Oracle Makes Lustre Users Buy Hardware for Support


Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) will soon make it tougher to get paid support for its open source Lustre clustered file system.

According to a recent presentation by Peter Bojanic, director of Oracle's Lustre Group, Lustre 1.8 and 2.0, which was just released as a beta, will remain open source and licensed under GPL 2.0. But beginning with the full release of Lustre 2.0, paid support will be limited to those purchasing Lustre bundled with Oracle hardware, and the company won't provide an upgrade path for 1.8 users who desire support. That means that Lustre 2.0 users who want paid support will need to replace their hardware.

Sun Lustre Storage Systems built with Lustre 2.0 will include the core file system, along with other components which "may or may not be open source," according to Bojanic's presentation.

The move, Bojanic said, is in keeping with Oracle's "vision of integrated hardware and software solutions." The systems will "leverage Oracle's comprehensive investments in storage, compute and networking hardware, Oracle Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux and Lustre 2."

Oracle says it will continue to host the open source Lustre community, and Lustre 2 will be available as an open source download, just not supported unless it comes bundled with Oracle hardware. Versions 1.8 and 2.0 will be interoperable, but users won't be able to move from 1.8 to 2.0 with support unless they replace their existing infrastructure, even for legacy Sun hardware configurations. Oracle will continue to support Lustre 1.8 users with software-only service contracts and give them a renewal option.

"Users can still download the software from our Web site and deploy it themselves on their own custom configurations," Bojanic told Enterprise Storage Forum. "We're just not going to sell support contracts for that kind of work."

Bojanic noted that Lustre 2.0 is still many months away. "Even after it's released, most customers aren't going to jump on it until they've seen some evidence of its stability in new deployments," he said.

There aren't many open source clustered file systems, and fewer still are those that offer support options. One such offering is the Gluster file system.

One Lustre user at a major international oil company said he isn't too worried about Oracle's move to end software-only support "because we use multiple types of file systems to maintain flexibility, and timing of leases may coincide with any changes Oracle makes to software support."

The user noted that software-only support is likely to come from elsewhere. One such service provider is likely to be ClusterStor, which was founded by Lustre developer and former Sun employee Peter Braam. ClusterStor's Web site is already pledging "full support services" for Lustre 2.0.

Most of Braam's company, Cluster File Systems, was acquired by Sun in 2007, including the Lustre file system.

ClusterStor isn't the only company hoping to capitalize on Oracle's move.

Bob Schoettle, chief marketing officer at clustered storage specialist Panasas, said Oracle's move "validates our perspective that high-performance storage requires a packaged and proven solution, and eliminates the perception you can get it for free. Organizations will need to look elsewhere for performance storage solutions, and Panasas is well positioned to address their needs with our proven hardware plus a software file system appliance approach."

Oracle is also adding new qualification requirements for resellers and OEMs building custom configurations based on Oracle Enterprise Linux with Lustre 2.

Bojanic said Oracle is "moving from the historical deploy-and-react model to an engineer-then-deploy approach. This will produce higher quality results, improve stability and reputation of Lustre 2 across all supported users, regardless of which reseller they choose to work with, and be more cost-effective for everyone in the long run."

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