Several years ago, providers of open-source software had a beef with Amazon Web Services. They complained that AWS was selling cloud-based versions of their software, depriving them of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue.
The dispute was a public relations nightmare for AWS and risked inviting trouble from competition regulators. So the company found ways to make peace with the open-source providers—short of sharing revenue with them. More recently, though, it broke from tradition and quietly began to share revenue with two open-source firms involved in artificial intelligence, an area where AWS is trying to catch up to its rivals.