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Akka to move away from open source licence, citing funding needs

Enterprise customers will have to pay for the widely-used toolkit, with current versions losing all updates and support from October

An extreme close up of code on a screen

Popular toolkit Akka, which to date has been available as an open source solution, is set for a licence change that will see it become a paid product.

Akka, developed by Lightbend, is used for the creation of apps for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). It has been implemented by a wide range of companies, including BP, PayPal, Verizon, Epic Games and Shopify.

Since its inception in 2009, Akka has been available on the open source Apache licence, but Lightbend has now announced that from v2.7 (due in October) it will fall under the Business Source License (BSL), marking a departure from a totally free model that relied on donations.

Under the new plans, the standard licence will be available for $1,995 per core annually, whereas the enterprise licence will be available at a steeper $2,995 across the same period. Lightbend has indicated that the change was necessary in order to maintain funding at the levels necessary to support the firm's plans for growth.

“In recent years an increasing number of those organisations have elected to self-support without either contributing back to the community or by investing in annual subscriptions,” Lightbend stated in a blog post.

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“We have an ambitious roadmap for the future of Akka and require a way to fund and sustain that development.”

Any company that uses Akka in its production process will be affected by the licence change, but those with annual revenues of less than $25 million will be given the licence at no extra cost. Moreover, after three years under BSL, it'll revert back to the Apache licence.

Additionally, developers currently using Akka will be able to continue using the toolkit, but Lightbend will cease security updates and bug fixes for all current versions going forward. Those using the framework for open source projects have been urged to contact Lightbend directly, to discuss options.

Reaction throughout the developer community has been one of general disappointment, but talk has already turned to alternatives to Akka on Twitter.

Open source software has long been used by companies and enthusiasts alike, and carries a range of benefits such as the potential it offers for crowd-sourced solutions to development problems. But recent concerns over the Log4Shell vulnerability have led to serious discussion over the security viability of open source in the long-term.

This Spring, Google revealed a new Assured Open Source Software service to protect the supply of open source software in the Google Cloud ecosystem, and to provide developers with the same packages as Google itself uses.

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