There were rumblings over Christmas break of some big changes in the Lustre Community. And while no one seems to want to go on the record at the moment, insideHPC has learned that some of Oracle’s key Lustre engineers have recently joined Whamcloud. This is great news for the company–Bryon Neitzel (Engineering Manager), Andreas Dilger (Lustre Architect), and Peter Jones (Lustre Support Manager) are all coming on board by the end of January.
So how is Whamcloud doing? In Startup terms, I would say that they are on a roll for an outfit that just came into being this past summer. The company already a couple of contracts with the National Labs at ORNL and LLNL and some notable partner agreements with leading vendors like DDN and LSI. And now with A-Team engineers coming on board they seem to be making all the right moves.
The Oracle Factor
So not to avoid the gorilla in the room, what is going on with Lustre within Oracle? Could it be that they are content to let attrition decide their next move? Company representatives could not be reached for comment, but some quick checking shows that the company has six Lustre engineering jobs openings at the moment, and the most recent was posted on September 30, 2010.
Despite their purging of HPC personnel in other areas, word has it that Oracle has been working quietly behind the scenes with the Lustre Community on testing and qualification, while saying little publicly about the open source file system since they acquired Sun Microsystems in February, 2010. Since then, most, if not all of the lieutenants from the old Cluster File Systems company have left Oracle including Peter Bojanic (Xyratex), and Eric Barton and Robert Reid (Whamcloud).
Now, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I would say that asking Oracle about their plans for Lustre is a waste of time. If there was a plan, the people who had an inkling of it have left. Without exception, they have all gone off to work on Lustre opportunities at other companies.
The Lustre Community Factor
So therein lies the rub; Oracle’s bumbling about over the past 11 months may have just stirred things up enough to ensure Lustre’s survival for years to come:
- Three Lustre user communities have since sprung up including HPCFS, OpenSFS, and the European Open Filesystems Group.
- Whamcloud received $10 million in startup financing to service and support Lustre
- Xyratex acquired ClusterStor, reuniting founding members of the Lustre engineering team
- The Lustre community took control of the LUG user group and now there’s not even one vendor on their board.
If there is a moral to this story, I would say it’s that Lustre is in good hands. With half of the TOP500 using Lustre, the community is committed and the companies who recognize the opportunity are growing their pool of engineering talent in order to get their share.
Rock Beats Scissors
This is certainly not the end of the Lustre saga, but after hearing nothing from Oracle for a while now, I think many of us have come to a rousing conclusion: What Larry Ellison says is unimportant, and we do not hear his words.