The Future of Neo4j Open Source

Over the last year we’ve seen a tremendous interest in ONgDB from the community and businesses looking for a fully open source option in the market for Neo4j Enterprise. One of the most frequent questions we answer is the reasons for the ONgDB fork of Neo4j Enterprise and the future of Neo4j open source going forward.

Neo4j is the world’s leading graph database with the strongest community and adoption compared to any other graph database on the market. The maturity of the Neo4j project comes at a time when there is uncertainty and fear around the open source software model. In 2018, Neo4j, Inc. changed to an open core model which resulted in a significant pull back of open source code that made prior open source features proprietary including a highly scalable native storage format that supports large graphs, clustering for high availability and multi-datacenter sharding, backups, restoration, a highly performant cypher runtime, monitoring and security. All these features as of version 3.5 have been preserved and continue to be developed by The Graph Foundation under the ONgDB (Open Native Graph Database) open source project.

ONgDB currently maintains compatibility with Neo4j by integrating Neo4j’s open core (currently licensed under the open source GPLv3 license). We believe it’s in the best interest of the community to maintain a close integration with the open core to enable users to have the most freedom of choice. Even though Neo4j, Inc. has declared itself as having an open core model, it isn’t developing the core in the open and it isn’t releasing the source code to the public. Neo4j 4.0 has been under development for over a year and even after a public release of a 4.0 milestone distribution to the public with a full 4.0 public release announced at the recent NODES conference for early 2020, we have yet to see any code commits for 4.0 to the Neo4j open core repository.

We believe in the long-term significance that graph databases will have in our world and see the need to match the vision of this significance with the right model to carry forward development. The Graph Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, created the ONgDB project to ensure that the past 10 years of open source progress are not lost by short-term decision making. Our goal is to unite community and businesses alike under a freely distributable open source model that maintains user freedoms and moves development forward with decisions that are in the best interest of the community and user base.

Over the last year we have seen a significant rise in the interest of the ONgDB project from long-term community members, existing Neo4j Enterprise customers and newcomers to the graph world looking for a fully open source Neo4j Enterprise option. We believe this interest will continue to grow strongly throughout 2020 as adoption of graph databases accelerates. We invite the community to continue helping us on this journey by raising awareness to this cause and aligning your organizations behind an open source vision for the future. Thank you to all the community and business members that support this mission. Our work is for you and we look forward to serving you and the many graph powered applications you will launch in the years to come!

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