Yahoo Lets FOSS Community Drive Its Traffic Server

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

Yahoo hopes to grow a community of productusers who return to use the full recipe rather thantrying to make the recipe work on their own. Yahoo intends to build arobust community of developers around the open source Traffic Server,the company said.

The release of the Traffic Server code to the open source communitymarks the second time in five months that Yahoo made a significant contribution tothe 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 morefavorably with the open source community, suggested Lyman. Providingthe source code may be the company’s way of trying to remain pertinentwith a product it cannot monetize, he suggested.

However, donating the code has nothing to do with failed efforts to makemoney 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 cloudcomputing, and at Yahoo, it’s integral to our edge services, onlinestorage and cloud serving. The open sourcing of Traffic Server isrepresentative of our company-wide commitment to sharing technologyinnovation with the open source community, as well as our broaderintention to continue to open source our cloud technologies as theymature,” said Shelton Shugar, senior vice president of Cloud Computingat Yahoo.

Releasing an open source version of Traffic Server lets the companyshare a core piece of technology with the open source world andsignals Yahoo’s intention to build a community of developers to takethe software to the next level, Shugar explained.

Better Performance

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

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

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

How It Works

Traffic Server handles some 30 billion Web objects a day across theYahoo network. The software works within the company’s global networkof data centers to choose the closest servers to store and accesscached content for increased speed.

Traffic Server handles more than 30,000 requests per second perserver. It serves more than 400 terabytes of data per day, saidYahoo.

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