Today Apache cTAKES is an integral part of the Mayo Clinic's electronic medical records and has processed more than 80 million clinical notes. Apache cTAKES is a growing standard for clinical data management infrastructure across hospitals and academic institutions that include Boston Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Pittsburgh, and University of California San Diego, as well as companies such as Wired Informatics.

7. Apache Ignite
Data Management.

Apache Ignite is used for transactional, analytical, and streaming workloads at petabyte scale for the likes of American Airlines, ING, Yahoo Japan and countless others on premises, on cloud platforms, or in hybrid environments. Apache Ignite's in-memory data fabric provides an in-memory data grid, compute grid, streaming, and acceleration solutions across the Apache Big Data system ecosystem, including Apache Cassandra, Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark, and more.

8. Apache CouchDB

Thousands of organizations such as the BBC, GrubHub, and the Large Hadron Collider use Apache CouchDB for seamless data flow between every imaginable computing environment, from globally-distributed server clusters to mobile devices to Web browsers. Its Couch Replication Protocol allows you to store, retrieve, and replicate data safely on premises or on the Cloud with very high performance reliability. Apache CouchDB does all the heavy lifting so you can sit back and relax.

9. Apache Edgent (incubating)
Edge computing.

The boom of IoT –personal assistants, smart phones, smart homes, connected cars, Industry 4.0 and beyond– is producing an ever-growing amount of data streaming from millions of systems, sensors, equipment, vehicles and more. The demand for reliable, efficient real-time data has driven the need for the "Empowered Edge", where data collection and analysis is optimized by moving away from centralized sources towards the edges of of the networks, where much of the data originates. Companies like IBM and SAP are leveraging Apache Edgent to accelerate analytics at the edge across the IoT ecosystem. Apache Edgent can be used in conjunction with many Apache data analytics solutions such as Apache Flink, Apache Kafka, Apache Samza, Apache Spark, Apache Storm, and more.

10. Apache OFBiz
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

Whereas most of the ASF projects are about running or creating infrastructure, we also realize the importance of running and handling a business. Apache OFBiz is a comprehensive suite of business applications from accounting and CRM through Warehousing and Inventory control. The Java based framework provides the power and the flexibility to serve as the core of one's B2B and B2C business management and is easily expandable and customizable. Apache OFBiz is a complete ERP solution, flexible, free, and fully Open Source and services users from United Airlines to Cabi.

11. Apache SIS (Spatial Information System)

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Vietnamese National Space Center, numerous spatial agencies, governments, and others rely on Apache SIS to create their own intelligent, standards-based interoperable geospatial applications. The Apache SIS toolkit handles spatial data, location awareness, geospatial data representation, and provides a unified metadata model for file formats used for real-time smart city visualization, geospatial dataset discovery, state-of-the-art location-enabled emergency management, earth observation, as well as information modeling for extra-terrestrial bodies such as Mars and asteroids.

12. Apache Syncope
Identity Management.

Apache Syncope manages digital identity data in enterprise applications and environments to handle user information such as username, password, first name, last name, email address, etc. Identity management involves considering user attributes, roles, resources and entitlements that control who access to what data, when, how, and why. Apache Syncope users include the Italian Army, the University of Helsinki, University of Milan, and the SWITCH Swiss university network.

13. Apache PLC4X (incubating)
Internet of Things (IoT).

Connectivity and integration across many Industrial IoT edge gateways is often impossible with closed-source, proprietary legacy systems with incompatible protocols. Apache PLC4X provides a universal protocol adapter for creating Industrial IoT applications through a set of libraries that allow unified access to any type of industrial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) using a variety of protocols with a shared API. In addition, the project is planning integrations modular to Apache IoT projects that include Apache Brooklyn, Apache Camel, Edgent, Apache Kafka, Apache Mynewt, and Apache NiFi.

14. Apache Commons

With 42%+ of Apache projects written in Java (that's 62+ million lines of code), having a set of stable, reusable Open Source Java software components available to all Apache projects and external users is both helpful and necessary. Apache Commons provides a suite of dozens of stable, reusable, easily deployed Java components, and a workspace for Commons contributors to collaborate on the development of new components.

15. Apache Spark
Machine Learning.

Big Data is growing exponentially each year, accelerated by industries such as agriculture, big business, FinTech, healthcare, IoT, manufacturing, mobile advertising and more. Apache Spark's unified analytics engine for processing and analyzing large-scale data processing helps data scientists apply machine learning insights and an array of libraries to improve responsiveness more accurate results. Apache Spark runs workloads 100x faster on Apache Hadoop, Apache Mesos, Kubernetes, whether standalone or in the cloud, and to access diverse data sources, from Apache Cassandra, Apache Hadoop HDFS, Apache HBase, Apache Hive, and hundreds of others.

16. Apache Cordova

Apache Cordova is the popular developer tool used to easily build cross-platform, cross-device mobile apps using a Write-Once-Run-Anywhere solution, which enabling developers to create a single app that will appear the same across multiple mobile device platforms. Apache Cordova acts as an extensible container, and serves as the base that most mobile application development tools and frameworks are built upon, including mobile development platforms and commercial software products by Blackberry, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, and many others.

17. Apache Tomcat

Starting off as the Apache JServ project, designed to allow for Java "servlets" to be run in a Web environment, Tomcat grew to being a full-fledged, comprehensive Java Application server and was the de-facto reference implementation for the Java specifications. Since 2005, Apache Tomcat has formed, and still forms, the foundation of numerous Java-based web infrastructures such as eBay, E*Trade, WalMart, and The Weather Channel.

18. Apache Lucene/Solr

Adobe, AOL, Apple, AT&T, Bank of America, Bloomberg, Cisco, Disney, eTrade, Ford, The Guardian, Homeland Security, Instagram, MTV Networks, NASA Planetary Data System, Netflix, SourceForge, Verizon, Walmart,, Zappos, and countless others turn to Apache Lucene Solr to quickly and reliably index and search multiple sites and enterprise data such as documents and email. Popular features include near real-time indexing, automated failover and recovery, rich document parsing and indexing, user-extensible caching, design for high-volume traffic, and much more. 

19. Apache Wicket
Web Framework.

The Apache Wicket component-based Web application framework is prized by many followers for its "Plain Old Java Object" (POJO) data model and markup/logic separation not common in most frameworks. Developers have been using Apache Wicket since 2004 to quickly create powerful, reusable components using object oriented methodology with Java and HTML. Wicket powers thousands of applications and sites for governments, stores, universities, cities, banks, email providers, and more, including Apress, DHL, SAP, Vodafone, and

20. Apache Daffodil (incubating)

Governments handle massive amounts of complex and legacy data across security boundaries every day. In order for such data to be consumed, it must be inspected for correctness and sanitized of malicious data. Whilst traditional inspection methods are often proprietary, incomplete, and poorly maintained, Apache Daffodil streamlines the process with an Open Source implementation of the Data Format Description Language specification (DFDL) that fully describes a wide array of complex and legacy file formats down to the bit level. Daffodil can parse data to XML or JSON to allow for validation, sanitization, and transformation, and also serialize or ''unparse'' back to the original file format, effectively mitigating a large variety of common vulnerabilities.

The Apache Software Foundation is a leader in community-driven open source software and continues to innovate with dozens of new projects and their communities. Apache projects are 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. The commercially-friendly and permissive Apache License v2.0 has become an open source industry standard. As the demand for quality open source software continues to grow, the collective Apache community will continue to rise to the challenge of solving current problems and ideate tomorrow’s opportunities through The Apache Way of open development. Learn more at

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Our Founders look back on 20 Years of the ASF!

We recently connected with eight of the original 21 Founders of The Apache Software Foundation to take a look back at 20 years of the ASF. Joining us are Sameer Parekh Brenn, Mark Cox, Lars Eilebrecht, Jim Jagielski, Aram Mirzadeh, Bill Stoddard, Randy Terbush, and Dirk-Willem van Gulik, who were generous enough to take a walk down memory lane with us.

Q: When did you first get involved with the Apache HTTP Server? What was your role?

 Mark: during my PhD work in 1993 I was creating new features and bug fixes for the NCSA Web server; I'd also found and fixed a number of security issues and was invited by Brian Behlendorf to join the core development team of Apache in April 1995, a few weeks after it was formed.

 Randy: I first got involved through finding a few like minded people that were working with the NCSA Web server. I began exchanging patches and ideas for how to make the NCSA server scale to some of the hosting challenges that we were all facing as commercial use of the Web began to grow. Late 1994 if I remember correctly.

 Dirk: I got involved in the early NCSA Web server days –I was working for a research lab; and we needed specific functionality to allow us to make small geographic subset on huge satellite images available as an 'image'. Something novel at that time –as the normal way to get such images was to fill out a form; fax it and then wait a few months for a large box or container with tapes to arrive. It would then take weeks or months to load up those tapes and extract just the area you needed.

 Jim: in 1995, initially in providing portability patches to Apple's old UNIX operating system, A/UX and then in adding features, fixing bugs and working on the configuration and build system.

 Lars: around 1995 during my studies I developed an interest in Unix and Internet technologies, and in Web servers in particular. I actually set up the first official Web site for the University of Siegen in Germany. Well, we didn't use Apache in the very beginning, but very quickly realized that the Apache HTTP Server is the way forward. I started helping other Apache users in various online forums, and about a year later I was asked by a German publishing company to write about the Apache HTTP Servers which was published in 1998.

 Sameer: I became involved when I perceived a need in the marketplace for an Open Source HTTP server that supported SSL. Ben Laurie had developed Apache-SSL but it was not possible to use it within the United States due to patent restrictions. My company developed a solution.

 Bill: it was 1997, and I had just become Chief Programmer for IBM's proprietary Lotus Domino Go Webserver. LDGW needed a lot of enhancements but the code base was fragile and HTTP servers, by this time, were no longer a source of revenue. Exploring alternatives to continuing development on LDGW, we found that the Apache HTTP Server had almost everything we needed in a rock solid implementation. I can't overstate how big a deal it was in IBM at the time to consider using Open Source software.

 Aram: late 1990s ...I migrated Apache HTTPD v1 to Linux and SCO Unix. I also had the first easy to follow Website dedicated to guiding users on setting up IP-virtual hosts/websites.

Q: How did you get involved with the original Apache Group?

 Dirk: satellite images were both bulky, required complex user interaction to select an area on the map, and someone sensitive from a security perspective; so we needed all sorts of functionality that was not yet common in the NCSA Server, or the more science oriented data server of CERN.

 Randy: I got involved through what was standard operating procedure for me: hunting Usenet for other people that were trying to solve the same challenges I was.

 Aram: I had been sending commits to NCSA and getting rejected when I heard about a bunch of guys leaving to go start a new Web server. I went along a bit after they had started to see if I can get some recognition for Linux and SCO which had been my responsibility at the company I was working for.

 Sameer: I got involved when I began work on our SSL solution.

 Lars: in 1997 I published the first German book about the Apache HTTP Server. When documenting and testing the various features of Apache I ran into some issues and bugs and ended up submitting a fairly large number of bug reports and some patches to the Apache Group. I guess after a while they got tired of all my bug reports and invited me to become a member of the Apache Group... and therefore allowing me to apply the bug fixes myself.

 Bill: the Apache Group's home page indicated that they would welcome company participation in the project. That opened the door for James Barry, an IBM Product Manager, and Yin Ping Shan, an IBM STSM, to contact Brian Behlendorf about IBM's participation in the project. I had the opportunity to meet Brian at IBM in RTP soon after and I was assigned to be the sole IBM developer to participate in the Open Source community. Did I mention how terrified IBM was of Open Source? My ability to work on future proprietary IBM products –and stay employed with IBM– was deemed 'at risk' because of 'contamination'.

Q: When did you first meet other members of the Apache Group in person? How did it feel?

 Sameer: I've known Brian since we were both undergrads at UC Berkeley, so I met him before my involvement in the Group.

 Randy: I first met other members face-to-face when we all gathered at Brian Behlendorf's apartment in San Francisco. Someone else will need to help me with what year that was.

 Bill: ApacheCon 1998 in San Francisco.

 Jim: The first time I met other members was at the first ApacheCon. I was, and still am, located on the East Coast of the US and most of the other members, who were not based in Europe, were on the West Coast, or close to it. What was cool was how despite not meeting each other face-to-face until then, how much it felt like we were old friends.

 Mark: IBM had sponsored a get-together of the team in 1998 in California. We'd only ever communicated by email and so meeting in person really helped us to understand each others motivations and interests as well as set the stage for the legal entity.

[photos attribution (CC BY) Mark Cox. Gallery at]

: the first time I met the members of the Apache Group was at the very first ApacheCon held in San Francisco in 1998. I had just finished my master degree and it was my first trip to the USA. Don't forget to show them the first picture that shows all Apache core developers at ApacheCon 1998!

[photo attribution (CC BY) Mark Cox. Tagged image at ; gallery at]

 Dirk: extremely natural; as if you knew these people for years, which we did at that point. Just a few minutes to adjust to how people looked; and another hour or so to adjust to their particular flavor, accent or dialect of English; something which is not easily apparent for a non-native speaker from their emails. And strangely –from that moment on– reading their emails would ring that accent, that regional voice; while the actual physical appearance would fade quickly.

 Aram: I believe it was a while before I attended an Apache Conference. It was in Florida, before Y2K. It was pretty weird sense of being anonymous (since I didn't have any other online profile) and being known. I sort of hid my name tag inside of my shirt walking around and at the table conference I sort of stood to the side and let the other guys take questions. I'm not sure most of the other developers knew who I was for most of the conference.  Q: What made the Apache Group decide to incorporate the ASF? How quickly was this decision made?

 Jim: as the Internet and the Web started really getting entrenched, we knew that we needed something more legal to protect ourselves. Also, at the time, IBM wanted to use Apache httpd as the basis of their Web server, and they were uncomfortable with the idea of using software from some nebulous, semi-official gathering of people informally called "The Apache Group". So it was a perfect storm situation where we were ready to incorporate and had an ally who could, and did, help us. The decision was reached very quickly.

 Dirk: we relied on the NCSA Server; we were just a bunch of patches on top of their software. So when key staffers left to form what ultimately would become Netscape –we had to consider the options. At the same time; the market was heating up. Apache was becoming quite dominant. Microsoft had entered the fray. The crypto needed for SSL security attracted regulatory attention. Some browser vendors had a hard time keeping up. And I strongly suspected that things like patents where being filed 'on our code'.  Simultaneously –IBM, whose Domino WebServer was rapidly losing market share...and they were looking at Apache–to switch to 'Open Source'. But with NCSA dropping out –there was no clear legal owner of it all. And the impact of the USL vs. AT&T trials over BSD had just started to sink in. So these things; all combined ...and of course the, for me as a European, rather aggressive litigation habits of Americans... conspired and made for a quick decision.

 Randy: we were operational as the Apache HTTPD Server Project for a few years before deciding to incorporate. This was motivated by a number of things. As I remember, some of those motivations were to put in place some legal protections for contributors and the companies that some of us worked for. Other reasons were to help us form an organization that could being receiving both cash and other donations to help fund the vision that we were developing.  The ultimate goal was to build an organization that would support growing the mission of Open Source development participation and adoption.

 Bill: the decision to incorporate was triggered by IBM's interest in participating in the project.  Apache Group was very open minded in listening to IBM's concerns and together, Apache Group, and IBM hammered out an engagement model that we believed would be reasonably lightweight while protecting the core interests of Apache Group and participants. I think IBM's interest in the project also provided another data point validating the viability of Open Source.

 Mark: see the notes in Apache Week which gives the background...

Q: What Apache projects were you contributing to?

 Aram: HTTPD, HTTPD/2, Commons, a couple of minor ones here and there.

 Dirk: mostly the Web server back in those days. And helping various XML and Java projects, such as Tomcat, getting out of the gate.

 Randy: my primary involvement was the Apache HTTPD Project along with my participation as a Board member.

 Jim: I am still contributing to Apache httpd, even to this day. I also contribute to several other Apache projects, to various degrees, including Apache Portable Runtime, Apache OpenOffice, Apache Pulsar, the Apache Incubator …

 Mark: my involvement in the Apache HTTP Server continued for some years and I handled security issues, occasional release manager, and wrote modules like mod_status. Outside of the ASF, together with Paul Sutton, another core developer, we launched Apache Week. Apache Week was a weekly look at the state of Apache development and ran from February 1996 through to 2004. My work life revolved around Apache too, founding C2Net in Europe which created Stronghold, a commercially supported version of Apache with security.

 Sameer: just the HTTP Server.

 Bill: Apache HTTP Server, Apache Portable Runtime.

 Lars: apart from the Apache HTTP Server project I joined the Conference Planning project when it started. Attending ApacheCon in 1998 left a big impression on me. Meeting the other developers was amazing, but also having a chance to talk to some of the users. It made me realize that we needed to provide regular opportunities for users and developers to meet. A lot can be done via Web sites, Wikis, and mailing lists, but nothing beats meeting face to face. I helped plan ApacheCon events from 2000 until 2009 and served as VP for the Conference Planning project for the last two years.

Q: What is your current involvement with the ASF? What are you up to today?

 Jim: I am still quite involved with the ASF and was fortunate enough to have served on the board since Day 1 until last year when I took a break. I accepted the nomination to run again this year so by the time this is published, who knows, I might be a Director again. But as I said, I still am very active on the Foundation and the Project efforts.

 Dirk: little; some ASF-wide stuff in general and security responses/coordination in particular.

 Randy: unfortunately, my schedule does not allow me to be involved with the ASF these days.

 Aram: I'm emeritus. About 16 years ago I joined a company that does not allow contribution to Open Source and have been sidelined since then. I'm still an avid reader of the mailing lists and try to keep up with the Board updates. The good news is that in the last few months I have changed enough minds that there is a new legal document going into effect that removes the no-contribution rule.

 Mark: one of the main things Apache Week did was track security issues in the HTTP Server project, providing a database of vulnerabilities as well as commentary and severity levels. I rolled this up back to the project and this led to me taking a more focused role on helping with security issues across Apache projects. As Vice President for ASF Security I still work every week on helping projects handle the security issues reported to them. I maintain the CVE Numbering Authority for Apache and am on the CVE board.

Sameer: I don't do very much with the ASF other than use many ASF Open Source projects. These days I am primarily focused on being a Dad to my 3 kids.

Bill: I watch from afar as an emeritus member of the ASF. I follow the Members mailing list.

Lars: I'm not as active any more than I used to be in the ASF. That's especially true since my son was born in 2017... as far as possible I still try to stay up-to-date with the Apache HTTP Server project, Community Development, and with the Apache Security Team. In my day job I am self employed working as an IT consultant, typically with a focus on IT Security Architecture. After living for 10 years in London I'm currently in the process of moving to Berlin.

Q: Could you share how the ASF and The Apache Way has impacted your work? How has it (the impact) changed over time?

 Dirk: like any industry/peer/professional society –it is a great place to learn, to refine, to socialize– that improves day to day professional work.

 Jim: we were lucky with the Apache Way... a lot of the decisions that made sense and were "expedient" when we made them have stood the test of time. I think this is because we wanted to create a place where people were welcomed and rewarded for volunteering their talents and skills and all contributions were appreciated.

 Randy: my involvement with the ASF helped me to solidify my belief that we are better at solving problems in collaborative processes. When I first discovered Open Source back in the late 1980s, it made so much sense that better solutions happened when groups of people were able to discuss and expose their work to peer review by some of the brightest minds in the computer industry. I've had a great luxury to work with some of those people through collaboration in the ASF and other peer reviewed groups. This has made me better at what I do, and has helped me learn how to listen to others in these environments.

 Mark: the expertise and knowledge I gained through working on the Apache HTTP Server led directly to my first job offer; and through various acquisitions I'm still in the same company. So I've Apache to thank for several decades of interesting, challenging, and rewarding work. While I've not got involved in coding for Apache projects for quite some time, my expertise and insights are still useful and I am able to keep my hand in writing the occasional script.

 Bill: the members of the original Apache Group and the Apache HTTP Server projects quite literally changed my life and world view. I walked in, as a developer 'assigned' by IBM. Although I had to earn commit access through my contributions, the nature of my assignment was antithetical to Apache Group norms. The group accepted me, with some reluctance by some of the members. I cannot thank the members of the group enough for showing me the ropes. I listened, and learned and I am a better person for it. I am grateful for the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time to be at the center of the birth of the Open Source movement. I would like to thank all the members of the original Apache Group and my colleagues at IBM for making it possible.

Q: What influence do you think the ASF and The Apache Way has had in the industry?

 Dirk: collectively we have, as an industry and as the ASF, found ways to collaborate –even though we intensively compete in other areas. And that collaboration was crucial for the open Internet; where interoperability was key. It kept the core of the World Wide Web relatively open; preventing large walled-gardens from appearing early.

 Randy: I believe that the biggest influence that the ASF has had on the industry is to facilitate participation in the process of Open Source development. While the ASF was not the first ever organization to do Open Source development, I believe that it was one of the first that actively solicited involvement from other corporations to get involved in the process. We had great experiences with a number of businesses that saw the advantages of being part of the solution and dedicated their development resources toward working with the ASF to improve the software that was being developed while bringing forward their customer's requirements. I spent a lot of time in the early days explaining these companies what Open Source was and why anyone would want to dedicate their free time to participating in software development without making money. I'm happy to see that most leading technology companies understand those advantages today and many of them are active participants in the process.

 Aram: the Apache License is well known and followed by many non-ASF projects. Many of the ASF projects are leaders in their respective fields/technologies.

 Mark: the creation of the Apache License has spawned a whole generation of Open Source software that follows the ideals of Apache even when that software isn't necessarily created by The Apache Software Foundation. A meeting of a number of core Apache developers at an early ApacheCon led to the formation of OpenSSL; which, although not an ASF project, has followed the ideals of Apache and has now even adopted the Apache License for future versions.

 Lars: The Apache Way is certainly the ASF's biggest "export". It has inspired many companies to implement similar principles for their internal development projects. Many of the projects at the ASF are cornerstones of the IT industry and the Internet. Open Source software and Apache software in general has enabled many startup companies to compete with the big players and be successful. Proprietary software is on the demise and Open Source software plays a central part of the long-term IT strategy of many companies. The ASF and especially the Apache License has played a big role in this.

 Bill: the ASF, and our licensing model, made Open Source acceptable to a much larger audience. The Apache Way provided an equitable way for anyone with the time and right set of skills to influence the direction of ASF projects.

 Jim: the ASF has served as the cradle and the crucible for just about every innovative technological advancement that has happened over the last decades. The Web, Java, Email, Wikis/blogs, databases, Big Data, PubSub, Machine Learning, AI... all of these technologies have their roots in the projects and communities within Apache. In many ways we have defined the industry and created several. The Apache Way is currently being recognized as the premier software development paradigm, and serves as the foundation for InnerSource, which is transforming Enterprise IT development.

Q: What advice do you have for those starting in Open Source? Why is Apache a good community to become involved with?

 Jim: Open Source is about honing your skills and your talents, about working with like-minded people who value you and your talents and your contributions; a place where you gain merit based on what you do. Find a project you are passionate about and share that passion with those who feel the same; that's easy at Apache.

 Randy: for anyone wanting to participating in Open Source development, I believe that the ASF provides a great structure and community for helping newcomers navigate the challenges of getting started. You'll find a welcoming group of your peers there that will gladly guide you toward things that need to get done or hear you out about the things you believe you could start doing to participate.

 Aram: I just responded to something similar on Reddit. My advice would be to pick one or two projects where you are a user, a subscriber. Contribute to that project so that you can see the results right then and there. I have seen people try to bolster their resumes with Open Source project contributions but then when you ask about the project itself they don't know much about them. It's important not only to contribute code but to also contribute to the culture of the project and its direction.

 Mark: I've yet to find an Open Source project that doesn't have something that someone new can help with; you don't have to be an expert with all the code to contribute to a project –I've not written any code for Apache projects in over a decade yet there are still many ways I can add value to the ASF. With so many different projects with different userbases with different programming languages there's bound to be something that matches the skills and interest levels of folks starting out for the first time.

 Dirk: code cannot live in isolation, or on itself, for long periods of time. Code requires a community to evolve it, to nurture it, to make sure it grows in the right directions and to dampen others that may be just too esoteric to maintain long term. So it is Community Over Code. A very fragile balance. But once; if you get this right –can really make things fly.

 Bill: the ASF is an extremely open and accepting community full of really great people. Pick the project that interests you, then lurk, listen, and learn. Take the time to understand how the community works, then reach out to someone in the community and see if they would be willing to coach you. Go slow, learn, respect the sensibilities of community members and processes and you will be successful.

Q: What do you think is needed to strengthen the ASF as it looks forward to the next 20 years?

 Dirk: one of our core drivers is –or was– the need for the Internet to be open and interoperable. And that this need drove all inclusive, forums such as the ASF where people could collaborate on technology and make it work well together. Even if their employers compete –or especially if their employers compete. The world has changed since –large platform players balkanize certain areas and are able to push through 'their' technology on 'their' agenda. This negating their need to collaboratively work with others to be interoperable. Or even their need to 'contribute' back. And simultaneously –companies and investors are learning how to better control –or game– these collaborations; how to create 'pay to play' Open Source foundations; and how to allow money to drive product direction. These two things break the feedback loop that allowed Apache to mature, grow, increase quality. So we need to learn how to deal with this; find new positive feedback loops and amplifiers to offset those we've lost.

 Randy: I think that one of the things that any Open Source community would benefit from is active involvement in educational curricula. Through involvement in the education process in both K12 and beyond, Open Source communities gain relevance and participants.

 Aram: too many thoughts on this one ...I think we do need not only more communication, but better means of communication. As "techies" I think our communication is a bit too technical at times. One more P.S. here ... the "ASF" logo should be more of a brand. It's simply an umbrella project and a copyright today.  Looking at the next 5, 10, 20 years the ASF brand should stand for good practices, open communication, Open Source, etc. –not that it isn't today ... it simply doesn't have the reach into the business world.

 Bill: interesting question. Is 'strengthen' the right way to look at the future or is 'adapt' a better word? People and company motivations for participating in Open Source communities have evolved and will continue to evolve in the future. The ASF, as a public charity, will need to adapt to changing requirements in order to survive and thrive.

 Lars: we must make sure that we strengthen the use of "The Apache Way" principles, and continue focusing on the community and individual contributors. We must learn from cases where a new contributor left a project, because the project wasn't welcoming or open enough and try to fix these issues. Innovation cannot happen without a healthy community.

Reinforcing "Community Over Code" is a great way to close this out! Thank you, Aram, Bill, Dirk, Jim, Lars, Mark, Randy, and Sameer, for your thoughtful responses and sharing these great memories –it's so great to catch up with all of you.

Thank you, and your fellow founders –Brian Behlendorf, Ken Coar, Miguel Gonzales, Ralf Engelschall, Roy Fielding, Dean Gaudet, Ben Hyde, Alexei Kosut, Martin Kraemer, Ben Laurie, Doug MacEachern, Cliff Skolnick, Marc Slemko, and Paul Sutton –for this tremendous gift to humanity. You have transformed our lives.

Interviews by Sally Khudairi.

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Success at Apache: What You Need to Know

EDITOR'S NOTE: I came across the author's original post, "An Introduction to Apache Software — What you need to know", dated 3 February 2017, and was interested in finding away to share with the greater Apache community. The author's enthusiasm was palpable, and earnestly intended to help educate others. With the ASF celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year, it's easy for many of us to simply rely on tribal knowledge, not realizing that navigation to definitive guides aren't intuitive to newcomers. Those of us who have been here for a while "just know", partially because we were creating it as we went along. Below is an updated version of the original post, amended through the guidance of three long-standing ASF Members. And that's the point of it all at the end of the day: at Apache, we help each other as it contributes to our collective success, and this writeup will help others find their Success at Apache. 

by Maximilian Michels

Before you started reading this post, you have already been using Apache software. The Apache web server (Apache HTTP Server) serves about every second web page on the WWW, including this website. One could say, Apache software runs the WWW. But it doesnt stop there. Apache is more than a web server. Apache software also runs on mobile devices. Apache software is part of enterprise and banking software. Apache software is literally everywhere in today's software world.

Apache has become a powerful brand and a philosophy of software development which remains unmatched in the world of open-source. Although the Apache® trademark is a known term even among the less tech-savvy people, many people struggle to define what Apache software really is about, and what role it plays for today's software development and businesses.

In the last years I've learned a lot about Apache through my work on Apache Flink and Apache Beam with dataArtisans, as a freelancer/consultant, and as a volunteer. In this post I want to give an overview of the Apache Software Foundation and its history. Moreover, I want to show how the "Apache way" of software development has shaped the open-source software development as it is today.

The History of the Foundation

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) was founded in 1999 by a group of open-source enthusiasts who saw the need to create a legal entity to institutionalize their work. Among the first projects was the famous web server called Apache HTTP, which is also simply referred to as "Apache web server". At that time, the Apache web server was already quite mature. In fact, not only did the Apache web server give the foundation its name but it became the role model for the "Apache way" of open and collaborative software development. To see how that took place, we have to go back a bit further in time.

A Web Server goes a long way

As early as 1994, Rob McCool at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Illinois created a simple web server which served pages using one of the early versions of today's HTTP protocol. Web servers were not ubiquitous like they are today. In these days, the Web was still in its early days and there was only one web browser developed at CERN where the WWW was invented only shortly before. Rob's web server was adopted quite fruitfully throughout the web due to its extensible nature. When its source code spread, web page administrators around the world developed extensions for the web server and helped to fix errors. When Rob left the NCSA in late 1994, he also left a void because there was nobody left to maintain the web server along with its extensions. Quickly it became apparent that the group of existing users and developers needed to join forces to be able to maintain NCSA HTTP.

At the beginning of 1995, the Apache Group was formed to coordinate the development of the NCSA HTTP web server. This led to the first release of the Apache web server in April 1995. During the same time, development at NCSA started picking off again and the two teams were in vivid exchange about future ideas to improve the web server. However, the Apache Group was able to develop its version of the web server much faster because of their structure which encouraged worldwide collaboration. At the end of the year, the Apache server had its architecture redone to be modular and it executed much faster.

One year later, at the beginning of 1996, the Apache web server already succeeded the popularity of the NCSA HTTP which had been the most popular web server on the Internet until then. Apache 1.0 finally was released on Dec 1, 1995. The web server continued to thrive and is still the most widely used web browser as of this writing.

The Rise of the Foundation

The team effort that led to the development and adoption of the Apache web server was a huge success. The Apache project kept receiving feedback and code changes (also called patches) from people all over the world. Could this be the development model for future software? More and more projects started to organize their groups similarly to the Apache group. As the number of project grew, financial interests arose and potential legal issues threatened the existence of the Apache group. Out of this need, the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) was incorporated as a US 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in June 1999. In the US, the 501(c)(3) is a legal entity specifically designed for non-profit charitable organizations. This is in contrast to other for-profit open-source software organizations or even US 501(c)(6) non-profit organizations which do not require to be charitable.

After the ASF was incorporated, new projects could easily leverage the foundation's services. Over the next year, every few months a new project entered the ASF. The first projects after Apache HTTP Server were Apache mod_perl (March 2000), Apache tcl (July 2000), and Apache Portable Runtime (December 2000). After a short break in 2001 which was used to come up with a programmatic approach to onboard new projects via an incubator, the ASF has seen very consistent growth of up to 12 projects (2012) each year.

The ASF became a framework for open-source software development which, in its entirety, remains unmatched by other forms of open-source software development. The secret of ASF's success is its unique approach to scaling its operations, in which the foundation does not try to exercise control over its projects. Instead, it focuses on providing volunteers with the infrastructure and a minimal set of rules to manage their projects. The projects itself remain almost autonomous.

Apache Governance - How does the foundation work?

There are about 200 independent projects running under the Apache umbrella. The question may arise, how does the foundation govern its projects? First of all, the ASF is an organization that is run almost entirely by volunteers. In the early days, many of the volunteers were developers which did not like to spend much time with administrative things (who does?), so the organization is structured in a way that requires little central control but favors autonomy of the projects which run under its umbrella.

Per-Project Entities

For every project (e.g. Apache HTTP, Apache Hadoop, Apache Commons, Apache Flink, Apache Beam, etc.), there are a Project Management Committee (PMC), Committers, Contributors, and Users.

Project Management Committee (PMC)

The PMC manages a project's community and decides over its development direction. Its most rudimentary and traditional role is to approve releases for a project. In that sense it has a similar function as the original Apache Group which led the development of Apache HTTP Server. When a new project graduates from the Incubator (covered later), the foundation's central instance, the Board, approves the initial PMC which is selected from the PPMC (Podling PMC) formed during incubation. Each PMC elects one PMC member as the PMC Chair which represents the project and writes quarterly reports to the ASF Board. The Chair needs to be approved by the Board.

Through a project's lifetime new PMC members can be elected by the existing PMC. Note that each new PMC member needs to be approved by the Board but this approval is merely formal and there are few instances that a new PMC member is not approved. PMC members do not need the formal permission of the foundation to elect new Committers. PMC members themselves are also Committers. Let's learn about Committers next.


Committers can modify the code base of the project but they can't make decisions regarding the governance of the project. They are trusted by the PMC to work in the interest of the project. When they contribute changes, they commit (thus, the name) these changes to the project. Committers don't only change code but they can also update documentation, write blog posts on the project's website, or give talks at conferences. Committers are selected from the users of the project; more about this process in the Meritocracy section.

Users and Contributors

Users are as important as the developers because they try out the project’s software, report bugs, and request new features. The term is a slightly confusing because, in the Apache world, most users tend to be developers themselves. They are users in the sense that they are using an Apache project for their own work; usually they are not actively developing the Apache software they are using. However, they may also provide patches to the Committers. Users who contribute to a project are called Contributors. Contributors may eventually become Committers.

In the image, the per-project entities are represented as circles. They exist for every project. Note that the user group circle is not depicted in full size because big projects tend to have much more Users than Committers and PMC members.

Foundation-Wide Entities

The ASF does not work without some central services. Here are the most important entities:

Apache Members

Apache members represent the heart of the foundation. They have been referred to as the "shareholders of the ASF" because they are deeply invested in the ASF (not in the financial sense). A prerequisite to becoming a member is to be active in at least one project. To become a member, you have to show interest in the foundation and try to promote its values. The ASF holds membership meetings which are usually held annually. At membership meetings new members can be proposed and subsequently elected. Elected members receive an invitation which they can choose to accept within 30 days. Becoming a member it not merely a recognition for supporting the ASF, but it also grants the right to elect the Board.

The Board of Directors (Board)

The Board takes care of the overall government of the foundation. In particular, it is concerned with legal and financial matters like brand and licensing issues, fundraising, and financial planning. The board is elected by the Apache members annually and is also composed of Apache members. The current board can be viewed here. Note that there is only one central Board for the entire foundation but Board members can be PMC members in different projects.

Officers of the corporation

The Officers of the corporation are the executive part of the administration. They execute the decisions of the board and take care of everyday business. Most of the officers are implicitly officers by being the PMC chair of a project. Additionally, there are dedicated officers for central work of the foundation, e.g. fundraising, marketing, accounting, data privacy, etc.

Infrastructure (INFRA)

The support and administration team (INFRA) is the team that runs the Apache infrastructure and provides tools and support for developers. INFRA is the only team at Apache which consists of contractors which are paid for their work. Their work includes running the web site and the mailing lists which are Apache’s main way of communication. Over time, various other tools and services were created to assist the projects. The main tools available which are used by almost all projects are:

  • Web space for the project's websites.
  • Mailing lists, for discussing the roadmap of the project, exchanging ideas, or reporting bugs (unwanted software behavior). Typically the mailing lists are divided into a developer and a user mailing list.
  • Bug trackers, which help developers to keep track of new features or bugs.
  • Version control, which helps developers to keep track of the code changes.
  • Build servers, which help to integrate/test new code or changes to existing code.

The Incubator

Founded in 2002, the Incubator is a project at the ASF dedicated to forming (bootstrapping) new Apache projects. The process is the following: People (volunteers, enthusiasts, or company employees) make a proposal to the Incubator. The proposal contains the project name, the list of initial PPMC (Podling PMC) members, and the motivation and goals for the new project. Once the IPMC (Incubator PMC) has discussed the proposal, it holds a vote to decide if the project enters the incubation phase. In the incubation phase, projects carry "incubating" in their names, e.g. "Apache Flink (incubating)"; this is dropped only once they graduate. To graduate, a project has to show that it is mature enough. The Community Development project at the ASF has created a catalogue of criteria called the Maturity Model. It requires having an active community, quality of code, and being legally compliant. Formally, the project needs to prove it fulfils the criteria to the Incubator IPMC which is comprised of Apache members. All existing work donated in the course of entering the incubator and all future work inside the project has to be licensed to the ASF under the Apache License. This ensures that development remains in the open-source according to the Apache philosophy. More about incubation on the official website.

Meritocracy - How are decisions made?

The Apache Software Foundation uses the term "meritocracy" to describe how it governs itself. Going back to the ancient Greeks, meritocracy was a political system to put those into power which proved that they were motivated, put effort into their work, and were able to help a project. The core of this philosophy can be found throughout history from ancient China to medieval Europe and is still present in many of today’s cultures in the sense that effort, increased responsibility, and service to a part of society ought to pay off in terms of power of decision, social status, or money.

Meritocracy in the Apache Software Foundation denotes that people who either work in the interest of the foundation or a project get promoted. Users who submit patches may be offered Committer status. Comitters who are drive a project, may gain PMC status. PMC members active across projects and taking part in the foundation's work may earn the Member status.

Decision-making within the foundation and projects are typically performed using Consensus. Consensus can be "lazy" which implies that even a few people can drive a discussion and make decisions for the entire community as long as nobody objects. The discussions have to be held in public on the mailing list. For instance, if a Committer decides to introduce a new feature X, she may do so by proposing the feature on the mailing list. If nobody objects, she can go ahead and develop the feature. If lazy consensus does not work because an argument cannot be settled, a majority based vote can be started.

Meritocracy and "lazy" Consensus are the core principles for governance within the Apache Software Foundation. Meritocracy ensures that new people can join those already in power. "Lazy" Consensus creates the opportunity to split up decision-making among the group such that it doesn't always require the action of all members of the community.

The Apache License - A license for the world of open-source

With the incorporation of the foundation in 1999, a license had to be created to prevent conflicts with the intellectual property contributed by others to the ASF. Originally, the license was meant to be used exclusively by the ASF but it quickly became one of the most widely used software licenses for all kinds of open-source software development.

The Apache license is very permissive in the sense that source code modifications are not required to be open-sourced (made publicly available) even when the source code is distributed or sold to other entities. This is in contrast to “Copyleft” licenses like the GNU Public License (GPL) which, upon redistribution, requires public attribution and publication of changes made to the original source code. The Apache license was first derived from the BSD license which is similarly permissive. The reason for this was that the Apache HTTP Server was originally licensed under the BSD license.

The current version of the Apache License is 2.0, released in January 2004. The changes made since the initial release are only minor but they set the prerequisite for its prevalence. At first, the license was only available to Apache projects. Due to the success of the Apache model, people also wanted to use the license outside the foundation. This was made possible in version 2.0. Also, the new version made it possible to combine GPL code with Apache licensed code. In this case, the resulting product would have to be licensed under the GPL to be compatible with the GPL license. Another change for version 2.0 was to make inclusion of the license in non Apache licensed projects easier and require explicit patent grants for patent-relevant parts.

Apache Today

The ASF today is not the small group that it used to be back in 1999. At the time of this writing, the Apache Software Foundation hosts 51 podlings in the Incubator and 199 top-level committees (PMCs). This amounts to almost 300 projects (latest statistics). Note that, a PMC may decide to host multiple projects if necessary. For instance, the Apache Commons PMC has split up the different parts of the Apache Commons library into separate projects (e.g. CLI, Email, Daemon, etc.). 50 of the 300 projects have been retired and are now part of Apache Attic, the project which hosts all retired projects. The above graph is taken from

Apache Conferences

The Apache Software Foundation regularly organizes conferences around the world called ApacheCon. These conferences are dedicated to the Apache community or certain topics like Big Data or IoT. It is a place to meet community members and learn about the latest ideas and trends within the global Apache community. Apart from the official conferences, there are conferences on Apache software organized by companies or external organization, e.g. Strata, FlinkForward, Kafka Summit, Spark Summit.

Here's a list of some projects that I came across in the past. I grouped them into categories for a better overview. I realize you might not know a lot of the projects but maybe this list can be the starting point to discover more about these Apache projects :)

Big Data

  • Hadoop
  • Flink
  • Spark
  • Beam
  • Samza
  • Storm
  • NiFi
  • Kafka
  • Flume
  • Tez
  • Zeppelin


  • Mesos
  • CloudStack
  • Libcloud

Machine Learning

  • Mahout


  • OpenOffice


  • CouchDB
  • HBase
  • Zookeeper
  • Derby
  • Cassandra

Query Tools / APIs

  • Hive
  • Pig
  • Drill
  • Crunch
  • Ignite
  • Solr
  • Lucene

Programming Languages

  • Groovy


  • Bigtop
  • Ambari


  • Commons
  • Avro
  • Thrift
  • ActiveMQ
  • Parquet

Developer Tools

  • Ant
  • Maven
  • Ivy
  • Subversion

Web Servers

  • HTTP (the one!)
  • Tomcat

Web Frameworks

  • Cocoon
  • Struts
  • Sling

Apache - A Successful Open-Source Development Model

My first attempt to learn more about Apache goes back several years. I was using the Apache License while working on Scalaris at Zuse Institute Berlin. I realized that the license was somehow connected to the Apache Software Foundation but I didn't really understand the depth of this relationship until I started working on Apache Flink with dataArtisans. Besides the official homepage of the foundation, relatively little information was available on the Internet about the foundation and its projects. In hindsight, the best source of information was to read the email archives, get to know other people at the ASF, and become a volunteer myself :)

When I originally wrote this post I couldn’t find an introductory guide to the ASF. So I decided to do a bit of research myself and tried to write down what I had learned working on Apache projects. I hope that I could provide an overview of the ASF and show you how significant the foundation has been for the open-source software development.

Thank you

Thank you for reading this article. Feel free to write me an email if I got something wrong or you would like to comment on anything.

Thank you Roman Shaposhnik, Shane Curcuru, Dave Fisher, and Sally Khudairi for your comments which were very helpful to revise this post for the 20th anniversary of the ASF.


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"Success at Apache" is a monthly blog series that focuses on the people and processes behind why the ASF "just works".



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