Oracle sale of Lustre welcomed by HPC users

The Lustre file system will be better supported by Xyratex, a smaller company more focused on high-performance computing, observers said

Oracle has sold assets related to the Lustre parallel distributed file system to high-performance computing storage vendor Xyratex, which has pledged to lead further development of the software in its current collaborative open-source environment.

Xyratex has acquired the original Lustre trademark, logo, website and associated intellectual property. Xyratex will also support Lustre customers.

While the U.K.-based Xyratex, founded in 1994, is a fraction of the size of Oracle, industry observers have heralded the acquisition as good news for Lustre users, and for the high-performance computing (HPC) community.

"Oracle wasn't really supporting Lustre very well," wrote Earl Joseph, program vice president of high-performance systems at IDC, in an email message. "In technical computing, Lustre is very popular, but like any software, it needs constant updating, improvements and serious support. Oracle was doing a very poor job in all three of these areas."

"Xyratex's knowledge of Lustre, and ability to deploy and support it, is of tremendous value to the Lustre community," said Tommy Minyard, director of advanced computing systems at the University of Texas' Texas Advanced Computing Center, in a statement. "With Xyratex continuing to play an active role going forward, we have the utmost confidence that the Lustre community will continue to produce significant innovation, for the benefit of everyone."

Oracle acquired Lustre as part of its US$7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010. Although users of the file system expressed worry that Oracle would abandon the technology, Oracle publicly asserted after the purchase of Sun that it would continue to develop the file system.

Oracle, however, has never focused on the scientific HPC market, where Lustre is chiefly used. Created in 2003, the file system is used in 60 of the 100 largest publicly known HPC systems, according to Xyratex.

Lustre is what is widely known as a massively parallel file system, meaning that it can be used for storing vast arrays of data across multiple nodes, by using a central index of where all the data is kept. It is particularly well-suited for large-scale compute and I/O-intensive applications.

In addition to managing the further development of Lustre, Xyratex will continue to use Lustre for its modular ClusterStor storage systems.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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