As Yahoo Trims Down, Open Source Contributions Could Pick Up

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 04, 2012

Today, the news is out that Yahoo is planning 2,000 job cuts as its new CEO Scott Thompson (formerly President of PayPal) works to streamline the company. "Today's actions are an important next step toward a bold, new Yahoo -- smaller, nimbler, more profitable and better equipped to innovate," Thompson announced. What a lot of people don't realize is that many innovative initiatives and platform tools that Yahoo has leveraged over the years either were originally or became open source projects. As Yahoo slims down, we're likely to see some of its core technologies released as open source.

In May of last year, Yahoo's David Chaiken, Chief Architect, noted that the company has long-term plans to open source several non-core technologies that it has developed over the years, ranging from storage technologies to online tools. Yahoo has always taken advantage of, developed and contributed to open source.

In 2009, Yahoo donated Traffic Server scalable caching proxy to the Apache Software Foundation, and the cloud computing team at Yahoo contributed this guest post to us here at OStatic about it. Traffic Server is used in-house at Yahoo to manage its own traffic and it enables session management, authentication, configuration management, load balancing, and routing for entire cloud computing stacks. Now, Traffic Server is a popular project overseen by Apache.

Yahoo has always had developers and APIs deeply focused on PHP, Java, JavaScript, AJAX, ColdFusion, Ruby, Python and much more, in addition to many cross-platform applications. The company has also been open about sharing user interface tools, as you can see at the Yahoo! User Interface Library (YUI).  And, Yahoo's site was built from day one to run on FreeBSD technology. Beyond that, Yahoo is recognized for developing its own distribution of Hadoop technology for querying huge data sets and contributed mightily to the advancement of Hadoop.

The plans that David Chaiken described to open source many of Yahoo's core technologies could easily accelerate this year as Yahoo slims down and shutters some of its internal projects. Yahoo has had a working group in place evaluating candidate technologies to release into the wild. Historically, this process has yielded many valuable projects for the open source community.