Terraform's Future: Our Support for Keeping it Open!Tech Blog

Explore the implications of HashiCorp’s pivot from Terraform’s open-source license to BSL v1.1 in 2023. Understand the significance of the OpenTF initiative and how CMPSoares, Lda. aims to support the continued open-source journey of Terraform.


BY Carlos Manuel Soares / ON Aug 21, 2023

A recent surprise caught the attention of the DevOps community. On August 10, 2023, HashiCorp decided to pivot from Terraform’s nine-year-long open-source journey under the MPL v2 license to the non-open-source BSL v1.1 license. As passionate and long-term users of Terraform, this move raised some eyebrows at CMPSOARES.

Why Open-Source Matters in the Terraform Universe

Open source is more than just a licensing framework; it’s a philosophy. When Terraform was launched under the Mozilla Public License (MPL) v2.0, the promise was clear: freedom in usage, modifications, and distribution. It’s what made companies like ours dive deep into its adoption, contribute actively, and benefit from its expansive ecosystem. Think of it as a virtuous cycle. Open-source licensing meant more corporate adoption. This meant more developers engaging with the tool, contributing fixes, new features, and additional tools. It’s precisely this cycle that solidified Terraform’s position as a leading infrastructure as code (IaC) tool. Would we have been as committed if Terraform wasn’t open-source? Probably not.

Understanding the BSL Switch

HashiCorp’s decision to switch to BSL v1.1 wasn’t made lightly. They’ve been threading a tightrope: giving away fantastic, free, open-source software while keeping their business sustainable. Finding a middle ground between what to commercialize and what to stay open-source is challenging. Before this change, it seemed like they had struck a perfect balance. Most functionalities were open source, and certain features were exclusive to their commercial offerings, like Terraform Cloud and Terraform Enterprise. However, the recent shift has the potential to disturb this equilibrium.

The Caveats of the BSL License

The BSL license, while permissive in many ways, has a specific catch: it restricts usage if a product competes with HashiCorp or Terraform is embedded within that product. While these conditions might seem straightforward, they’re ambiguous in practical scenarios. What exactly constitutes competition? What does “embedding” mean? These grey areas can pose many questions for businesses like ours that heavily rely on the tool. Moreover, there’s an overarching concern: the unpredictable nature of the BSL license, with HashiCorp reserving the right to alter decisions or definitions, potentially jeopardizing our and many other businesses operations.

Introducing OpenTF

In light of these concerns, the OpenTF initiative stands as a beacon. It’s a pledge to ensure Terraform remains open-source for good. The approach is straightforward:

  • Appeal to HashiCorp: Request them to revert Terraform to its original open-source license.
  • Ready to Fork: If HashiCorp remains steadfast, the community, including us at CMPSOARES, is prepared to fork Terraform and maintain an open-source version.

Our Stand and Offer

At CMPSOARES, Lda., while we continue to be vivid users of Terraform, we are ready to embrace open-source Terraform, whether through HashiCorp reverting its decision or the OpenTF initiative. Our commitment to open-source is unwavering, and we assure all our partners that we’ll continue supporting Terraform. Furthermore, recognizing the potential challenges this switch might cause, we’re also poised to provide services assisting businesses in transitioning from Terraform to OpenTF. Please reach out if you’re facing challenges or uncertainties due to this switch.

Lend Your Voice

If you, like us, believe in the open-source ethos and feel Terraform should stay true to its origins, join us in supporting the OpenTF initiative. For more details and to join the movement, visit OpenTF. Let’s shape the future of Terraform together!

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