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Sun Takes a Shine to Lustre

Just a week after getting sued by Network Appliance over its ZFS file system, Sun Microsystems has acquired the high-end Lustre file system from Cluster File Systems Inc.

A Sun spokesperson said the acquisition "has nothing to do with the NetApp lawsuit," and was intended to expand Sun's HPC product portfolio.

Greg Schulz, senior analyst and founder of StorageIO, agreed, but added: "This is going to add fuel to the fire of those who see Sun as being in trouble and thus chasing the market."

Sun will acquire the majority of Cluster File Systems' intellectual property and business assets, including the Lustre File System. Sun said it will add Solaris support to Lustre and continue to enhance Lustre on Linux and Solaris across-multi vendor hardware platforms. Sun also will continue work on delivering Lustre servers on top of ZFS, an initiative announced in July.

"This acquisition, coupled with the recent announcement of the Sun Constellation System, the most open petascale capable HPC architecture in the industry, shows our long-term commitment to the open source community and leadership in HPC," John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun's Systems Group, said in a statement. "Adding the Lustre technology to our already broad and innovative product line-up will strengthen our portfolio and enable Sun and our partners to offer customers an even more complete and open HPC solution."

Cluster File System CEO Peter Braam stated that Lustre "provides network-centric scalability for storage that is well matched with the complete and open Sun Constellation System architecture for petascale levels of performance. This is a clean and extremely scalable approach to provide high bandwidth and low latency access to large amounts of data for HPC applications."

Sun said Lustre is used in 20 percent of the top 100 HPC clustered systems and more than half of the top 30 installations. "This deal will allow us to leverage this market position and to combine Lustre with the rest of Sun's HPC portfolio for the broadest reach in the industry," Sun said in a statement. "Lustre will also be ported to Solaris to drive adoption of Solaris in HPC."

Schulz noted that HP has supported Lustre, as have other high-end server vendors, yet HP went on to acquire PolyServe, which offers both database consolidation tools and clustered file system capabilities.

"Where does that leave the likes of software startups like Ibrix or Red Hat GFS or SGI and their clustered file systems, and are we about to see some more moving and shaking during the final quarter of the 2007 edition of the storage M&A game?" Schulz wondered. Panasas is another potential target, but Schulz said a deal for Panasas would likely be much pricier than the unknown sum Sun paid for Lustre.

The deal is expected to close in October. Sun said terms of the deal were not disclosed because "the transaction is immaterial to Sun's earnings per share."

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