Sun Microsystems has released the code of its Solaris Cluster technology under an open source licence.
The company is hoping to expand the market for high performance computing (HPC) systems beyond the traditional areas such as finance and research and development organisations.
"Currently there is no production level commercial cluster system for open source people to use as a base. Now we are raising the level of quality for cluster code in the community," Paul Steeves, a director for Solaris marketing, told vnunet.com.
The initiative is also expected to accelerate what Sun described as a " dumbing down" of HPC technology.
Many companies would be interested in increasing availability of their mission critical systems, but shy away from the costs of building fully redundant systems.
"Maybe you [want to] get some things that are not mission critical but are somewhat business critical at a high level availability without having to absorb the entire cost," argued Keith White, director of engineering for Solaris Cluster at Sun.
In the first phase of the open sourcing, Sun will release the agent code for HPC systems. These agents allow applications to function on a clustered system.
Each application requires a unique agent and, although Sun has developed several hundreds of agents over the years, the firm expects that open sourcing the technology will allow independent software vendors and in-house developers to accelerate the creation with agents of their own.
Sun plans to release code for its disaster recovery by the end of this year which is targeted at storage replication vendors, and to release the clustering infrastructure itself by the end of 2008.
Similar to licences governing the Solaris operating system, Sun picked the Common Distribution and Development Licence for the code.
The open source licence allows developers and vendors to change the code and sell it without publishing the changes.
Sun repeated an earlier comment that it might decide to use the upcoming third version of the General Public Licence.
But for the server vendor to do so, the licence would have to drop a provision in the current version of the licence which requires developers to share all modifications that they make to the original code under the same licence.
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