Over 2000 years ago the Roman historian Tacitus observed that “Victory is claimed by all”—or, as some translations put it, “Success has many fathers.” Open source is similar. For example, AWS recently worked with Grafana Labs to build and launch a managed Prometheus service—two companies joining together to deliver the open source monitoring software as a cloud service. Sounds simple, right?

Wrong. 

To get to that Prometheus service a number of different companies and open source communities played a part: SoundCloud, which gave birth to Prometheus; Hyperic, the inspiration behind Cortex (by way of Scope); SpringSource, which recognized the business value in monitoring. Oh, and at the center of everything, Weaveworks, the company perhaps best known for GitOps but which also created Cortex.

Buried in the history of Cortex is a lesson in apportioning open source credit. The tl;dr? It’s complicated. It’s also diffuse. And it’s exactly how open source is supposed to work.

Money and open source

In the case of Cortex, it really started with money. Or, rather, the need to make money.

As Weaveworks CEO Alexis Richardson put it in an interview, “I remember having a conversation with Rod [Johnson, SpringSource CEO], and he said his biggest business regret in terms of the path SpringSource had taken was not acquiring Hyperic immediately and letting it grow in value…. That remark burned itself in my head.”

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