Compaq cavalry rescues Linux clusters

Don't shoot the horses

In May, Compaq said it would GPL its NSC, or Non Stop Clusters code. This is the code that SCO licensed and co-developed as UnixWare Non Stop Clusters. Compaq announced two projects - The CI Project (for the infrastructure) and SSI, and Bruce Walker's seven man team in Los Angeles has been making progress.

High Availability clustering can extend Linux from its current role in network plumbling and edge tasks, such as web serving, into the heart of the business running database and TP jobs.

Compaq's intervention is timely. At the Cluster File Systems Birds-of-a-Feather session at LinuxWorld in August, Peter Braam described how significant the Compaq SSI could prove:

"The various Linux HA Projects have fragmented really badly," he said. "It's almost all proprietary, and here with one blow is a pretty comprehensive applications platform: Oracle can failover from node to node.

"Compaq SSI has a huge amount of high quality code: which is not only extremely high performance but all the pieces you need to do the cluster completely."

You can find an HTML presentation by Walker here with a PowerPoint version of the slides here[276k].

Walker's involvement with the code predates Compaq. It's in its fifth generation now, with its origins in the Locus system which began life at UCLA in 1979, he told us in August. Along the way the ideas were implemented in a clustered kernel for IBM, in Intel's Paragon machine, and clustered Compaq PS/2s. After a couple of years close work with Tandem, the latter acquired the group in 1996, shortly before Q bought Tandem.

Earlier this year SCO's new owners Caldera decided that maintaining two UnixWare kernels, one with NSC and one without, was too expensive. But that removed an important obstacle to the code being released under a software libre license.

What else? Oh yes, the topical bit: SourceForge has unveiled a new section of the site, a "Cluster Foundry", for the two projects and related Linux cluster work, which you can find here. ®

Related Links

Cluster Infrastructure for Linux - SourceForge
Single System Image Clusters for Linux - SourceForge

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