Linux Foundation End User Summit Wrap-Up

amcpherson's picture

We have a great sense of timing at the Linux Foundation. Who else would schedule a summit for large Linux users on Wall Street the day after “black Friday”? Actually we were worried that the news of the financial markets would distract our end users from attending the event. Luckily for us, this didn’t seem to be the case. (Jim Zemlin lightened the mood with a clever presentation you should check out here.)

Companies who attended included Credit Suisse, CME, AIG, Merrill Lynch, Dreamworks, NYSE, Fidelity, UBS, NYPD, US NAVY, Metlife, Morgon Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Aetna, NAVTEQ, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFJ) and many more.  We were pleasantly surprised to have a full house.  Perhaps in these times companies are committed to making the most of their investments, especially open and lower cost investments.

Highlights of the Summit included:

A detailed unveiling of the next generation file system for Linux: BtrFS.  Chris Mason of Oracle detailed how BtrFS will solve many of the issues customers are facing with all platforms as the volume of their data continues to increase.  BtrFS is currently being worked on by a group of Linux Foundation members.  Led by Oracle, this group also includes developers from IBM, Intel, Novell, and other companies.  The group hopes to have a version in the kernel by the end of this year.  Customers’ initial reactions were very favorable on ease-of-use in particular.  Ted Ts’o of the Linux Foundation also detailed the new ext4 file system already in the mainline kernel.

Several users are using DM multipathing in production and were very interested in the newly reworked multipathing code that is now upstream (request-based instead of bio-based) which should give better control and insight into error handling.  Native device mapper (DM) multipathing was compared with commercial alternatives.

The presentation part of the file system focused more on data integrity features in the IO stack and file systems with an eye towards reducing exposure to possible data loss.  Specific features that are new include the SCSI T10 DIF work (allows end to end data integrity checks), checksumming support for data and/or metadata in ext4, BtrFS and XFS, and a substantial improvement in fsck time for ext4.

The developers in attendance learned that one use-case that many large financial customers have is a large number of mid sized nodes in a data center (say 2000 or so) which have relatively little data on local hard disks and rely on network file systems (NFS or AFS today) to supply the critical data.  There was interest in the still in-development work on parallel NFS (part of NFS v4.1 and heavily promoted by large storage vendors like EMC and NetApp) and some interest in persistent NFS client caching (again, actively under development, not in upstream).

Community representatives encouraged these large consumers of Linux to advocate for open source drivers from their suppliers so that they can be properly supported.

Also, they were offered help evaluating upstream (non-distro) kernels to give them a chance to validate and suggest fixes or tweaks on the very newest technology.  One large bank agreed to begin testing these newer, non-distro kernels and give feedback to the community.  On the competitive side, no users were found that had actually deployed ZFS in a production environment.

In the best example of the intention and promise of the event, end users, developers, and vendors met for multiple hours on the topic of systems management in Linux.  System management leaders received valuable operational requirements for performance monitoring from customers.  As a result of these meetings, the end user council of the Linux Foundation will now create use-cases and other detail that will then be given to community developers and vendors.  This type of collaboration is invaluable in advancing the state of the art of the Linux platform.  The Linux Foundation will report on results from this collaboration next year.

In other systems and performance management sessions, it was found that users in attendance had experiences and best practices but not always the awareness of the wide variety of tool/community choices.  As a result of this meeting, a blueprint or web based knowledge center will be created on the Linux Foundation site.  Both the vendor and user advisory councils will contribute to this knowledge center and encourage its use by a wide audience.

Gerrit Huizenga from IBM gave a well received session on Cloud Computing and how Linux is the OS of the cloud.  The Linux Foundation will be publishing a paper on cloud computing in the next month.

I want to thank all of our speakers. We had amazing community developer and vendor participation from the likes of IBM, Oracle, Intel, HP, Fujitsu, Novell, Red Hat and many more.  You can find slides from many of the sessions here. I actually thought there would be more arguments getting these groups together. I was pleasantly surprised at how everyone worked well together. While there are some things I will change for next year (especially the length of day one) I think overall it was a successful and useful event. I want to thank our members for supporting this effort at enhancing collaboration in the Linux platform.