Facebook: We Heart Open Source So Much We Want to Sponsor It

After contributing Thrift (scalable cross-language services development), Hive (data warehouse infrastructure built on top of Apache Hadoop) and Cassandra (inbox search, but now used more broadly) to the Apache Software Foundation, Facebook is today joining the foundation as a “Gold” sponsor.

That’s only a $40,000-a-year commitment, but it fits into a broader effort to open source Facebook’s infrastructure and developer tools, according to David Recordon, senior open programs manager at the social networking site (who also spends half his time on open standards efforts for the company).

Facebook owes a lot of its existence, from way back in Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room development days, to open-source software such as Linux, Apache, memcached, MySQL and PHP, said Recordon. The company now has originated and contributed to more than 20 open-source projects, with companies such as CBS (s cbs), Digg, hi5, last.fm, Rackspace and Twitter making use of them and/or continuing their development.

These technologies haven’t been cheap for Facebook to develop, and open sourcing them should make it easier for up-and-comers to scale up to the company’s size and compete with it. Recordon said Facebook asks itself when making the decision to open source, “Is it really core to business or something that really just helps Facebook scale, or helps us extend the site?”

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my bio.