Facebook Tuesday joined the Apache Software Foundation as a Gold sponsor, looking to cement its commitment to open source and pledging to help drive the group into the future.

The company, whose website is built on technologies including Linux, Apache, memcached, MySQL, and PHP, plunked down $40,000 for the Gold sponsor status. Facebook has three infrastructure projects currently active in the Apache Software Foundation (ASF): Thrift, Hive and Cassandra.

"It would not have been possible to build Facebook without open source infrastructure that came before us, so it is good for us to take these infrastructure technologies and share them," says David Recordon, senior open programs manager at Facebook. Recordon joined Facebook five months ago to run its open source and web standards programs.

Jim Jagielski, chairman of the ASF, said in a statement, "sponsoring the ASF helps us grow existing projects, incubate new initiatives, promote community development, host user events, expand our outreach, and provide the infrastructure that keeps the Foundation running on a day to day basis. We are grateful for the generous support of Facebook."

Recordon says the Foundation has had a major impact on open source software and has helped Facebook with its own projects. The company has about 20 open source projects working now that are not with the Foundation. "So to have the opportunity to support Apache is something that we want to do," he says..

HP is the only other company listed as a Gold sponsor of the Foundation. The Gold designation is second only to Platinum status, where Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are the sole members.

Last November, the Apache Software Foundation celebrated its 10th anniversary. It now has 65 projects operating under its banner.

Unlike other open source organisations, before the Foundation hosts a project it has to be given to the ASF, which ultimately controls the intellectual property of all its projects. But the projects themselves run as semi-autonomous units within ASF, which provides members with legal protection from suits directed at foundation projects.