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Yahoo Lets FOSS Community Drive Its Traffic Server

By Jack M. Germain
Nov 4, 2009 4:00 AM PT

In a move that resembles a major food vendor giving away its prize recipe -- minus the secret sauce -- to all of its customers and competitors, Yahoo on Monday donated the source code for its Traffic Server software to the Apache Software Foundation through the Apache Incubator Project.

Yahoo Lets FOSS Community Drive Its Traffic Server

Yahoo hopes to grow a community of product users who return to use the full recipe rather than trying to make the recipe work on their own. Yahoo intends to build a robust community of developers around the open source Traffic Server, the company said.

The release of the Traffic Server code to the open source community marks the second time in five months that Yahoo made a significant contribution to the FOSS world.

"The obvious target is developers. Yahoo had a pretty strong development community, which faded in the last few years," Jay Lyman, analyst with the 451 Group, told LinuxInsider.

Playing the Field

Changes in the Web marketplace may be influencing Yahoo to work more favorably with the open source community, suggested Lyman. Providing the source code may be the company's way of trying to remain pertinent with a product it cannot monetize, he suggested.

However, donating the code has nothing to do with failed efforts to make money from direct sales, according to Yahoo officials -- in fact, the company plans to release more of its products as open source.

"We see Traffic Server as an essential building block for cloud computing, and at Yahoo, it's integral to our edge services, online storage and cloud serving. The open sourcing of Traffic Server is representative of our company-wide commitment to sharing technology innovation with the open source community, as well as our broader intention to continue to open source our cloud technologies as they mature," said Shelton Shugar, senior vice president of Cloud Computing at Yahoo.

Releasing an open source version of Traffic Server lets the company share a core piece of technology with the open source world and signals Yahoo's intention to build a community of developers to take the software to the next level, Shugar explained.

Better Performance

Traffic Server took Yahoo engineers eight years to develop. It's a high-performance application server for builders of cloud services. The software package enables session management, authentication, configuration management, load balancing and routing for an entire cloud computing stack.

The open source version of Traffic Server gives organizations fast, reliable and scalable access to cached online content, according to Yahoo. Plus, it enables quicker responses to requests for stored Web objects, such as files, news articles or images. This reduces bandwidth usage and costs.

The software's framework design offers users low latency. Also, its plug-in architecture makes it customizable to fit different system needs, according to Yahoo.

How It Works

Traffic Server handles some 30 billion Web objects a day across the Yahoo network. The software works within the company's global network of data centers to choose the closest servers to store and access cached content for increased speed.

Traffic Server handles more than 30,000 requests per second per server. It serves more than 400 terabytes of data per day, said Yahoo.


Salesforce Commerce Solution Guide
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Salesforce Commerce Solution Guide
Salesforce Commerce Solution Guide