We are very proud to announce that we are open sourcing most of the functionality previously available in AxonDB and AxonHub into a unified platform - Axon Server. Axon Server will be accompanied by a streamlined set of new commercial offerings - Axon Server Enterprise, the Big Data Pack, the Scale Pack and the Data Security and Compliance Pack. We are also realigning the Axon Framework towards Axon Server and offering a new simplified, combined platform named Axon 4.0. These changes represent a major step towards further deepening our long term commitment to open source and is worth explaining briefly. In the coming weeks and months we will be sharing far more details on these offerings.

The Details

As you are likely aware, we launched AxonDB and AxonHub earlier this year to complement the popular Axon Framework (on a celebratory note, the Axon Framework recently crossed one million downloads!). While the Axon Framework has always been open source, the same was not that case for AxonDB and AxonHub until now. The driving force behind AxonDB is to provide a high performance, purpose built event store. Similarly the driving force behind AxonHub is to make scalable distribution and routing of commands, queries and events across nodes as easy and robust as possible.

The now open source Axon Server supports all of this functionality to the extent that is appropriate for basic deployments of Axon. This is certainly true of evaluation, development, testing and small deployments of Axon applications. Specifically Axon Server supports purpose-built event storage, routing, manual scaling of tracking processors, event store queries, basic monitoring, basic security and basic messaging interoperability.

Axon Server Enterprise is targeted towards mission-critical, medium to large scale production deployments of Axon Server. Features include clustering, advanced monitoring, advanced metrics, advanced security, higher performance storage, higher performance routing, automatic scaling, multi-context support and advanced messaging interoperability.

While the Axon Server editions cover the majority of deployment scenarios, the feature packs cover specific, narrower use cases. Like Axon Server Enterprise, the feature packs are not open source. The Big Data Pack is intended for cases of very large volume data and includes features like sharding, multi-tier storage, readable replica and data compression. The Scale Pack is intended to target distributed data centers and includes features like location awareness and multi-data center support. Finally the Data Security and Compliance Pack is targeted towards high sensitivity enterprise environments and includes features like privacy guards (this is the current functionality of the now discontinued GDPR Module), data migration tools, data encryption and automated backups. Note that the exact names of these feature packs may change a bit in the future.

As is the case today, all of these offerings including the Axon Framework are covered by a suite of support, training and consulting options.

A very important change is that we have realigned the Axon Framework 4.0 defaults to use Axon Server out of the box, both for event storage and message routing. It is still possible to use things like AMQP to distribute events or JGroups to distribute commands, but Axon Server will provide a much easier and more maintainable solution to scaling your applications. The ease-of-use goal is perhaps most evident in our new Axon 4.0 offering that bundles Axon Framework and Axon Server together in a single download that will help you get started with Axon in the most productive way possible. Other than the realignment, Axon Framework 4.0 includes a small number of important API improvements.

Why the Convergence?

Since the release of AxonDB, AxonHub and the GDPR Module, a couple of things have become clear. These components are intrinsically linked, including to the Axon Framework. Keeping these separated makes communication, documentation, maintenance, support and usability more difficult than it should be. More importantly these factors caused confusion as to when to use these components separately and when to use them together. Converging the Axon platform around Axon Server makes it significantly easier for us to communicate the easiest, most robust way of using our offerings end-to-end. The Axon 4.0 offering takes the convergence a step further.

Why the Feature Packs?

There are a couple of reasons for the feature packs. The first is that they are not necessarily used frequently enough to be added to the server offerings and thus would lead to undue complexity. The second and perhaps more important reason is that it allows us to keep pricing as low as possible for the server offerings while allowing an easy (and also affordable) upgrade path to customers who need the features in the feature packs.

Why the Open Sourcing?

If software is eating the world, open source is eating software. There are very good reasons for this that probably do not need to be elaborated too much here. Open source software makes collaboration, transparency, adoption and fostering a community easier. It helps you avoid vendor lock-in and makes debugging as well as contribution easier. These factors are especially crucial for globally important parts of technology infrastructure like Axon.

AxonIQ’s goal is to drastically improve the way we build our systems. To achieve this goal, the tools and methodologies needed to achieve such a change must be easily accessible. Customers that started with AxonDB and AxonHub from the beginning of their projects have reported a significant reduction of complexity and time-to-market. However, having these products as closed source only has proven to make it difficult for users to include it in their evaluation cycles. By making Axon Server open source, we provide a very easy-to-use alternative, accessible for everyone. This is of course in addition to the more conventional reasons often cited for open source such as increased collaboration and contribution.

Why the Commercialization?

The paradox of open source - like most great ideologies - is embracing it from a purist’s standpoint often leads to bad outcomes. The evolution of Axon Framework and AxonIQ is a great case in point. For many years the Axon Framework was the work of one man’s passion, a small community and open source in its purest sense. AxonIQ is a far more recent phenomenon. The reality however is that the evolution of Axon has accelerated significantly during this short time-span already in terms of features, maturity, stability, quality, documentation, evangelism, support and yes, also adoption. The end result is that everyone has benefited - probably most of all existing Axon Framework users.

The key to the success of AxonIQ and the sustainable evolution of Axon is practical and reasonable commercialization. For enlightened customers that depend on Axon for significant parts of their success it is obvious it is important AxonIQ, rather than simply Axon, remains solidly successful in the long term. If Axon helps your company make money, paying a small fraction of that money back to Axon helps make sure your investment in the technology remains secure and you get the most out of it. This is especially true if you need the full extent of the features we offer including our support, training and consulting.

The most honest way we have found to keep modest, sustainable commercialization a reality and minimize undue conflicts of interest (such as poor documentation that forces users to buy support) is through selling licenses of our commercial, non open source offerings. This is of course in addition to the support, training and consulting options that are there for customers for whom it is most appropriate. This is a delicate balance to which there are never going to be universal answers but we are confident this is the right balance for Axon in the foreseeable future.

Summary

We have taken the courageous step of streamlining and open sourcing AxonDB and AxonHub into the Axon Server and Axon 4.0. In addition we are introducing Axon Server Enterprise and three targeted feature packs. Axon Framework remains largely the same as do our support, training and consulting offerings. We believe these changes will lead to greater ease-of-use and adoption of Axon. It is also the right thing to do in terms of maintaining a long term sustainable business at AxonIQ that benefits everyone.

As always we are thankful to our customers and community. We look forward to hearing from you!

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